A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Sometimes it’s good to see a movie just so you can bitch on it all the way through. When you’re a soulless, sarcastic, cynical, emotionless shithead with no prospects, no ambitions, no girlfriend,  and you can’t cut your hair because people will realize you’re going bald at the age of 20…

I mean, what I’m saying is sometimes it’s nice to know there are people more shit than you in the world. The people at Platinum Dunes, for example.

Platinum Dunes is a production company created by Michael Bay, making a name for itself by remaking classic hacky-slashy horror movies of the 70s and 80s, including the recent crappy remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. It was clear from the moment it was announced, there would be no hope for this new Nightmare movie.

At least that’s what I thought before I saw it.

And also after I saw it.

To the films credit, there’s no doubt it will inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers across the globe, and gives you a great sense that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

By which I mean a whole new generation of potential filmmakers will go see the movie and think “wow, if this shit can actually get made then surely so can any piece of crap I dream up.” And it manages to do the impossible by making a Nightmare on Elm Street film boring.

Now, there’s no denying the original series had some stinkers. The second film is generally considered to have been scrubbed from continuity, with later instalments largely ignoring its existence, but it was still pretty fun watching Freddy fight his way out from inside a teenager’s body. The series could arguably be summed up as crap but creative, cheesy, visually underwear-dirtying fun (the Craven-helmed instalments are mostly exempt from the first part of that). And never boring. This new one, however, I would summarize thusly: some paint dries, then a dog shits on it.

Freddy Krueger has always been one of my favourite movie villains. I find I can relate to him more than I can others. We both have a twisted sense of humour, and we both hate kids. The new Krueger, however, carries neither of these traits. His revised back-story reveals that he actually loved kids a disturbing amount, and doesn’t appear to have any sense of humour whatsoever, leading to a disappointing lack of any particularly imaginative kills in favour of a whole bunch of boring stabbings to the guts. No wise cracks. No dog that pisses fire. No teenager being told off by her mother’s decapitated head.

Michael Bay must have known this film was doomed to be terrible from the onset as the life of the series itself plays out like an old horror movie premise. Soon after it was born, the original picked up a rather severe case of sequelitis, which caused the series’ behaviour to become ever more bloody mental. Eventually, though, the infection took its life. The series was doing well in horror movie heaven, even bumping into fellow late slasher franchise Friday the 13th (and almost The Evil Dead at the same time, but we settled for a comic version of that particular wet dream). But, like a grieving dad in a Steven King story, along came Michael Bay to resurrect the franchise. And as we all know, they never come back the same. The resulting zombie is a mere hideously deformed shadow of its former self.

It’s relatively faithful in a visual way. A few set pieces are recycled from the 1984 original and these end up being the best parts of the flick. Those deprived enough to have never seen the original should consider these moments, such as the clawed hand in the bath and the morphing wall, a brief insight into what a good film looks like.

Then again, I’m probably looking at this the wrong way. So lets try coming at this from a different angle, that of an unbiased, professional critic, rather than a geek with a slight case of fanboy-rage.

Yep. It’s still shit.

The acting is sub-par (bar Jackie Earle Haley, who puts in a good performance as Freddy. Shame the character was written so poorly) and the characters themselves are far from the most likeable bunch. There’s the new, no-personality Nancy; there’s the courage deficient fellow who you’d think would be the one who’ll get the most development as he overcomes his cowardice and eventually saves the day, but really only has one vaguely heroic moment if the meaning of the word is stretched to its absolute limit; and a bunch of other douchebags, to all of whom I wished a very grisly death so they could make room for what I was hoping would be a sort of “true” cast. You know, the people we’re supposed to be rooting for.

Once again, though, I was disappointed both times. There wasn’t a Friday the 13th style attempt at fitting several of the original films in one remake so I had to put up with the same annoying dicks and bitches for an unreasonable hour and a half. On top of that, as mentioned before, their deaths weren’t nearly as entertaining as one would have hoped or expected. The least I expect from an irritating little shit is a bloody, violent death (my therapist doesn’t seem to agree, though, and it’s starting to get on my nerves).

The plot, for the most part, is a standard ‘80s slasher movie plot. Here are some teenagers, lets kill them all. This is, of course, entirely ok given the source material it’s based on. However, there are a few newer elements shoved in there that don’t work quite so well.

The concept of mini-naps is introduced, which basically means people fall asleep for brief seconds at a time without them realising it. This serves as a means for Freddy to pop up at more unpredictable times rather than when people are blatantly dreaming (as in previous instalments), but only ever achieves a sense that the writers don’t really know what to do with him, leading to the loss of pretty much everything that made him stand out among the horde of ‘80s slasher villains.

Now, if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t believe that every village has an idiot because you run around the streets of your village at night calling for him and you’ve never run into him, then you may still be thinking of actually seeing this abomination. Well there are spoilers ahead. So look away now, cover your ears and skip the next paragraph.

There’s a new twist added to the story. Well, sort of. Remember I said new Freddy was way too interested in kids during his lifetime? That’s right, he’s a kiddie fiddler. And the teenagers he’s now killing are the ones he molested all those years ago, seemingly for revenge after they testified against him, which, obviously, is what caused the parents to burn his face off. The kids, though, have conveniently repressed this memory over the years (yes, the whole class) and now, as he’s killing them off one by one, the victims just can’t be sure whether or not he actually did the dirty deed he went down for. It seams like it could potentially be a groovy new angle on the series. Did he really do it, or is his revenge all for being wrongly put to death? “Who cares?” would be the writers’ answer who, not long into this new development, shrug their shoulders and give up on it completely.

