A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

I really wanted to give this movie a chance. I really tried to be fair and not judge it based on the original. I really wanted to forget that it was produced by Platinum Dunes. But, alas, it can not be so. This movie stinks bad. It is, in the end, really boring and/or a piece of sadistic garbage.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the original. I think the A Nightmare on Elm Street series is the best of the mainstream ’80s horror franchises. I think this because it, for one, actually has a moderately well thought out mythology. The major reason I hated this remake, above many other smaller reasons, was its insistence on changing a key detail (spoilers commence now): Freddy Krueger is definitively proven to be an actual child molester. Now, perhaps my memory is faulty, or I have misread some nuance of the original storyline, but I believe this was never the case in the original. Not only is the first film vague, but in Freddy’s Dead, where there is a significant tangential backstory, the school gardener is misinterpreted by the parents of the town to be such a deviant and given a literal trial by fire outside the realm of the Law (now he may have actually killed children; I’m not sure about that, but I believe he was caught and released). It is this “sins of the father, delivered upon the children” detail that allegedly allows Freddy the supernatural power to hunt the children of these parents. That’s the horror element: the children have to fight for their lives, in their dreams, because the parents took Freddy’s away (Just like the kids at Crystal Lake have to do the same because they have pre-marital sex or the residents of Haddonfield have to die because they allowed a child to be locked away in an asylum like a criminal).
This new film defines Freddy as a clear monster removing any ambiguity of morality from the living parents or children. That, dear reader, is what makes this film a total piece of garbage. Why does death allow Freddy to come back and multiply his evil? Without explaining this motivation, it simply appears that the parents (and in turn the children) are suddenly justified in their retaliation, now that the ‘truth’ is known retrospectively. What exactly is the point of THAT? Go ahead and make an argument that this film is some new millennial commentary on our cultural tendencies to voluntarily erase the past or (re)construct history based on our present knowledge (Freddy as a literal terrorist, etc.).
This film just isn’t that smart.

It is curious that the purpose for the change of this relevant detail is left unsupported, while other less innocuous ones, like how the teens are able to keep from literally falling down asleep, are overdone. “Zoneral” and Epinephrine keep the final guy alive (while the girl, in a turn of clear gender bias/commentary, merely chooses to self-immolate herself with the car lighter). And the mention of “micro-naps” excuse the over-occasional scary insert. Please.
The film at times seems to want to stay faithful to the mythology (Nancy does run upstairs after all), but just can’t seem to get a handle on what it’s supposed to be “re-imagining”. Let’s go back to the violation of the final girl rule (Another major spoiler follows): The ‘boyfriend’ stays alive. This should not be so, dear reader. Nancy should be the one to ride away in the ambulance all alone. I mean, she didn’t even get to run through the liminal womb of the woods outside the preschool. Jeez. At least she re-phallicized herself with the paper-cutter machete. If there is a sequel to this remake, perhaps some of these bad decisions or lack of insight will be fleshed out. Though, I’m not sure if I even care.

Why must every Platinum Dunes movie look exactly the same? Dark colors and grainy tones do not a scarier movie make. I am extremely tired of this post-Saw color palette being used by every mainstream horror reboot. People were holding out for Samuel Bayer to contribute some sort of mark on this film to distinguish it from the previous crap remakes, but I don’t think I could tell the difference if you switched all the directors’ names around on the films. Of course, hiring someone who’s actually made a feature-length horror film before might be worth considering in the future as well….

A few more complaints:
Every supporting character in this film was wasted, especially Connie Britton (ditto Clancy Brown).
Kyle Gallner needs to make a movie in which he is 1) not wearing a band t-shirt from before he was born (this time Joy Division), 2) goth eyeliner, or 3) taking drugs. Thank you.
Jackie Earle Haley needs to tell his agent to throw out all scripts requiring him to 1) wear a mask or 2) be a child molester. Ok?

Ok. Again, there’s not much substance here. I just wanted to let YOU know that this movie is disappointing (just in case you were deluding yourself into thinking that it might possibly be good). Just watch the original again. Or Dream Warriors. Heck, watch New Nightmare (probably Wes Craven‘s best film; his own pre-Scream foray into po-mo horror). This might be my most whiny review so far. I’ll try to avoid this in the future, since I try not to review what I don’t like. I just couldn’t help myself with this one.


