A Nightmare on Elm Street
More contemplative and thematically muscular than Wes Craven's 1984 original slasher flick, Samuel Bayer's updated version has a quieter surreal edge rooted more in suspense than in the former film's regular bloodletting. That's not to say plenty of quarts of the red liquid don't flow freely from a group of teens who had the misfortune to have been molested by Freddie Kruger when he worked as a nursery school janitor a dozen years earlier. Jackie Earle Haley breathes fearsome life into the horribly disfigured monster that lives in the dream-lives of his victims. The movie has a sustained sense of morbid dread that's abetted by the narrative's adult characters who conspire against the truth of their own complicity in their children's sustained terror. Subtle nods to films like "Psycho," "The Exorcist," and "The Shining" work to create a grotesque universe of the sleep deprived where nightmares nestle like Russian Dolls. Where Craven's film was campy, Bayer's movie is just plain dark.
Rated R. 95 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)
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