Nancy, Kris, Quentin, Jesse and Dean all live on Elm Street. At night, they're all having the same dream--of the same man, wearing a tattered red and green striped sweater, a beaten fedora half-concealing a disfigured face and a gardener's glove with knives for fingers. And they're all hearing the same frightening voice…
One by one, he terrorizes them within the curved walls of their dreams, where the rules are his, and the only way out is to wake up.
But when one of their number dies a violent death, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens for real, and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake. Turning to each other, the four surviving friends try to uncover how they became part of this dark fairytale, hunted by this dark man. Functioning on little to no sleep, they struggle to understand why them, why now, and what their parents aren't telling them.
Buried in their past is a debt that has just come due, and to save themselves, they will have to plunge themselves into the mind of the most twisted nightmare of all… Freddy Krueger.
New Line Cinema presents a Platinum Dunes Production, "A Nightmare on Elm Street," a contemporary re-imagining of the seminal horror classic, with Jackie Earle Haley ("Little Children," "Watchmen") as Freddy Krueger. The film is directed by award-winning music video and commercial director Samuel Bayer (Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"), marking his feature film directorial debut. Bayer directed "A Nightmare on Elm Street" from a screenplay by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, story by Strick. "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is based on characters created by Wes Craven in the 1984 sleeper horror hit of the same name. That film went on to become one of the horror genre's longest-running, most successful and innovative film series.
The film is produced by Platinum Dunes' Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, whose company has enjoyed tremendous success with a host of re-imagined horror franchises, including Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Amityville Horror.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
WELCOME TO YOUR NEW NIGHTMARE..One, two, Freddy's coming for you…
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" is a reinvention of the seminal 1984 horror classic that unleashed Freddy Krueger upon the nightmares of a generation of fans. Now, a new Freddy Krueger, embodied by Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley, is born.
Welcome to your new nightmare.
"Freddy Krueger is the mythical boogeyman," says Haley, who breathes new life into Freddy Krueger in "A Nightmare on Elm Street." "He's everyone's worst nightmare... the character in the campfire story."
"Real horror, when you think about it, relates to things on a very human level," notes Samuel Bayer, the acclaimed commercial and music video director who makes his feature film debut with "A Nightmare on Elm Street." "And we all dream; it's universal."
"To me, the most terrifying aspect of Freddy Krueger is that he comes to kill you in your sleep, when you're at your most defenseless," says producer Michael Bay. "In your dreams, there's nowhere to hide. You can't escape, and he won't stop until you either die or wake up. He provokes fears we all have."
Producer Brad Fuller attests, "In watching horror movies, you often wonder how people can put themselves in such dangerous situation, but the thing with 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' is that no one can stay awake forever."
"Freddy's got nothing but time," adds producer Andrew Form. "All he has to do is wait, and eventually you'll end up in his world."
Wes Craven wrote the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" after he became inspired by a series of newspaper articles about children who had suffered through a war and died from the power of their recurring nightmares. Released in 1984, the initial low-budget film, which starred Robert Englund as Freddy, became an international sensation for New Line Cinema--affectionately called "The House That Freddy Built"--and spawned a number of sequels.
Now, more than two decades later, Bay, Form and Fuller, whose Platinum Dunes production company has created a niche for reimagining classic horror properties, felt the time was right to unleash Freddy on a new generation of fans. "Growing up, I always felt that if I died in my dreams I would actually die, and that didn't come from hearing it on the news; that came from seeing the 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' movies," Form says. "They scared the hell out of me as a child."
Director Samuel Bayer has proven his ability to blur the lines between the real and the unreal and in him the producers saw the ideal sensibility for creating the ultimate nightmare. Form asserts, "Sam has created some of the most enduring images in his video and commercial work, and we were excited to pair him with this story."
Screenwriters Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer used Craven's 1984 film as a blueprint but evolved the ideas further as they explored the psychologically resonant elements of the character of Freddy Krueger. "Trying to write Freddy in a fresh way led me back to the Pied Piper, who'd punished a town by taking away its children," says Strick. "When I learned the term 'pied' meant 'stripes of contrasting colors,' just like Freddy's famous sweater, it felt like a sign that I was on the right track--making Krueger even scarier by painting him as a righteous avenger, a dimensional villain who's complex and more human and who may have been falsely accused."
