Apr 30, 2010|
(USA) A little trivia: In 1991, Samuel Bayer directed Kurt Cobain in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video. Almost 20 years on, he directs another guy in a grungy striped sweater. But Bayer’s latest effort is no inspired work of angst—mere sound and fury clad in throwback flannel, the only teen spirit that remains here is in the eviscerated form of a high body count.
In this remake of the Wes Craven classic, serial killer and molester Freddy Krueger (Little Children’s Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley) returns to haunt five teenagers’ dreams. The quivering youths share a common traumatic past and discover that if Freddy kills them in their dreams, they’ll also die in real life (boo hoo). They are forced to resort to increasingly desperate schemes to stay awake, such as listening to really loud rock music, self-branding with a car cigarette lighter and shooting up adrenaline (in a rare moment of Pulp Fiction-inspired wit, a character called Quentin stabs his girlfriend in the chest with a syringe). Quentin also warns the others of “micro-naps” that apparently strike insomniacs and cause them to be unaware that they are actually sleeping even while they’re awake; a state that you may actually find yourself in as you’re helplessly watching this silly film unfold.
Bayer does a barely serviceable job of updating the Elm Street franchise for the ADD goth generation. He amps up the gore, having Freddy carve up bodies even more luridly. But all the terrifying glee that the original Freddy found in this enterprise is replaced by deadly seriousness. New deeper-voiced Freddy is robbed of all personality, with even his drollest line— “How’s this for a wet dream?”—said to a teenager stuck in sludge, coming from the original film. Bayer’s garish version cannot hide the fact that while it recreates faithfully (almost scene-for-scene) the original film, it does so perfunctorily.
Bayer is apparently planning a sequel already to this bloodily boring film, so here’s an idea: Why not pair the Elm Street kids with the Twilight vampires? Both groups can stay up all night long listening to dead rock stars and not having sex—but at least it’ll be fun.
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