A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC A Nightmare On Elm Street 2010

I neglected to include the reboot, reimagining, or remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street in my dissection of the series on the whole because 1. I hadn’t seen the film at the time (nor had I planned to.) And 2. Because I hold the original film to such a high regard and have such love for the Englund based series of films on the whole (no matter how dumb some of them were) that I couldn’t bring myself to watch the ‘2.0’ version.

Needless to say, boredom, availability and my sadistic impulse to see JUST how bad some movies are, often gets the best of me (say hello Snakes on a Train!)…

Before I get to the “review” itself I must say that I try not to publicly eviscerate any film (I save that for private conversations with my friends, such as the by-the-minute text review I sent my buddy Kaleb during THIS film.)

While I do LOVE reading bad reviews, I don’t like writing them because I feel it better to promote good films you love and respect or bad movies that are so bad that they achieve a level of sainted perfection so wondrous it must be shared…

This review will be neither of the above things. It will be a scathing rant.

In general I do not like most modern remakes, but I am not wholly against them, as a lot of people are, just because they are remakes. I liked Zach Synder’s Dawn of the Dead and rather enjoyed the redoing of Last House on the Left (considering how shitty the original is ANYTHING would be an improvement.) Then of course there are the more overtly well regarded remakes such as 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1988’s The Blob and of course John Carpenter’s masterful version of The Thing (to name a few.) Most modern remakes however are of the trashy, quick, cheap and vapid “we’re remaking this because we own the title or franchise of the originals and people know those movies so naturally they’ll come see the new version” type (ie what the new, new version of The Thing appears to be from it’s trailer.)

The original Elm Street (as I mentioned previously) is a low budget masterpiece of horror. Done on $1.8 million, Wes Craven and his talented band of actors and crew crafted a psychologically demented, fairly intellectual, exceedingly atmospheric, visually ambitious, utterly visceral horror experience that helped shape and change the face of the genre for an entire generation.

Nightmare 2.0 is not.

Nightmare 2.0 is complete and utter garbage on every level, from the first frame to the last, behind the camera and in front of it. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 5 The Dream Child is Citizen Kane by comparison.

Hell, if you took that little near series killing bit at the end of Friday the 13th Part VIII Jason Takes Manhattan, where Jason’s mask gets ripped off and he screams in a childlike voice “Mommy!” and stretched it into a 90 minute film it’d be better than Elm Street 2.0….

In fact…. There is an old (fairly bad) comedy video I did in which song writer Jim Steinman babysits a drunk girl (don’t ask); in this video there is a 2 second shot of said drunk girl drooling and looking blandly past the camera; if you took just that little bit and put it on loop for 90 minutes it would be a more enriching cinematic experience, with deeper characterization and greater emotional impact!

Long gone are the carefully crafted and suspenseful ‘reality to nightmare’ transitions and blurring of the lines between the two worlds (that even the sequels managed to do expertly); instead we get a flat, lifeless visual style similar to that of any TV show that might be presented on the CW.

Basically if Beige were a horror film, it would be Nightmare 2.0 (and probably a lot scarier.) No more are the halcyon days of excellent to decent acting found in the first film (and once again the sequels), in its stay are a parade of personality devoid Barbies and Kens either woodenly forcing their way through half baked lines and trite exposition, or mush mouthing the banal dialog in a faux-emo perpetuation of an approximation of bad method acting. (Also, the score is the atypical, done entirely by computer crap found in most movies of this type these days. The original theme is only heard once, briefly, over the horribly CGIed title Card. The rest is just droning synth violins, jump stings and drum beats. Aside of course for one woefully out of place bit of somber Celtic Choir and Ethereal Orchestral arrangement.)

We are no longer treated to likeable or individual characters (PARTICULARLY found in the sequels, ie the Dream Warriors), everyone is the same. The writers might have well named them A, B, and C, because that is about the same level of impression they made. As is often the case the bulk of the “High School” aged characters appear to be in their late 20’s (unlike in the original when the 20 something actors at least SEEMED like they could be 17.) And, perhaps as an homage to the white bread original (I doubt it) there isn’t even the usual PC, token black friend in this film (although there is an Asian character who gets about 2 seconds of screen time.) One character gets a tad bit of attempted “depth” in his execution in that he is named “Quentin.” You see late in the film Quentin delivers an adrenaline shot to the chest of a friend… Like in Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino… (Just let that chestnut of film school caliber witticism set in with you.)

