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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: A New ‘Nightmare’, Another Payday For New Line

In the unfortunate tradition of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Friday the 13th reboots, today comes A Nightmare On Elm Street, with former child actor and recent Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley taking over the role of iconic boogeyman Freddy Krueger — a character that Robert Englund embodied for over twenty years. The screenplay was adapted by Wesley Strick (The Saint, Cape Fear) and Eric Heisserer, with former music video maker Samuel Bayer on hand as director. The original was created by Wes Craven, who’s currently working on a third sequel to his other hit horror franchise, the Scream movies.

Seeing as last year’s Friday the 13th remake grossed over $60 million on a modest budget of about $20 million, it’s no wonder why New Line Cinema decided to repeat the formula for this one. It’s a cash cow, as the recognizable title alone will reel in enough curious viewers to cover the production budget. Haley joined the project for his own reasons, however. He tells Cinematical:

Freddy, to me, was an exercise in mythological bogeymen. It was the opportunity for me to get to embrace the campfire story – that’s what the genre represents to me. And man, I’ve been so lucky to get to go into all this different genres. To go do a drama, a comedy, a comic book. So to get to do a horror flick, I kind of feel like I’m doing it in the coolest way possible.

nightmare-elm-st-poster-1THE BUZZ: Underwhelming. A stylish homage can only go so far without a new hook. And, of course, Englund’s shoes are hard to fill. His portrayal of Freddy stands as one of the great psychos of horror flicks. Jen Chaney of The Washington Post can’t get over this fact. She writes:

“[Haley] pours every bit of menace he can muster into Krueger, but can’t overcome the listless direction by Samuel Bayer, or the completely unterrifying, updated Krueger makeup job foisted onto his face. When Englund wore the pock-marked, ghoulish guise, he seemed genuinely creepy, even while he was cracking absurd jokes. But the “new” Krueger looks like some melted-candle hybrid of the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth and Hans Moleman from The Simpsons… All we can think of is how much we miss the Robert Englund Freddy. Man, that guy knew how to have a killer good time.

Meanwhile, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times was just plain bored. He writes:

I stared at A Nightmare on Elm Street with weary resignation. The movie consists of a series of teenagers who are introduced, haunted by nightmares and then slashed to death by Freddy. So what?

And Colin Covert of The Minneapolis Star Tribune blasts the movie, not for its content per say, but for its extreme lack of originality:

Like a cover band with more stagecraft than talent, A Nightmare on Elm Street looks good recycling “greatest hits” moments but fails to capture the excitement of the original.

Executives at New Line will be laughing all the way to the bank. They have a good system going. Too bad audiences keep falling for it. I expect a Child’s Play remake starring Mickey Rourke any day now.

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