Freddy's home turf--where he is in total control--is the world of sleep and dreams. Bayer offers, "Through the centuries, people have tried to figure out their own psyches and why they dream, and why some people fear sleep. At some time in life, we've all tried to stay awake for something. We know what it feels like when you get tired and your eyes just can't stay open. Usually it just means you fall asleep, but in this movie, you could actually die."
Heisserer found that research into this phenomenon uncovered an inescapable fact about sleep: after enough days without it, the brain shuts down to automatically recharge. Even as the teens of Elm Street resort to questionable methods in order to stay awake--from chugging energy drinks to downing prescription psychostimulants--without their knowledge they slip into a micro-sleep state.
"Micro-sleep causes you to fall asleep even for a few moments at a time," Heisserer explains. "Even though you're still conscious and awake, part of your brain is asleep. So, that phenomenon allows Freddy to get at the characters in the story even when they're awake…no matter where they are."
A NEW FREDDY KRUEGER IS BORN … Three, four, better lock the door…
With a charred, disfigured face, an unforgettable voice, and a wicked sense of humor, Freddy Krueger is both a physical and psychological predator as he invades the dreams of suburban teenagers and kills them in their sleep. The sense of palpable danger and genuine horror rests in the embodiment of the monster at the film's core: Freddy Krueger, played by Jackie Earle Haley.
Haley recalls that fans of the original "Nightmare" filled the internet with speculation about him portraying Freddy after the project was announced. "My immediate reaction was, 'That's kind of cool!' And then when the producers called and actually offered me the role, I was pretty flabbergasted. It's such an amazing, iconic character. It was just an absolute honor to be offered the role of Freddy."
"Jackie embodied everything that we wanted for this role," states Fuller. "The fans were aware of him, and he's a brilliant actor. We knew we wanted to make a seriously scary movie, and it would be impossible to tell this story without an actor of Jackie's caliber. We're not trying to replicate what was done in the past. Jackie made Freddy Krueger his own."
Haley plunged into the mythical aspects of the character to internalize what it was about him that resonated so universally. "Getting to play Freddy was exciting and challenging because, as this mythical boogeyman that we all love to be frightened by, there's a lot that makes him tick," the actor says. "It's fascinating that what's scary on screen has triggers in outside life, and Freddy encompasses so much of what terrifies us."
Haley also credits his predecessor, Robert Englund, for giving the role such power and wicked humor. "It was a very cool process for me, trying to figure out how to make Freddy my own," Haley reveals. "Robert did an amazing job portraying Freddy over the years. He made him who he is. What we're doing with Freddy with this new approach is still trying to be true to those things that fill him with rage, and the specifics that make him the malevolent villain that he is. But I think we're trying to capture him in a new that's darker, and a little bit more serious, less jokey and, hopefully, more scary."
Bayer has nothing but praise for Haley's work. "This is definitely Jackie's take. He created a character that you're going to hate and be scared of, but, at the same time, you're going to have empathy for him--it's all what Jackie brought to it."
At the suggestion of the filmmakers, Haley researched serial killers in preparation for the role, but ultimately chose to take Freddy out of the realm of fact and into the realm of myth. "I realized I wasn't playing a serial killer," he affirms. "I wanted to be true to who Freddy Krueger is and yet still bring a little bit of realism to his back story and what it was that turned him into this."
THE RESIDENTS OF ELM STREET … Five, six, grab your crucifix…
Standing in stark contrast to Freddy Krueger is the small coterie of teenagers who become his quarry. In casting the young people who are caught in Freddy's web of nightmares and deceit, the filmmakers set out to find fresh faces that would bring authenticity to their experience.
One of the first to be cast was newcomer Rooney Mara in the central role of Nancy, an introspective artist who works as a waitress at the diner where the other kids hang out. In some ways the most avidly pursued by Freddy, she becomes their best hope for stopping him and breaking the cycle of murders.
