A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street is infuriatingly pointless. It is neither exciting, scary, smart, sharp, funny, creepy or effective – it is simply expected and utterly dull. Do not watch this film – go to sleep instead.

For every great Hills Have Eyes remake there’s a diabolical Halloween re-imagining, for every explosive Dawn of the Dead reboot there’s a throwaway Last House on the Left redo, and for every decent Texas Chainsaw Massacre re-creation there’s a dull Nightmare on Elm Street re-envisaging. More prone to utter cinematic failure, the horror remake wagon takes another hefty blow, producing an incredibly poor remake of a film that spawned seven sequels, a television series and even a video game. The 2010 version will only spawn a shameless pot of cashing-in money and a lot of disappointment.

Perhaps disappointment is the wrong word to describe a re-imagining of such a classic horror film. The expectations were not high – they rarely are for remakes, as the motive for re-creating them always seems suspicious. If it truly is to bring a quality idea to a modern audience, then the modern audience clearly likes heaps and heaps of rubbish.

For those who’ve seen the original, the remake’s plot is exactly the same. For those who haven’t, here’s the plot – the children of Elm Street (and beyond) are having nightmares. Each one features a man in a striped vest, a bladed glove and a horribly burnt face – a face hidden deep in their past and returning to haunt them. But not just haunt them – to kill them. This is Freddy Krueger – horror’s nightmare man. Possessing the power to murder his victims in their sleep, the remaining teenagers of Elm Street must fight sleep deprivation to discover who this mystery assailant is, and how to stop him.

During the film we’re informed that after 72 hours without sleep you experience micro-naps, which makes things even harder for the unfortunate teens. Well, after 72 minutes of watching the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake you’ll be lucky if you’re not in a coma.

This remake / re-imagining / cash-cow forgoes any elements of tension and replaces it with short bursts of uninspired, epileptic violence, even daring to take classics scenes from the original and ruin them entirely. The memorable death of Nancy’s friend, which had her dragged slowly up a wall and across the ceiling, has been replaced with a woman-shaped pinball being confusingly slammed around the walls before being sliced open. It’s swift, dull and baffling – something the film is drowning in.

Our protagonists are Nancy Holbrook and Quentin Smith, who’re played with little lovability by Rooney Mara and Kyle Gallner. They bumble through the forgettable script, jumping from brief set-piece to brief set-piece, never really compelling the viewer to watch them or, unfortunately, care about them in any way. But this is an A Nightmare on Elm Street film and, as the latter films shamelessly admitted, it’s all about Freddy! Sadly, in this recent case, Freddy fails to excite.

Mumbling like a drunken Jimmy Stewart impressionist, the mask-burdened Jackie Earle Hayley creates a Freddy that is neither scary nor funny. He just exists, waltzing through the film with a careless gait that neither screams aggression nor quiet rage – more a shruggable ambivalence to the death he’s destined to deal.

Not everything about this remake is terrible, however. The inclusion of Clancy Brown is always welcome, although he is hugely characterless, and some of the production designs are fantastically well crafted, being simultaneously beautiful and dangerous. One or two moments may also impress – a video diary of one of Freddy’s victims is surprisingly effective. Yet the majority of the scares are weak, the script is utterly pedestrian and the homage moments are embarrassing in their total ineptitude. The inevitable “final scare” is so badly constructed it leaves a horrible taste of excruciating disappointment floating in your mouth. What could have rebooted a tired franchise has simply reinforced our fears about remaking horror classics.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is incredibly poor. It is needless and pointless, and a waste of a decent idea that could’ve been done in a terrifying and modern way. It is a cowardly remake that fails to scare, excite or interest. If Freddy does exist, don’t see this film or you’ll be dead in seconds – boring and unoriginal. Avoid.

Rating: ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆

3 Comments on “A Nightmare On Elm Street”

  1. Aaron Gillott says:

    Great review, Dave, I saw this the other night and you hit the nail right on the head. Pretty much everything intimates that they either have no idea (or just don’t care about) what made Craven’s film work so effectively, perhaps best shown in the fact they have the gall to steal some of the original’s setpieces but they come across as completely limp and lifeless. Like the claw in the bathtub scene, it’s done so quickly and poorly and consequently has none of the tension that it had in the original, so I can only assume that it was put in to tick a box of stuff the committee involved in these cold, cynical marketing scams known as remakes instructed him to do based on some research into demographics rather than any understanding of horror filmmaking. And spot-on with the “ceiling crawl” rip-off being absolutely absurd – I’d love for someone to re-edit that scene with The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” as the background music, it would at least be funnier for it.

    What I really, really missed though – the parents. Their secretive world is integral into what makes the original work, being as the whole thing is meant to have a kind of “sins of the fathers” reading behind it, especially with the parts played by Ronnee Blakely and John Saxon. I’d assumed when I read the casting that that’s why they’d drafted Clancy Brown, to be a substitute in this version for the role John Saxon played, and I thought it was a great bit of casting. How wrong was I? Not because there’s anything wrong with Clancy Brown, he’s always watchable, he’s just criminally underused – I mean, apart from showing up in the final third to play Basil Exposition for 5 minutes, what the hell does he actually do in this film? Bugger all! Total waste of a great character actor.

    I watched the original recently on Blu-Ray, and the remastered transfer is absolutely breathtaking, it looks fresher and more vital than I’ve ever seen it in any previous version. People would be better off treating themselves to that than spending so much as another penny on this pitiful, pathetic remake which serves only to line Michael Bay’s pockets so that he can keep on doing the same thing over and over.

  2. Daniel Kent says:

    James Earl Jones should play Freddie

  3. Jess says:

    Just watched this film again (somehow I managed to forget how shockingly awful it was the first time) and I must say it almost made me cry.

    I love the original franchise and this film just seemed to shit all over it and even manages to ruin some of my favourite scenes. Although some scenes truly are beautiful, it is the only redeeming feature from this massacre of a franchise.

    (Without wanting to ramble and bore everyone – I’ll leave that to this abysmal film) Freddy is one of my favourite villians of all time but even he lacks the sort of charm and humour that we’ve come to know and love.

    Don’t even get me started on the SFX!!!!!

    Conclusion: Don’t mess with/break that which was never broken/already fixed.

    Oh, and if you want a laugh/make yourself really angry (maybe that’s just me) watch the special features on the DVD – the makers of this film seem to think they are doing something original and ‘creating a new franchise’ – No they are not – they just bloody stole one – get your own…
    funniest line from said special features “…we have included some CGI that we think fans will be really excited about…” Why I oughta…

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