One, two, Freddy's coming for you. Three, four, the franchise is back for more. "Nightmare on Elm Street," the remake of the 1984, Wes Craven-directed original debuts today and critics are not pleased. Reviewers say the new movie, directed by Samuel Bayer (who famously also directed the music video for Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit") is too close to the original, while failing to live up to its legacy. The Awl's Melissa Lafsky, one of the few critics who plainly said the movie is worth seeing, explained the backlash:
Messing with a beloved 80’s classic can seriously backfire on you. If your audience is already supermega-nostalgic about the original, they’re gonna compare every second of your remake, frame by frame. Which is basically what I, and every other fangeek, did.
- A Letdown, Given Director's Skills Writing in The Los Angeles Times, Robert Abele laments what could have been:
[A]s an exercise in "re-imagining," to use Hollywood's favorite rehash euphemism, this "Nightmare" is mostly stale goods. You'd think Bayer's music video background would jibe well with the playful surreality of Craven's premise. But when not paying homage — the claw in the bathtub, the morphing wall — Bayer surprisingly traffics in factory-level horror atmospherics and loud, saw-it-coming shocks. In the end, your last fever dream about failing to study for an exam was probably scarier.
- Wes Craven Should Be Angry The new Nightmare is a disgrace, argues Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. Though he calls it a "handsome, studious new remake," O'Hehir can't figure out why it was made.
The credits say that Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer's screenplay is "based on characters created by Wes Craven," but that's simultaneously way too much and not nearly enough. Craven should sue these guys for stealing his material lock, stock and barrel, and then sue them again to get his name off the picture. Beyond the introduction of Facebook, pharmaceuticals and cellphones -- and the fact that Springwood seems vastly more affluent than it was 26 years ago -- very few alterations have been made to the basic narrative, which at least spares me from boring you with a plot summary.
- It's Corporate Some of the moments stolen from the original still work, writes Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman, and the movie was sometimes scary. But, all in all, it wasn't creative enough:
I did jump a few times, and I liked Haley's dour malevolence, but overall, the new Nightmare on Elm Street is a by-the-numbers bad dream that plays a little too much like a corporately ordered rerun.