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Ghost Canyon

'A Nightmare on Elm Street' [Blu-ray]
(Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, et al / 2-Disc Blu Ray+DVD / R / 2010 / New Line+Warner Bros.)

Overview: Five teenage friends living on one street all dream of a sinister man with a disfigured face, a frightening voice and a gardener's glove with knives for fingers. One by one, he terrorizes them within their dreams--where the rules are his and the only way out is to wake up. Jackie Earle Haley plays the legendary evildoer in this contemporary reimagining of the seminal horror classic.

Blu ray Verdict: The only possible reason I can see for anyone wanting to remake a classic horror film like 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is to take the core concept and make it bigger, more shocking, more strange. To take advantage of advances in special effects to build upon and expand the possibilities of the original concept.

Maybe, in this case, to take advantage of the fact that in a nightmare things that couldn't possibly be real can seem nevertheless eerily familiar. Maybe to pull off something along the lines of Inception, that forces the viewer to ask at every moment whether what they're seeing is real, but to play it for terror, much more dark and unsettling.

They didn't do that here. Rather, they took the original story, watered it down a bit, took all the fun out of it, and hired a new crop of teenage actors and told them to act like they were barely awake. (My wife and I picked it because we really wanted to see something scary - as it turns out I could barely stay awake). They used the same kinds of special effects, just done with CGI this time - plus a shot that's become almost cliche in horror films lately: the scary man coming through the wall and stretching the wallpaper eerily.

Then they sapped the life out of Freddy Krueger and made him simply mean and angry, a pathetic loser high on power. I always thought of the original Freddy as something of an evil clown - who took a perverse delight in fright. He was someone you loved to hate, because he was fun to watch. This Freddy's just perverse, even pathetic if he weren't so violent. There's very little of the "cat and mouse" delight of the original.

When he ends up cutting to the chase and killing, it's like he got bored - and who can blame him since the teenagers he's hunting were written to be pretty uninteresting. I don't blame that on Jackie Earle Haley, since he pulled off a similar (though more sympathetic) role brilliantly in Watchmen. It's just that the writing and direction here was uninspired.

The look of the film, too - apart from a couple of intense effects - felt more like a grimy television special. Wes Craven has an eye for color and settings, and knows how to compose a shot so it's got something interesting about it. Here the daylight scenes were bland, and the nightmare sequences were marked off by a color cast in the light or by extra grunge in the settings.

The cutting was uneven in its pacing, and the camera movements were cliched. Someone told the cinematographer, for example, that rotating around the characters in nearly every scene with more than one person somehow adds to its intensity. That shot can be very effective, when used sparingly and for a specific purpose. Here it felt just like they used it when they couldn't think of a better way to shoot a given scene. This is just such an uninspired and lifeless remake, sorry! [NA] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Freddy Krueger Reborn: Dare to witness how this stylish reinvention of a classic pays homage to the original and also gives fans a wicked new scare
Maniacal Movie Mode
Alternate Opening
Alternate Ending
Deleted Scene