All of the nightmare sequences in the film are presented so brazenly as being dream sequences (flat, lifeless, unmemorable and clichéd dream sequences) they might as well have a flashing neon sign pop on screen bashing the fact in with a shovel (oh wait, they did, during the first one, when it cuts to “dream” mode “subtle” red and green flashes of neon light hit the dreamer’s face.)Every pretense of keeping the audience in the dark and surprising them in some way has been disbanded. Also, as is de rigeur with modern horror films there is zero attempt at generating suspense of any sort; instead we get the always unappreciated “let the soundtrack go silent for a beat, then have a jump sting on the score and have something out of place edit into frame ‘menacingly'” type deals.

The one scene that ALMOST garnered some level of decency ends with the most god awful jump scare I have EVER seen (and I did see the remake of The Fog theatrically), was a dream sequence in which they subtly increase the size and amount of bookshelves in the background of a library as the dreamer walks along becoming increasingly weary of the situation (ie showing no emotion at all) until he comes to a table where Fred Krueger sits (leaving ample opportunity for more capable hands to have Freddy reading something humorous, maybe Goosebumps or Nancy Drew); anyways, once at said table what appears to be a still image of Krueger (making no discernable facial expression, menacing or otherwise), randomly jump cuts backwards, facing the dreamer while loud music blares on the score… That’s it. That was the scare. (Yes, terror via bad photoshopping, this is what we have come to.)

Oh, and speaking of Krueger… Jesus wept! Jackie Earl Haley (a fine actor under most circumstances) delivers a performance so God awful I can hardly find words to describe it… But, let me try…

Vocally, imagine a more heavily retarded Forrest Gump channeling Christian Bale’s Clint Eastwoodian-with throat cancer Batman and you’ll get close. Visually, the beyond shitty burn make-up/piss poor CGI ends up turning Haley/Krueger into not so much an object of abject terror to be feared and dreaded, but more like the bastard offspring of Edward James Olmos and James Hong (seriously, Cropsy from The Burning looks like a more realistic burn victim.) Physically Haley does resemble Englund, and some of his one liners would be good IF it were Englund delivering them, but really Haley has nothing to do but walk around scraping his (at times comically oversized glove) on things creating sparks (horribly inaccurate, edited in sparks) and being randomly (and poorly) edited into the scenes by way of jump cuts.

Plot wise the film is basically its own unholy device, careening along from random nightmare, to random nightmare, with no real rhyme or reason, occasionally name checking a line of dialog or iconic moment from the original, while also adding to the mix a few bits of horror cliché (random walking around the attic-in-the-dark scene) and gratuitous lots of hot guys in speedo scene that the original was SORELY lacking in. The film’s only mild bit of originality (and it could have worked VERY well in other hands) was that in the final act they clearly made Krueger a child molester as opposed to a child killer. And, SPOLIER ALERT, all of the High School aged murder victims in the film were previously his molestation victims (that told on him) at the pre-school he worked at (as a gardener, and yes, we do get a shot of pre-burn Freddy holding a three pronged garden trowel) before becoming a dream jumping serial murderer.

However, the film botches it’s one unique touch by 1. Freddy being presented as possibly innocent for most of the film. 2. Revealing all of the information in a convoluted, yet completely uninteresting manner. And, 3. Glossing over all of the darker implications that go along with the subject matter, instead relying solely on the fact that implicitly stating that someone was a child molester should make you shit your pants.

(On a side note, I always assumed Freddy of yesterday was both a molester AND a killer of children. That’s what kept made him so scary in the first 3 films and what made his descent into comedic anti-hero of the series even more darkly humorous.)

Basically (if I haven’t already) I can sum up the whole of the film in 2 ways…

First, the equivalent scene of Tina’s “being dragged around the room and slashed up” death (terrifying, unique and blood soaked originally) from the first, can be found in this film… However “Tina” looks EXACTLY like Tori Spelling in Scary Movie 2 (right down to the Football Jersey) and the filming of the scene comes across as laugh out loud funny due to the fact that she gets thrown around the (too brightly lit) room like a rag doll and then slashed ONE nearly bloodless time.

Second, from IMDB’s Trivia for the film… “John Saxon was offered a cameo in the film, he turned it down as he could not fit it into his schedule.”

-247 out of 10 “Hilariously Inept Final Shots (Which Try and Replicate the Mother Killing Kicker of the Original but Fail Miserably in the Process)”

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