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A Nightmare on Elm Street review

Once upon a time, pizza-faced dream paedo Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) wrecked the circadian rhythms of an entire generation in Wes Craven’s 1984 classic. But having dipped his razor glove into TV (Freddy’s Nightmares), 3D (Freddy’s Dead) and Camp Crystal Lake (Freddy Vs Jason), not to mention homosexual metaphor (Freddy’s Revenge), post-modernism (New Nightmare) and self-parody (Dream Warriors/Master/Child) where else was there to go?

According to producer Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes – already responsible for po-faced reprises of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday The 13th – the answer’s backwards. More remake than redux, Nightmare 2010 is an uninspired reassembly of the original’s best bits (the ceiling roll, the bath attack, the walking body bag, the bed haemorrhage), block by tedious block. As before, Nancy (Rooney Mara) and her Vicodin-eyed Gap model chums are being menaced in their sleep by Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley), but could he be the same mild-mannered janitor who used to live under the kindergarten (no kidding) until accusations of sexual impropriety (hmmm really?) got him burned to a crisp by their parents?

In a word, yes. But it’s not the same. Haley’s a fine, Oscar-nominated actor, but his wonk-faced fish-man make-up, Forrest Gump drawl and lazy backstory do the character no favours, and upping the child abuse element confuses the issue – are we supposed to be scared or disgusted? Director Samuel Bayer (a pop-promo veteran, naturally) conjures a handful of slick reality/dreamworld transitions, three or four crudely effective jump-scares and a small reservoir of gore. But these are superficial distractions in a hotchpotch whose most unlikely plot point ends up the most pertinent. Turns out it is possible to fall asleep with your eyes open. Who knew?

Liked the original but wished it was unfeasibly generic with a touch more paedophilia? Bingo…

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