A Nightmare on Elm Street ★★★

It's hard to find a fair review of this one on Letterboxd; it’s all 'this is shit/boring/etc' with zero argument. That’s decidedly unfair to a remake that does quite a few things right.

The reimagining of the story as one of a collective experience buried by repressed memory – an avenue the film doesn’t explore, admittedly – is a good approach, even if it undermines Freddy’s ambiguity (central to the plot is that the kids learn exactly who he is and what he did). The lighting design is smart, subtly (and not so subtly) hinting at the switch to the dream world. And the ‘microsleep’ subplot contemporised things, while leaving a thread to explore in any potential sequel.

(How about this: kids on modafinil find it gives them abilities in their dreams as in the Part 3. Eh?)

What really lets it down is a script that needed a few more drafts to iron out its logic-defying plot holes, haphazard character actions and motivations. The special effects, too, needed another pass — much of it looks poor for the mid ‘90s, let alone 2010. Too often the nightmare set-pieces lean on knowing references to the original movie turned up to 11, at the expense of novelty; worse, the end sequence is just a remix of iconic images from that first film, stripped of context and strung together with no rhyme nor reason.

And at the dark heart of it is an ultimately underwhelming bogeyman. Despite his Freddy’s meaner spirit, Jackie Earle Haley lacks Robert Englund’s leering, EC Comics expressiveness behind that mask of CG-enhanced make-up; he’s a pretender who’s hard to fear on the same metaphysical level.

All that being said, I’d still like to see a follow-up to this one, rather than yet another reboot.