5 Responses to “A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)”

  1. 1 aimee premo
    June 1, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    I would have to say that I am huge Wes Craven fan. Heck, I am a huge horror film fan for that matter. I am however, going to have to agree with Brandon and his intake on this disapointing “remake” of the film. I am in the moment watching it, and lets just say that when I watch a film that I am enjoying, or at least think that there is a chance I will enjoy it, well, I wouldnt be, not only reading, but emailing about the film that I am watching. I have never listened to critics or what my friends think or have thought about movies when it comes to telling me to “not waste mY time” but I wish I had this time. I cant even begin to tell you what part of this movie disapointed me the most. Maybe allof it. I am hoping that a “part 2” is not in the works, for the simple fact that I will have to do everything in my power to NOT see it. Like I stated I am a huge fan of both Wes Craven and horror movies, but not a fan of bad movies. I really do wish I had something good to say about this movie, but the truth is I dont. Maybe Rob Zombie will get called in for assistance, and we can get back to enjoying horror classics the way they should be enjoyed, watched and liked!! Thank you!!!

  2. 2 Devora Rubow
    October 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I normally don’t do this sort of thing, but.. look. I hate to burst the bubble of the “moral ambiguity” thing.. but Fred Krueger was originally meant to be a child molester. If you look into the original series franchise with any real conviction, and I have, because I am a serious fan, you will hear those words from Wes Craven himself. That idea for the script for this “new” movie did not come out of thin air. I am not going to go on a tirade about whether or not this one is better or worse, or if they should have or not, but I will say this, in point of fact, they probably, for more than one reason, did a pretty fair job at least at holding close to Wes Craven’s original vision. Nothing much was originally made of Freddy’s being a child molester, because of a trial that involved a real child molester around the same time, they did not want to come off as being insensitive or as trying to profit off of such a terrible thing, of course. Another thing, too, that you will hear Wes Craven say, is that they struggled terribly with the ending, and that still, nobody was satisfied with it. There was never, ever, under any circumstances any question of Freddy’s guilt, EVER. He was released on a technicality (which Nancy’s mother tells her down in the basement in the first movie if I recall correctly), not freed by being found not guilty, and in fact, if you see some of the Freddy’s Nightmares series, it tells you what technicality, further clarifying that there is NO ROOM for doubt of his guilt. In fact, later in the franchise, it begins to bring up the fact that he is a child molester, later, with more conviction, most notably in Freddy vs Jason. In the movie Freddy’s Dead, while you never ever, that I recall, find out what he did for a living, you find out that he killed his wife in addition to several children around the neighborhood, and you find out that his daughter found out and she is the one who “told.” I for one, find it hard to believe that someone who had no slant toward evil or killing, or toward sexual deviant behavior for that matter, could be burned alive, and then, rather than go after the parents, suddenly start murdering.. the “morally ambiguous” children who had no idea what was going on? The parents? Okay, sure.. I get that, that’s worth an arguement. But the kids? Really? C’mon man. It’s obviously been way too long since you watched any of that series; Freddy was no gardener that anyone knows of, not in the original.

    Happily un-phallicized since ’83, or re-phallicized since watching Freddy, who knows. 😛

  3. 3 Devora Rubow
    October 27, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Oh, I forgot a few key points – my bad – point #1: your point about the “sins of the father” is rather glossed over. Purists hold that Freddy got his power from fear; which is rather the theme of the first movie, and others in the franchise. Freddy’s Dead takes a much more direct approach, showing Freddy as getting his power to make dreams real from the ancient dream demons. In fact, in the new movie, Freddy makes a reference to their memories as a basis for his power.. “Your memories are what fuels me.”

    Point #2: They actually did quite a bit of research that you so easy scoff at, in regards to sleep deprivation.. while zoneral seems to be a completely made up medication, the effects of sleep deprivation are not. I did a little bit of research myself, and it seems to hold up, I intend to do more, being the fan of the franchise that I am, but I saw the little infos and documentaries that they did on this film, and they did a lot of internet research, and called sleep clinics and all of that, basically to get it right. There are also plenty of medications that would assist in staying awake, and I am fairly certain that epinephrine would wake someone from a dead sleep, so.. bully for them, say I.

