42nd Street Cinema

A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

So, I'm back from London. I couldn't stick around for the second film due to catching trains and whatnot, which is incredibly unfortunate as they announced that the second film to screen would be the original Wes Craven classic from 1984, straight after the 2010 travesty with a 15 minute interval in-between. That's right folks, I didn't dig it, so for the most part this is probably going to be a complete lambast-fest, apart from the things I did enjoy though they are few and far between.

Set in the present day, the teens of Elm Street are being stalked in their dreams by a mysterious character. After one teen is killed the others quickly learn that they all share a common link stemming back to their childhood. Fred Krueger. A man who worked at their preschool and subsequently abused all of them. When the children tell their parents about Krueger and what he had done, they then begin a hunt for Krueger, chasing him down and burning him alive. Now as a supernatural entity, Freddy begins reaping his revenge - killing off those who alerted their parents about his crimes.

Directed by Samuel Bayer, who to his credit has made a good debut with this. Previously he has directed a lot of music videos for popular artists. However, this ain't MTV, this is horror cinema.

Jackie Earle Haley assumes the role of Freddy Krueger, a bold move for any actor other than Robert Englund and congratulations to him, I think he did a great job. Admittedly, I like the look of this incarnation of Krueger, his face appears more melted and deformed by fire as opposed to the original makeup which looked as if only the first few layers of skin was missing. That said, whenever Freddy speaks a line in this version I was forever reminded of Rorschach from Watchmen. For this re-imagining they transformed the Freddy character from his original 'child murderer-come wise cracking antihero' back-story into a physically and sexually child abusing repugnant villain. Knowing people who have been victims of child abuse I have a feeling that they would be turned off by this new direction for the character, especially with some of the jokes, as at times they feel wholly tasteless and unnecessary.

About half way through the film there was an interesting plot device introduced regarding 'What if Freddy was an innocent man?' luring the viewer into a great feeling of sympathy for him, since they cut in flashback sequences of him playing (don't think dirty thoughts) with the children at school. Again an interesting twist and something which I quite liked, only it wasn't explored for very long. On a little side note, I really wanted John Saxon to be in this, but unfortunately he was not.
Rooney Mara takes on the role of Nancy Holbrook. A character based on Nancy Thompson, originally portrayed by Heather Langenkamp, another name that is synonymous with the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. As for the other characters they felt to be very wooden and lacking any real 'character'.

A lot of the script conveyed itself to me as being rushed, characters would make a great leap from seeing a friend killing himself (actually being killed by Freddy in his sleep) at the start of the film to realizing that if they fall asleep they WILL die. Also the way in which Nancy discovers she could possibly pull Freddy from her dream if she was woken up while holding onto him felt very rushed. The death of Johnny Depp's character was essentially missing, instead opting to have the character of Nancy falling into a thick pool of blood on the floor, before being completely submerged and crashing through it onto a bed.

It would appear that most of these remakes (as well as other new horror flicks) they're a lot louder than their original counterparts and it also seems that these days it requires a loud bang and 'something' jumping out from a corner to get scares. What happened to the menace and tense atmosphere in horror films? I remember watching the 1922 Nosferatu for the first time and being somewhat disturbed by Max Schreck's ghoulish visage and on-screen demeanor.

Onto the next thorn in my side and that would be the overly used CGI. While I'm not against the use of CGI, I wish they would at least use good CGI effects such as those seen in Cloverfield (2008). A scene in particular I'd like to peck away at is the one in which Freddy comes forward through the wall above Nancy's bed. In the original, it looks fantastic and creepy as hell - in the remake however it is done using incredibly bad CG and to be brutally honest, it made me cringe.

A trend of sorts is spreading like Ebola with mainstream horror films and that seems to be a complete lack of substance but at least it looks good. Instances of this is drivel like The Unborn (2009) and Mirrors (2008).
I don't want to put you off with this review as I believe that people should make up their own minds about a film but if you're a huge fan of the original series you're going to find it very hard not to be biased when watching this. So if you don't catch it in cinemas, rent it or watch it online at least because it is worth a watch.

2 Stars


The60ftOctopus said...

"forever reminded of Rorschach from Watchmen" - Glad I wasn't alone on this. I have to say, I quite liked how Freddy seemed more 'sick' with some of the lines he delivered, but the fact they always came across too jokey really threw me off.

The whole ambiance of this film was missing. Like the bit with Freddy coming through the wall, as you mentioned: http://streetratmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/a-nightmare-on-elm-street-comparison-04.jpg
Screw the CGI, the original (if dated) just looks so much more nightmarish - which is something I think the new one forgot at times. The transitions were good, but it just that something missing.

James said...

yeah absolutely. the CGI looks horrible in that scene. i personally don't think the first one is all that dated, no doubt younger audiences would probably think so

Frank Pina said...

What bothers me about this remake is the fact that they have probably 3x the budget the original had, considering it was an independent feature, but all that was used for is seemingly polished visuals. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I can't help but be disappointed by the younger audiences who believe this film is better than the original. In fact that speaks volumes about, at least for mainstream horror fare, the lack of suspense and chills that audiences are used to now. You are right, apparently a film is not scary unless it has the sound effects of loudly banging pots and pans, along with apparitions in a mirror.

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