Which is probably the best thing they could do at that point. This whole “sympathy for the devil” thing is just bullcrap. Haven’t we learned this from Rob Zombie’s Halloween? Or the one part of Freddy Vs. Jason I really disliked? I think it’s about time horror writers have a serious think about where their loyalties stand. When the monster becomes a tragic, misunderstood individual it ceases to be scary. I can’t help but think this rather misses the point of the whole “horror” aspect.

So, on the one hand, this film will certainly give you nightmares. On the other hand, they’ll be nightmares about wasting further hours of your life watching other such terrible movies. It’s dull and not scary, and on top of that, it’s insulting to the fans of the series and the genre in general. For whatever reason, Michael Bay just can’t seem to make a film that hasn’t been dumbed down as if he believes all moviegoers to be complete retards. Well fuck you, Michael Bay. Lets see you try to make a plain cheeseburger and a quarter pounder with extra pickle at the same time.

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  1. ahh, A Nightmare on elm street, First of all let me say I agree with you here, why on earth would they get Jackie Earl Hailey to play the iconic figure Freddie Krueger, the voice was completely off, no humor, ans the kills were dry. Platinum Dunes which ia known for making terrible remakes does it yet again with thistrash can of a film.

  2. Matthew Kane says:

    “I find I can relate to him more than I can others. We both have a twisted sense of humour, and we both hate kids.”

    Goodness, is that ever twisted. Haha.

    My biggest gripe with this movie is that it takes itself so damn seriously. The original was by no means comedy (they left that for the sequels), but it was inspired wickedness. There are few horror pleasures sweeter than when Wes Craven works from the right scripts (the original “Nightmare,” “Scream”). There are few horror mistakes more off-putting than a silly concept given a serious treatment.

    Side note: I love “The Dark Knight,” but damn it, Hollywood needs to back off with the “gritty” films. I understand that Christopher Nolan didn’t invent dark, gritty movies, but he sure as hell sold it to this generation.

  3. hsutt, when they announced Jackie Earle Haley was the one to take over from Robert Englund, I was actually a little pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting a name actor to get the role, and I quite enjoyed his performance as Rorschach in Watchmen. It’s a shame they didn’t really give him anything to do in this one.

    Matthew, while I agree with your comment on new dark, gritty, realistic movies (particularly in the superhero genre), I think a lot of credit is due to Nolan for making it work so well in the Batman universe. I mean, when it all comes down to it, we’re watching a film about a man who runs around town, punching ne’er-do-wells in the face, all the while dressed as a freakin’ bat. And we’re supposed to take this guy serously? Yes, says Nolan. And we do.

    The thing is, a LOT of money goes into movies, so naturally studios want to be damn sure they can get that money back, which is why they’re so fond of adaptations, remakes, sequels, etc. Few people want to invest heavily in an original piece full of new characters that haven’t made someone else money in the past. So Christopher Nolan comes along, makes a lot of money, and there you have it: instant bandwagon.

  4. No, Christopher Nolan had beautiful conventions, and the movie contained an amazing plot, amazing acting and phenomenal writing. The new Nightmare sucked because it didn’t contain any of the conventions needed to be good. You can’t even compare the two movies. Its not a bandwagon, by the way, to like a damn good movie. Are you saying if you like Forrest Gump then you’re bandwagon-ing for the sake of liking the same movie everyone else does?

  5. btw, good review, completely agree.

  6. I wasn’t comparing the two movies, I was talking about The Dark Knight separately.
    And I was saying Hollywood jumps on the bandwagon by taking the conventions of popular movies and trying to apply them to newer ones thinking they’ll also become popular because of it, and it becomes a trend. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
    I never said anyone was jumping on the bandwagon just by liking the movie. I really like The Dark Knight myself, hence my praise of Nolan in my previous comment. I guess I worded it a bit strangely, but I did say “a lot of credit is due to Nolan”; and how we take Batman seriously now, something people were unlikely to do after the Burton/Schumacher films.

  7. sorry, I also misread it to go along with the wording so I ended up jumbles of confused. But yes, they often try to implement successful details into movies that are set to fail just because they want to reach and audience by saying “if you liked (title here), then you’ll LOVE (title here).” Sorry for misreading it, and I agree with you.

  8. No worries, you had me mighty confused myself there. Haha.

    Btw, glad you like the review, I understand I have a rather unconventional writing style. People tend to be quite divided over whether it works or not.

  9. it is a good style, just develop vocab and it’ll be killer.

  10. Oh my dear jesus, I loved this review. This movie is GODAWFUL and you have made me laugh out loud like, 8 times. Thumbs up to a kick ass analysis of a truly heinous piece of refuse. I couldn’t love or agree with your last paragraph any more.

  11. PS: I dig your review style; I always prefer more of the reviewer opinion vs. lengthy plot description. I’m not trying to watch the movie in a review; I want a brief summary, then to hear what somebody actually thought, with a good dose of humor.

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