    Point #3: I am rather glad in some ways that this movie does not hold to all the conventions of the “standard” horror movie, and as somebody apparently concerned with gender roles, it seems rather hypocritical and backwards of you to be happy that she runs up the stairs, but pissed off that her boyfriend remains alive.. I wrote this post to you because you seem like a smart guy, if you seemed stupid, believe me, I would not have bothered. But some of what you said really bothered me. I don’t consider myself a feminist. When I saw this movie, I didn’t know what to make of it, for a multitude of reasons, namely because I am a HUGE Freddy fan and it was so very different. When I bought it, and brought it home and watched it, I realized.. there is NO nudity.. not a bit. That.. is.. fully awesome. I mean, I really don’t care what people do with their bodies, men or women, but, why do women have to be naked in a horror movie just because it’s a horror movie? I’ll be honest with you, I have a lot of different opinions about this film, even now, but I can’t just lump into one category and be done with it, and honestly, I’m surprised that you can. Or.. I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Tsk tsk.

    • October 29, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      I guess my thought process just wasn’t clear enough in my hastily written review. I just simply did not think the remake was worth seeing. I didn’t like it either. We can leave it at that, or continue. I appreciate the comments, so I feel like I should put some effort into responding…

      Whether or not Krueger actually was a child molester was not my point. My point is that, whether from a legal or more generally ethical standpoint, Krueger was not condemned in a so-called civilized manner. He was given a literal trial-by-fire by a mob of emotionally biased parents. Maybe killing him in this manner was the proper thing to do. I don’t care to debate that. The point is that they “took the law into their own hands” and went beyond societal norms. For this, they are punished by having their children punished. It is, forgive the generality again, a very Biblical response. The undead Freddy is the incarnation of their collective “mistake”. And the reason I brought it up is that this “moral ambiguity” is one of the things that makes the original film comparatively more complex than other ’80s horror franchises.
      By giving actual evidence after-the-fact, in the form of the pictures Nancy finds in the remake, and shoving this ambiguity aside, the film seems to justify the parents response in killing him (and by extension giving Nancy no reason whatsoever to challenge his re-existence). By simply making it about ‘staying awake’ and then have the two remaining characters stumble into getting rid of him, the remake becomes completely devoid of any moral complexity. By definitively saying “Freddy is/was evil”, there is no power left in his evil. Maybe that doesn’t make complete sense, but it does to me.

      A couple of other points:
      I haven’t seen some of the films for awhile, but I do remember his working as a groundskeeper for the school (I’m almost sure it is in the Freddy’s Dead flashbacks). That is why he had an excuse to be around the children in the first place. His glove is allegedly fashioned from the blades of garden shears that would have been found in the boiler/maintenance room (knowing Craven’s penchant for ripping off other stories, this probably comes in part from Der Struwwelpter; the German folktale about a man who ran around and cut of the thumbs of children who didn’t stop sucking them after their parents told them not to).

      I saw the remake in the theater, so I wasn’t privy to all the ‘research’ that was done. My point here is that by showing off all of this dream terminology and such, it is apparent that one of the many writers on this remake did try to ‘do his homework’ but that makes the film all the more disappointing in its clear lack of regard for what holds the original film together (as I’ve rambled about above).

      I take your point about the nudity, but the Nancy character would never be nude, just like, say, the Laurie Strode character in Halloween. She is the “final girl” because she is more ‘pure’ / smart / crafty / etc. than the other characters.
      And I am not “happy” that Nancy runs upstairs. I merely use this, again, to show the confused nature of the film. It holds onto many of the traditional tropes, but fails to adhere to some seemingly major ones. One could argue that its breaking out of these traditional roles would be somehow revising the story for the better, but that is clearly not the case. Nancy is not a better character in the remake, with or without her male sidekick. I did not understand the point of his still being around at the end. Why couldn’t Nancy defeat Freddy by herself in the remake, when she could do it in the original?
      While I would agree that it can be unfair to compare films made in completely different circumstances, when a remake comes along to offer no discernible improvement over the original, I fail to see why it would even be possible to consider it anything better than bad.
      I can find redeeming qualities in just about any film, but I choose to dislike this one as a whole.

  4. 5 drew williams
    November 24, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    just seems to me that you guys have lost what it truly means to go see a film and lose urself in it and not try to “read into” films as much as you do.So what if they changed some points, thats what a re-imaginitive is.Quit criticizing movies based on bias opinions and huge superior complex.Thanks for letting me voice my opinion!!.. Drew

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