Home > Reviews > Review: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010)

Review: “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010)

Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Produced by: Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller
Written by: Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Wesley Strick (story)
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Year: 2010

 

I will refrain from mentioning Michael Bay… I will refrain from mentioning Michael Bay… I will refrain from… Oh! Hi! Welcome, my friends, to my final Nightmare on Elm Street review for this Halloween season. We end this streak with something more terrifying than a chainsaw-wielding maniac… more chilling than a ghost who doesn’t know he’s been dead the whole time… more evil than [EXAMPLE]. Today, we examine… A HORROR MOVIE REMAKE. *lightning and thunder*

Today’s feature is the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, a modern day revival of that cult classic story that, as we all know by now, I wasn’t the biggest fan of, but always held a certain level of reverence for, in the same way I do for the Final Fantasy series, and yet I do not play.

This film basically borrows (steals?) the basic framework of the 1984 feature and, yes, updates it! Because it was ever so necessary, you see. Look! They’ve inserted cellphones and the internet! I can so relate now. I’m not one to click my tongue at those who wish to remake films — as long as those remakes are good, like say… Freaky Friday. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. If you can’t tell already, this movie absolutely blows.

I don’t want to get too much into the plot. I’ve already gone through that before, and this movie is pretty much the same, only not worth the time it takes to retype it all, so here it is in summary: A few kids are haunted by nightmares of the same freaky guy with the striped sweater, hat, and clawed hand. Freaky guy’s name is Freddy, and he’s seeking revenge for his death at the hands of their parents. Freddy can attack only in your dreams and his attacks have real life consequences, including death. Kids must stop him. Kids stop him. The end…?

While the original film had a sound premise and some memorable scenes, I did feel as though some of the acting and the direction were a bit… amateurish? Sure, let’s use that word. But again, I get it. I get the love for the original, and I was made to reconsider the series with a couple of the sequels, even. Freddy’s an iconic villain and Nancy became stronger over time, herself, so, yes, I do get it now.

What I don’t get are the random changes that first time feature length director Samuel Bayer thought were absolutely important. I’m not going to criticize him because of his extensive music video work, but it does seem like Bayer suffers from the same style-and-action-over-substance syndrome as his producer, Michael Bay… D’oh! I mentioned him!… Oh well.

The first bad choice they made was their casting and altering of characters. Are we seriously supposed to relate to these guys? I know I’m new to this horror thing and all, but what happened in the translation from 1984 to 2010? The 1984 kids were goofy, rowdy, identifiably teenagers. The 2010 “kids” are pretty dolls being posed in front of a camera. Why am I watching a Halloween episode of America’s Next Top Model instead of A Nightmare on Elm Street? (…Top Model is still a thing on TV right?)

FIERCE!

We spend a great deal of time with Kris Fowles (Katie Cassidy, who seems to be angling to usurp all the scream queen thrones with roles in the remakes of When a Stranger Calls and Black Christmas). Kris is the stand in for the original’s Tina. Kris = Tina. Kristina… Clever? Anyway, she’s really worried for her boyfriend, who hasn’t been sleeping due to his awful nightmares.  One dark and stormy night, he meets with Kris to tell her he’s been having nightmares about some scary dude. She tells him he’s paranoid, walks away to clean off the coffee he frustratedly spills on her, and comes back just in time to watch him slice his own throat. This, of course, causes her to spend the rest of her time having the same paranoid dreams.

Audiences who’ve seen the original will spend the first half counting down the time until she’s torn to shreds and/or wondering why Bayer is making this perpetually mascara’d girl in the expensive clothes the new focus of this remake. New audiences should be clued in on the fact that she will, in fact, be eviscerated because A) she’s a skank who totally deserved it because she not only sleeps around, but sleeps around right after she just lost her boyfriend, whom she is supposedly still getting over, and of course B) there’s that one girl introduced briefly at the beginning who’s more dour, earthy, and artsy looking, so, of course, we’re supposed to identify with her more. Look, she’s totally working below minimum wage as a waitress and wears a brown knit hat, okay? She is us!

Of course, this is supposed to be Nancy, the only character aside from Freddy to bear her original name. Nancy, as played here by Rooney Mara, is awkward, lonely, and quiet. This is supposed to be deep. Her love interest is Quentin (Kyle Gallner, Veronica Mars), this movies’ parallel to the original’s Glen. Quentin is also awkward, lonely, and quiet. This is also supposed to be deep. They are friends, I think, to Kris, Kris’ late boyfriend Dean (Kellan Lutz), and Kris’ replacement for Dean and her ex-boyfriend before him, Jesse (Thomas Dekker, The Sarah Connor Chronicles). Or maybe they’re just all acquaintances. The original film made a point of having the kids all be friends, including the jerkish Rod, but you kind of get the feeling that, in this movie, Kris, Dean, and possibly Jesse all live(d) on a completely different social plane away from Nancy and Glen, which takes away from some of the character interactions. I guess this is supposed to show just how far this Freddy Krueger thing spread.

Speaking of Freddy, Jackie Earl Haley (Watchmen, Breaking Away) is possibly the only decent thing about this movie. He doesn’t replicate Robert Englund’s performance at all except for in the more iconic body language, but that’s not exactly a terrible thing. His makeup is different, made to look more like the melted flesh of a real burn victim, and some computer generated imagery is used to enhance his look, as well as the tricks he has up his sleeve. He’s dropped the one-liners and laughs for a fairlyly creepy, sensual growl, which is more in line with the decision to return to his creator Wes Craven’s original intentions for the character to be a child molester, rather than a mindless murderer.

Freddy shows his tender side.

Sadly, the story is executed horribly. Characters are made to react very weirdly to the events of the film. Once the secret about why he met his demise gets out, the characters… defend him? For Nancy and Glen to defend Krueger, despite the evidence that is readily apparent to them, just feels absolutely wrong and out of character. I guess this, too, is supposed to add depth.

Unfortunately, the story problems extend to dialogue problems. The dialogue is just abysmally plain and feels like a prefabricated framework the filmmakers bought and then forgot to build off of with more interesting, deeper things to say. One character will say something like, “Did we ever know a guy named Freddy?” and another character will stare for a second, startled, and then say, “I don’t think so,” as if that weren’t an obvious lie, before rushing out of the room and mysteriously let an offscreen character know that the other one is starting to remember. But then this isn’t even built upon because that character’s telling everyone the entire back story of Freddy a few minutes later for us anyway, so there’s very little time to let these secrets sink in. There’s just too much explanation, not enough development.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is just terrible. It is tacky, poorly acted, horribly scripted, and, worst of all, absolutely boring. Remember my ruling on Sleepy Hollow? Remember how much I hated that movie more than anything at the time due to how boring it was? This was about as boring and even more poorly put together. The only reason I felt compelled to keep going on with it is because I had become so familiar with the series as of late (and have been accused of being a “remake lover” by some dude on a certain thread) that I felt as though I owed it to myself and you guys to see just how this film compared to the original cult classic. The answer is, it doesn’t even. Do not waste your time.

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 0.5 / 5

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