New 'Elm Street' a nightmare-ish film

Freddy creates sparks in the dull "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (Photo courtesy of
Freddy creates sparks in the dull "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (Photo courtesy of

By Riley Simpson
Associate Editor-in-Chief
Today’s standard horror movie is basically a mindless script void of intellect with cracker-thin characters thrown in amidst a villain that only abides by the Laws of Movie Cliches instead of the laws of physics.
Also, no real fear is generated from these films: just bad guys jumping out of nowhere and scoring cheap thrills with generous amounts of gore.
And that’s exactly what Samuel Bayer’s re-hash of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is.
It starts off in the Springwood diner where local teen, Dean (Kellan Lutz), apparently kills himself. His friend Kris says otherwise. Before his the Jugular Vein vomited blood onto the floor, he screamed “You’re not real!” So, that obviously means he didn’t kill himself, right?
Soon enough, Kris, along with the rest of her chums, Quentin, Nancy and Jesse, start having nightmares of the dream-stalking Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley) and some end up dying bloody deaths — in one scene, Freddy forces his entire arm through a teens chest in a dream; we then see a dark red vacuum in the teen’s body.
The script’s shortcomings, written by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, might be the missing cornerstone that caused this pyramid to crumble. In most parts, it’s just plain dumb.
In one scene, Quentin, after multiple sleep-less nights, falls asleep in the middle of swim practice. Call me old-fashioned, but I honestly doubt that a swimmer can just doze off mid-lap. Another stupid scene: when a character dies right in front of him, Jesse, covered in the victim’s blood, runs outside and into the public. With evidence that can tie him to murder. Again, that’s not a smart move (by the screenwriters, not Jesse).
After seeing the trailer for “Elm Street” online, I must say, I honestly thought this movie had enough potential to be —hold your breath — good. But sadly, the potential was squandered, along with the hour and a half spent watching this movie.
Haley looked pretty frightening as Freddy — who totally stole the Fedora look from Indiana Jones — in the posters, but the fear-factor didn’t transfer to the screen. All he did in the movie was say stupid dream or violence-related lines (see top), look scary in silhouette when chasing kids and scratch his razor-fingers on some pipes.
Anyway, Haley was perfectly creepy in “Little Children,” “Watchmen” and even in his bit part in “Shutter Island.” Why didn’t that, too, transfer to “Elm Street?”
The lack of a strong lead character unfortunately led to another star to steal the show: the extras seen in the halls and classrooms of filming sites Elk Grove and John Hersey High Schools — and by extras, I mean the actual students of the above high schools.
Their performances quadrupled the quality of those of the actual actors.
The original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was one of the movies that haunted my childhood. I could never make it through the movie in one sitting and I could never sleep in my room that night.
But this remake, frankly, is just not scary. It happily borrows famous shots from the original (the glove popping out of the bath-water and the mid-air murder), but offers little substance of its own — although I must say the first dream sequence in this movie is pretty freaky since it’s the only one that mirrors an actual bad dream with freaky details like weird lighting on clocks and windows plus random kitchen fires.
All in all, though, performance-wise, directing-wise and writing-wise, this “Elm Street” is a real nightmare.