In the last At the Movies before summer blockbuster season begins, Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Travers meets his worst nightmare: A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot… produced by Transformers 2 auteur Michael Bay. Freddy Krueger is back and haunting the dreams of Elm Street’s teenagers, played by a bunch of forgettable young actors who do nothing but add to the film’s body count. (The original Nightmare happened to feature Johnny Depp in his first starring role; Travers does not anticipate any of the young thespians here following in his footsteps.) Samuel Bayer, the man behind Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video, directs.
This film would be worth avoiding entirely if not for a frightening performance by Jackie Earle Haley, who replaces the seemingly irreplaceable Robert Englund as Freddy. The plot traces Krueger’s history before he became the dream murderer, and it turns out Freddy was a pedophile before he was undead and is seeking revenge on the children of those who burned him alive. (Earle also played a child molester in Little Children.) The first half of the movie plays it straight, and in the second half Krueger’s dark humor emerges, to inconsistent results. Haley nearly makes this Elm Street worth visiting, but ultimately Travers suggests dusting off your original Nightmare VHS instead.
For horror fans sick of the Nightmare series and looking for what Travers calls a “true, honest-to-God disgusting” movie, then The Human Centipede is for you and your iron stomach. The movie’s title says it all: It’s about a mad scientist that brutally connects people, mouth-to-anus, into a human centipede. It’s as gross as it sounds, and even grosser on the big screen.
Read all of this week’s reviews: