A Nightmare on Elm Street

Do we really need a remake of Wes Craven's 1984 horror classic that spawned six sequels? Michael Bay, one of the producers and a genius at crass, knew in his cynical soul that a few more bucks could be squeezed out of Freddy Krueger — the deadly dream-stalker of the scissorhands, fedora, striped sweater and jones for preying on tender young flesh. The movie's one inspired idea was casting Jackie Earle Haley as the character created by Robert Englund. Haley, a child actor who launched an Oscar-nominated comeback as a pedophile in 2006's Little Children, rips into the role with relish. It's too bad the script turns him into a deadpan joke machine.

It took two or three films for the first franchise to devolve into silliness. Craven's first film kept Freddy creepily in the shadows not cracking wise. Many remember the first Elm Street as the debut of Johnny Depp playing one of Freddy's young victims. Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker and Rooney Mara better get better jobs on their résumés pronto if they hope to register on a Depp level. All that's required of them here is to look pretty while they're slaughtered. The new Elm Street marks the feature-directing debut of music video whiz Samuel Bayer (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"). But it's the Bay touch you feel in the way actors register as body count, characters go undeveloped, and sensation trumps feeling. A nightmare, indeed.

From The Archives Issue 147: November 8, 1973