"Sam likes to describe Nancy as the loneliest girl in the world," says Mara, who emphasizes that, though they share the same name, her Nancy is very different from the Nancy played by Heather Langenkamp in the 1984 film. "My character keeps to herself; she's socially awkward and timid and really doesn't know how to connect with people. Even as a child, she was probably a little bit different than the other kids, which draws Freddy to her in a perverse way."
As the nightmare killer begins to stalk Nancy and some of her high school friends, she detects unseen connections between them and identifies the same touchstones--the bladed glove, the sinister voice, the scarred face--in their increasingly violent dreams. In trying to understand the very real danger of the man that is hunting them, Nancy is forced out of her shell. "Throughout the movie you see her grow," Mara asserts. "She forms a connection with Quentin and learns how to open up and reach out to people. As their situation gets worse, you see what Nancy is made of. She really becomes a strong woman."
"Rooney has something that is absolutely special," Bayer states. "The camera loves her, and she has a really introspective quality. I think she's a great heroine; I really love her."
Quentin, who forms a tentative connection with Nancy as their situation grows more dire, is played by Kyle Gallner, who notes that his character stays awake with the help of pharmaceuticals. "He pops Adderall, and he steals adrenaline from the hospital," Gallner relates. "He's a mess, more jittery and a more 'out there' than Nancy is. She's genuinely tired, while Quentin is irritable and strung out on top of that."
Gallner feels the characters move toward strength as their encounters with Freddy accelerate. "They're not like lambs sent to the slaughter," he observes. "They're actually people dealing with their problems who just happen to have this other very big problem thrown into their lap. You want these kids to get through this and win."
Fuller comments, "Kyle is compassionate and smart and brought so much humanity and relatability to Quentin."
Katie Cassidy plays Kris, a beautiful and outgoing blonde who comes to suspect that something much more bizarre is happening than merely random dreams. "Emotionally, Kris is run through the entire gamut in this film," Cassidy offers. "She is literally dragged through hell, having to crawl through dark, claustrophobic tunnels. She's always crying and freaking out as her nightmares of Freddy bleed into her everyday life. Kris suspects there's something that connects her with the others; she even confronts her mother about it, but no one's talking."
Kellan Lutz plays Dean, Kris's new boyfriend, who is the first to put the others on alert about Freddy. "He's a character who you can tell has a lot of issues just by looking at him," says the actor. "He's extremely disturbed by the dreams and determined not to go to sleep, so he's on pills to stay awake. He comes to this diner to drink coffee with the hope he won't fall asleep, but ends up falling into a dreamlike state and has a terrifying encounter with Freddy."
Thomas Dekker plays Jesse, Kris's brooding ex-boyfriend, who is in many ways blindsided by Freddy's intrusion into their lives. "Jesse kind of knows what's going on but refuses to believe it," Dekker says. "He goes to great lengths to try and stay awake; he cries and talks to himself. He just has no way of coping with a threat that he thinks can't possibly be real. By the time Jesse comes face to face with Freddy, he's just a mess. There's no bravado about it. His terror is very real."
One thing that becomes clear to all of them is that Freddy Krueger is connected to something that happened when they were children. But the only people that could give them insight are not talking.
The parents of the Elm Street kids are played by veteran actor Clancy Brown as Quentin's dad, Alan, a guidance counselor at Springwood High School; Connie Britton as Nancy's mom, Gwen, a doctor; and Lia Mortenson as Kris's mom, Nora, a flight attendant.
DESIGNING THE NIGHTMARE … Seven, eight, gonna stay up late...
