A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

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"Why are you screaming? I haven't even cut you yet"

May 16th, 2010

This october a complete Blu ray box set of Freddys adventures is going to be released. Its time to revisit one of the best horror franchises of all time. Heres my review for the 2010 remake which is already avaliable to buy

This weekend I finally got around to seeing this flick more out of obligation (I've seen every Nightmare tale as well as the numerous spin off's) than any real desire to see yet another horror remake. As I reached the credits I realised the movie's tagline, 'Don't fall asleep' was a guideline to viewers who had to sit through this nonsense. Yawn!.

I personally have no problems with remakes, at least that's how I used to feel. The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre redo's respected the original films and crafted something that was equal if not better. Lately we've just had a plague of crap churned out with Children Of the Corn, Blood The Last Vampire and Halloween 2 amongst their ranks, all hollow experiences. When it was announced that Nightmare was getting a reboot I wasn't impressed.

There are certain films that should never be remade, classics that should be watched by people of all ages. If you were to hear that a remake of The Godfather, Back To The future or Die Hard was in the works the first question you'd ask would be, why? The usual answer is to modernise them for the kids. There's no real reason today why we need to update films for the younger generation, it's so easy with today's technology to watch any film from any era, just buy the original on DVD, far cheaper than going to the cinema anyway. Nightmare On Elm Street is a classic.

Eventually I warmed up to the idea with Platinum Dunes producing. Their track record with remakes hasn't been too shabby (Texas Chainsaw, Amityville Horror and Friday The 13th) and they promised to return Freddy to his darker roots. As the original Nightmare films had already received a resolution in Freddy's Dead I was more open to a fresh start than say the Halloween franchise (Damn that Busta Rhymes for kicking Myers' arse). I wasn't prepared for the ride I was about to take.

I won't describe the basic outline of whom and what Freddy Krueger is as the majority of horror fans know his history.

We open in a diner populated with a bunch of bland teenagers (it's not until much later that I realised they were the entire main cast) within a matter of minutes one of the kids falls asleep and is dispatched by Krueger. After months and months of mystery of what the new Freddy looked like he is in full view of the camera with next to no build up, talk about anticlimax and we're only two minutes in!

This introduces us to our heroine, Kris, who at the kid's funeral (I have no idea what his name was and really don't care as he's never mentioned again) sees visions of a little girl, begins to uncover a mystery about her childhood and is accosted by a crazy arty chick who has seen things that you wouldn't believe. Yes, this is the second scene of the movie.

From this point on I'm going to be throwing SPOILERS out there as the producers try to throw in so many "shocks" it's hard for me to go into any more detail without ruining at least a small portion of the film. Most of the cast are abysmal but Katie Cassidy who plays Kris is actually excellent despite the terrible dialogue she has been given. It's much easier to sit through a bad movie when you're spending it with a great actor, unfortunately the writers disagree and 30 minutes into the film they brutally kill her off. I was in shock, they pulled the same crap that the original did with Tina. Unlike the first however no other characters had been introduced leaving us, the viewer, with no connection to the film's universe. I was done at this point, the film had effectively ended at the 30 minute mark.

Passing the lead to the crazy arty girl from the funeral, she just happens to be… Nancy (Its possible they mentioned her name prior but it wasn't made clear). I found every scene Rooney Mara (Nancy) in to be an absolute chore, she has no screen presence (she is definitely no Heather Langenkamp) and seems to be as disinterested in the film as the audience was. Within 20 minutes she figures out who Freddy is and spends the remaining hour meandering around Springwood. Dull.

Another reason we get remakes shoved down our throats is to make use of current technology. This is one area that that the new Nightmare should trump the original as the use of computer effects could give us a truly lavish dream world setting. For some reason the effects are uneven and at some places laughable. During the famous scene where Freddy stretches his face through Nancy's wall the CGI looks cheap, you know something is wrong when the original's trick of stretching a sheet far surpasses modern effects. I was also expecting a more lavish dreamscape rather than being dumped into the boiler room location time and time again. Even with this the death sequences are nicely handled and this extremely graphic 'Nightmare' earns its 18 certificate.

Now for the big one. The main reason I and many other fans of horror opposed this remake was the recasting of Freddy Krueger. As far as I was concerned Robert Englund is Freddy. No matter what incarnation of the dream master has existed one man has given him personality, out of all the other icons Freddy is the only one who really is defined as a character rather than just a cool looking mask. No matter who was cast in the role they would pale in comparison. Jackie Earle Haley was the brave man to step up to the plate and after this shambles of a film Robert Englund is no longer Freddy.

And that's not a bad thing. Jackie Earle Haley is a revelation in the role creating a character that is far more menacing as Krueger than he has ever been depicted before. His delivery of lines is slow and controlled and he gives Freddy more power for it. The best thing about this version is the fact that the humour Freddy has become known for has remained but is used in a different way. The old Freddy would rely on puns (after cutting of someone's nose he'd utter "got your nose") but this new Freddy is far more sadistic, the joking is used as amusement for the character of Freddy and not the audience as it used to be. He is clearly a sick character who finds his own brand of humour hilarious much like the new incarnation of the Joker in Nolan's Dark Knight. I also like the more realistic look of Freddy's make up, he actually looks like a burns victim rather than old pizza face. The moment that really cemented this darker character was after he murders one of the teenagers by ripping his heart out. Once dead in the real world Freddy informs the kid trapped in the dream that the brain stays alive for 7 minutes after death and that they have 6 minutes to play. Vicious.

Now not everything about this new Krueger is great as we are given a new improved back-story that doesn't quite work. At one point I was optimistic that we were going to get something new and incredibly impressive despite the poor narrative. Piece by piece we learn that Freddy was a gardener at a nursery school who becomes accused of being a paedophile. All the teenagers being stalked accused him of being a rapist and their parents tracked Krueger down and burnt him alive. It's then suggested that Krueger was innocent and is returning from the grave to exact his revenge. I thought this was a fantastic idea that gave his character more depth, it had me questioning who to root for and then 10 minutes after this revelation it was debunked. No, he was a paedophile and he just wants revenge because they told. I suppose it works but I like the other set up better.

Despite my affinity for the new Krueger this is a terrible movie. The acting is awful; the story goes nowhere and it's even more of a bore if you've seen any Nightmare On Elm street movie prior. I don't want to encourage people to go and see this at the cinema as the studio really doesn't deserve your money. I say wait for the DVD to see Jackie Earle Haley's great performance. Out of all the Nightmare films that have been release this sits side by side with A Nightmare On Elm Street Part 2 (Freddy's Revenge) – it's not worse but at the same time it's definitely not better. On a side note, in America this movie made enough money to guarantee a sequel which was announced the opening weekend. I am optimistic the sequel will be far superior with a fresh story not relying on the original and Hickey's return, unfortunately this is not that film. 4/10

Originally intended to be a prequel – maybe one day we'll actually get that film
The film is a hybrid of four different scripts that went through 15 drafts – no wonder it was shit
Jackie Earle Haley would improvise lines to unease his co–stars

Other reviews in the series

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Freddy vs. Jason

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: Samuel Bayer
Screenplay: Wesley Strick
Eric Heisserer
Released: 2010
Starring:Jackie Earle Haley
Kyle Gallner
Rooney Mara