A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) – Review
First let me get something off my chest. When reviewing a re-make, any critic worth his salt should at the very least re-watch the original before using runaway comparrisons to the source material. I don’t consider myself a critic by any means, but the first thing I did to prepare myself for this film, was re-watch the original (in all its Blu Ray glory) the night before.
Back in the 80s horror films were held to a different standard of appreciation. Freddy quickly rose to glory amongst his slasher bretheren (Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and arguably Leatherface). Over the last few years all of the classics have been remade or are on the block to be remade to varied results. So far for the most part, I feel the remakes have been pretty good, even if only serving as an update… with the exception of Halloween II (which I completely hated). A Nightmare on Elm Street is no different. It doesn’t exceed any hopes or expectations, but it wasn’t disappointing. It serves as an update to the franchise and nothing more. If you’re not diggin’ the re-makes, there’s nothing here that’s gonna change your narrow little mind.
For a director who specializes in music related video, Samuel Bayer does an admirable job with the material. Overall, the performances were on par with the original, with a mixed bag of average to good actors. Rooney Mara is a better Nancy in the remake than Heather Langenkamp’s overly pouty performance in the original. And although I had reservations about Jackie Earl Haley as Freddy, he actually delivered a more realistic and darker portrayal of the dream stalking serial killer. Watching the original though, Robert Englund’s performance was less what we remember due to the silly sequels generated by the franchise. Freddy was a dark character in the original, relying less on the cliche one-liners we oddly remember him for. So throw out the sequels of past, and the performances were pretty close… even with some of the clumsy dialogue.
As far as the look and feel of Freddy, I thought they did a good job. The red and green sweater, although there, was really hard to make out with the dark lighting… not really a bad thing though. I really liked the way Haley’s Freddy scissor-twitched the blades together while he stalked his victims, a little subtlety that added to the character. The makeup, although a lot more subtle and more realisitic than the original, looked better than I thought it would. Compared to the orignal, Freddy has about the same screen time, although we get a visual retelling of his past (Haley’s performance sans makeup is great), which I don’t believe we saw until the second Nightmare in the original series.
The story itself is a mixed bag of new ideas and rehashed scenes. The introduction of micro naps is kind of cool. Most of the memorable parts from Craven’s Nightmare are there, but it’s a toss up on which ones are done better. I actually liked the two bedroom kills in the original far more than the remake, but found the final confrontation better in this new entry. Also, I’m not sure I liked the way Freddy’s origin was handled. In the original, Freddy killed 20 children. In the re-make, he molested and abused a pre school class of children. The story they started to hint at (loosely comparing Freddy to The Pied Piper of Hamelin) was a great direction and very original to the franchise. This branch gave a better meaning to the characters and Freddy’s overall motivation… you actually almost sympathized with him. When this path started, I thought to myself Wow, I didn’t see this coming…. but alas twists and turns put us back in the lap of the original, and set us up for a sequel with the same stupid ending that I could never get past on Wes Craven’s original. This doesn’t make it bad… just predictable if you’ve seen the orignal… I was waiting for it.
Overall, this reboot to Freddy’s legacy could have used a tighter script with slightly better dialogue and in some cases better deliveries. The gore factor could have been easily increased two fold (use TCM as a template on how to up the ante). Fortunately, A Nightmare on Elm Street is full of jump scares, some creative visuals, and quite frankly it’s not a bad movie when compared to the original… far from perfect or even great… but it’s enjoyable!