Essential to the mythology of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" are a number of indelible hallmarks from the original film that Bayer wanted to incorporate while creating an all new vision of Elm Street. Freddy himself informs the world into which he draws his victims. Having died a violent death after being set ablaze, Fred Krueger, a mild-mannered gardener and caretaker at Badham Preschool, transforms into Freddy Krueger, the stalker of dreams. Read more
A NEW ELM STREET .. Nine, ten, never sleep again…
Working with production designer Patrick Lumb, Bayer sought to use the locations to create a familiar suburban world so safe that Freddy's intrusion is all the more jarring. By contrast, Freddy's world was in part inspired by the dark, fantastical paintings of late 18th/early 19th century Spanish artist Francisco Goya. "What we tried to do was to base the dream world on the real world, and craft rich and exciting transitions between them," Lumb states. "Working on dreamscapes and inventing a world around Freddy was one of the great joys of this project for me." Read more
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
SAMUEL BAYER (Director), having directed and photographed hundreds of music videos and commercials over the last 15 years, has firmly established himself as one of the industry's most prolific and sought-after talents. Known for his vérité style and unique vision, Bayer's talents transcend mediums as he carves out his place in film.
A graduate of New York City's School of Visual Arts, Bayer was a painter who soon discovered that film and video were the perfect medium to deliver his art to a greater audience. A self-taught cinematographer who lights and shoots all his music videos and commercials, Bayer launched his career with Nirvana's landmark video "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which is consistently rated as one of the most influential music videos of all time. Bayer's hands-on approach to filmmaking infused the Nirvana video with his distinct style and attitude.
Bayer went on to collaborate on videos for such diverse artists as The Rolling Stones, Sheryl Crow, John Lee Hooker, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins, David Bowie, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Green Day, and Justin Timberlake.
His commercial work includes campaigns for Nike, Coke, Pepsi, Nissan, Lexus, and Mountain Dew and has cemented his reputation as a visual revolutionary, garnering AICP Awards for Cinematography, Direction, and Production Design, and Clio Awards for Best Direction and Best Cinematography. Bayer's commercials are showcased in the permanent film/video collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
In 2005, he received the Kodak Lifetime Achievement Award for his work and cinematography in music videos. Bayer was honored in 2006 by the Music Video Producers Association with his second Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also won multiple MTV Moon Men for music videos over the years.
"A Nightmare on Elm Street" marks Bayer's feature film directorial debut.
WESLEY STRICK (Screenwriter and Story) garnered an Edgar Allan Poe Award nomination for Best Mystery Motion Picture on his first film, the James Woods/Robert Downey Jr. courtroom drama "True Believer." He followed this with "Arachnophobia," starring Jeff Daniels; Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear," starring Robert De Niro; "Final Analysis," with Richard Gere and Kim Basinger; and Mike Nichols' "Wolf," starring Jack Nicholson and Michelle Pfeiffer, which won a Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film of 1994.
His other credits include Philip Noyce's "The Saint," starring Val Kilmer; "Return to Paradise," starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix; "The Glass House," with Leelee Sobieski and Diane Lane; and 2005's feature adaptation of the videogame "Doom."
Strick began his writing career in the late 1970s as a rock critic and journalist, contributing articles to Circus, Creem and Rolling Stone. He was among the first to cover the CBGB scene, interviewing iconic punk bands such as Talking Heads, Ramones, Television, and Blondie as they emerged from the Lower East Side. Strick has served as a creative advisor at the Sundance Institute's Screenwriter's Lab for the past 15 years, as well as penning the novels Out There in The Dark and Whirlybird.
ERIC HEISSERER (Screenwriter) most recently wrote "The Thing," with Matthijs van Heijningen directing and Marc Abraham producing.
Heisserer currently has "The Occupants" in development, with David Heyman producing, based on "The Dionaea House," Heisserer's online epistolary story about haunted houses. Also in development is Heisserer's "Inhuman," with Taka Ichise producing.
He also wrote for the television series "Stranger Adventures," an interactive show that received an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Achievement for Enhanced or Interactive Programming: New Delivery Platforms, as well as a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Video Content for Non-Traditional Delivery Platforms.
Heisserer grew up in Oklahoma and moved to Houston after high school. He worked for Space Industries at NASA as a computer artist for space program technologies before pursuing creative writing through tabletop gaming publications such as Cyberpunk 2020.
THE ART OF REMAKES