Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Plot One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

Review If it ain't broke, don't fix it – right? Why then do Platinum Dunes keep churning out remakes of perfectly good horror movies like they're going out of fashion? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Hitcher (2007) and Friday the 13th (2009) are just three examples of such unnecessary remakes, and wait, we now have a fourth – A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is arguably one of the most imaginative and smart horror films of it's time, so you'd think it would be the perfect choice for any hungry horror producer/ director to get their teeth stuck into and try to push the boundaries further - unfortunately all we are left with is a weak Emo-tation of a brilliant story and cast, and a bitter taste in our mouths.

If you are unfamiliar with the story, I can only assume you are either too young to have seen the original or perhaps you have been living under a rock, so for those hermits out there here is a quick run down: The town of Springwood is being terrorized by a burned man in a stripy sweater, who stalks and kills teenagers in their dreams with his razor-fingered glove. This all sounds relatively run-of-the-mill thus far, but the twist is that when the kids die in the dreamworld, they die for real. It is a race against time for the children of Elm Street to unlock the secrets in theirs and Freddy's pasts in order to stop him for good.

It is obvious from the get-go that director Samuel Bayer's history lies in music videos, with an abundance of over-stylised and over-edited shots that jar with the tone and pace of the film. Unfortunately this is yet another case of a remake that is almost indistinguishable from others of the same ilk with the same lack of passion and dedication to the genre, a slap dash attitude to SFX (making every effect using CGI) and a cookie-cutter cast that are all annoyingly attractive but oh-so-depressed with their lot in life.

Nancy in the Elm Street rehash couldn't have been more miscast if she tried. A dull, two-dimensional characterisation of our 'heroine' makes for very slow viewing. If she is our reason for watching, then prepare for a lot of walkouts. None of the central group of characters are anything to write home about – all are Emo replicas of each other, which makes characterising Nancy as a social misfit a bit of a conundrum. For some reason, bringing the classic Elm Street story to the 21st Century means making all of the kids deeply depressed, self-involved and immune to the joys of teenage life, which leaves you thinking “end these miserable bastards already”.

Onto the new Freddy, who is intentionally darker and more sinister – a contrast to the camp-looking, nightmarish clown of the original. Jackie Earle Haley seemed a shoe-in for the role, since his Oscar nomination for playing a child molester in Little Children, and having similarly creepy, distinguished features to Robert Englund. In Haley's defence, he does a pretty good job considering what he’s been given and he certainly has some big boots to fill, playing a character that was brought to life time and again by the same actor (Robert Englund) for 8 films over 19 years. Unfortunately, the script and direction really let him down, proving a complete disservice to the talent he has to offer the role.

Now for the nitty gritty - Freddy's makeup proved to be incredibly distracting; A mishmash of prosthetics and CGI (no surprises there), he resembles a burns victim rather than a demonic child molester who has come back from the dead. The voice isn't quite right either (sounded more like Batman at times) – the camp one-liners we all know and love him for are instead replaced with less witty retorts and forced laughter.

Cosmetics aside, the real sticking point about the new Freddy has to be that there is no sense of being able to outwit him or talk your way out of a grizzly end (only Nancy gets away, with incredible ease, despite her lack of demonstrable initiative or understanding) – this is something that was present in almost all other films within the franchise.

The few aspects of this film that do work are the visual effects – including the recreation of the scene with the blood geyser on the ceiling and the Freddy head stretching through the wallpaper in Nancy's room, but all of these are CGI effects that are slightly overdone, and were better achieved with real effects in the original.

Two audience members at the screening I went to summed it up perfectly when they said that they were struggling to stay awake and “if there's one film you shouldn't fall asleep to, it's a Freddy film”.

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