A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)


Like most of you, I had it out for Platinum Dunes since the moment I heard of their plans for a Texas Chainsaw Massacre re-do.  But, to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit and became open to the idea that they would be remaking the movies I had grown up with.  Unfortunately, with each of their films my hatred began boiling with the fire of a thousand burning suns.  They’ve created a pattern for their remakes and, despite my hopes for something better, A Nightmare on Elm Street came out EXACTLY how I feared it would.

To make a long plot short, Fred Krueger was a gardener at the local preschool who had sexually violated all the kids so their parents locked him in an abandoned building and torched it to the ground.  Now, about twelve years later, all the kids have grown up into sexy teenagers (if you can say the cast in their mid twenties can pass for teenagers) and are being murdered in their dreams by ol' pedophile Freddy… now burned to shit and resembling one of those really heinous looking hairless cats.

Now here’s the pattern of a Platinum Dunes movie that I was talking about:  Take all of the visually compelling, creative ideas from the original film, add B grade level CGI effects, take away every ounce of tension, throw in some totally flashy editing and make sure EVERY single scare is a cop-out jump scare.  As much as I do adore the original film, you will never hear me say that the original film is a work of cinematic genius, because it’s not.  It has really bad pacing issues in the second act, some seriously questionably acting from the young cast, and a lot of ideas that weren’t fully realized mostly due to budgetary reasons.  If any remake screamed potential it was this one, yet the opportunity was blown.

Remember that totally unnerving scene in the original where Tina was dragged up the walls and across the ceiling gushing blood?  Well now picture that scene merged with the image of Freddy throwing Jason around the boiler room like a pinball machine in “Freddy vs Jason” and you will have one of many unintentionally funny scenes in the remake.  Also be on the look out, but not limited to, Kyle Gallner’s Speedo run through a flashback/dream, the inspiration for Freddy’s claw coming from a gardening hand tool and the fact that you can find ANYTHING on that damn internet.

The script, credited to Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, probably has some of the most convenient (aka lazy) plot elements and coincidences I’ve seen in a production of this size.  The dialogue is a mess of redundancy that hits us over the head with the plot just to make sure we got it the first fifty times and the characters have about as much personality as my toe nail.  At one point, our lead character Nancy tells her love interest Quentin towards the end of the film “If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really fit in”.  No, Nancy, I haven’t noticed because aside from the fact that you draw with charcoal, there has been not one attempt to make you unique, different, or a fully functional, well rounded character. 

The script as a whole seemed like it was many different scripts jammed together to create these contradicting moments and giant plot holes.  I like how they tried to breath some new life into the original story, but it turned out to be a disjointed mess of ideas.  On the plus side, there are some really fun lines from Freddy and you’ll know the ones I’m talking about when you hear them. 

And speaking of Freddy, Jackie Earl Haley’s casting was what initially gave me hope.  Anyone who’s seen “Little Children” knows the man can really reach high on the creep factor, and if someone HAD to fill Robert Englund’s shoes, he was definitely a good choice.  And that’s why I’m disappointed to report that I was far from impressed.  He had a good presence and some of the lines were delivered well, but all around he was so monotone without much expression.  Like he was just going through the motions to get things over with. 

Maybe he’s just not accustomed to working under make up like that, because he’s perfectly fine in the flashback scenes.  Or maybe it’s just my inner thinkings that you can’t just replace Freddy Krueger when the same person played him for twenty years.  It’s not like Jason or Michael where they’re silent and wear masks, Freddy had a unique personality and look and it’s hard to just replace that.

The biggest disappointment to me was the dream sequences themselves.  I read an interview where director Samuel Bayer explained that he felt the original series of films hadn’t taken advantage of the dream world aspect and what could be done with it.  Um, then why the eff is every single dream within your movie the same exact thing!?  Oh look, Freddy’s chasing them through the boiler room…again.  A killer in a dream world lends you to all sorts of creative potential and nothing was followed through here.  As I mentioned earlier, every single scare is a cheap jump scare and the worst part is they’re predictable. 

You know when things go absolutely silent in a horror film and then something pops out at you?  Well Bayer has filled this movie to the brim with those moments.  And you know exactly when the scare is coming because each bout of pure silence lasts roughly the same time before something jumps out at you.  Last I checked, the point of a jump scare was to catch you off guard;  I’m just sayin’.

A Nightmare On Elm Street is pretty much what you'd expect from a modern day remake --  It’s loud, it’s dumbed down, it has unnecessary love stories, it uses CGI of SyFy channel quality, and it takes away all of the creepy atmosphere in favor of stylish, fast editing.  I would rate the movie lower, but honestly there are worse entries in the series (:cough: Freddy’s Dead :cough:), and on a technical level it’s more than competent and well shot.  Maybe I’m just too old for this movie.  I’m sure today’s teenagers who aren’t as familiar with the original series will completely love it.  It’s a movie that’s just not made for me.

With its mess of a script, wasted potential, and questionable effects work, the new Nightmare on Elm Street is sadly disappointing and definitely not made for fans of the original.  Those who like Platinum Dunes style of filmmaking may enjoy it for what it is, but for the rest of us the original still sits there untouched on our DVD shelf.
With its mess of a script, wasted potential, and questionable effects work, the new Nightmare on Elm Street is sadly disappointing and definitely not made for fans of the original. Those who like Platinum Dunes style of filmmaking may enjoy it for what it is, but for the rest of us the original still sits there untouched on our DVD shelf.