Reasonable horror remake sees Freddie Kruger brought to the 21st century
3/5 (18+) US. Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara Like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, A Nightmare on Elm Street lends itself to so many variations and spin-offs because its true villain isn’t a monster, but the most basic of human needs: sleep. Stylistically situated midway between the bourgeois-indicting crudeness of The Last House on the Left (1972) and the well-oiled thrills of Scream (1996), Wes Craven’s 1984 film became famous for its bogeyman effects, its portrait of teen angst and – for a then-ascendant New Line Cinema – its unexpected mainstream success. But it lacks the elegance of near-contemporaries such as Halloween; today the most famous sequences seem edited to privilege the design work over shocks.
Keeping the torture terror to a minimum, it adds a garish palette, cellphones, Google searches, some ingenious variations on the formula (adrenaline shots; ‘micro-naps’, or waking dreams) and – as seems to be de rigueur for recent horror remakes – ironic use of a golden oldie (here it’s a pharmacy sequence set to the Everly Brothers’ ‘All I Have to Do Is Dream’). Mara and Gallner make an attractive couple, and Haley, as Freddy Krueger, hams it up to an almost alarming degree.