A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Come back to my place for some Natty Lite  and Gamecube!

Platinum Dunes, oh, how you walked straight into this one, Charge of the Light Brigade-style! It takes some stones to remake a film that many in the horror community see as one of the all-time classics. Then again, perhaps Platinum Dunes was just playing out the numbers, if A Nightmare on Elm Street made bank from the teen audience back in the day, perhaps it’s time to introduce Freddy to a new generation, repeating the success of twenty years ago. Note: Yes, I know that the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was rated R, so a teenage audience shouldn’t have been in the cards. Puleeeze! As if teens couldn’t get into R rated movies! We did it all the time back I the say and the studios knew it. The MPAA rating scam is a giant exercise in “Cover Yer Ass.”

And now, a disclaimer: I have only seen the original A Nightmare on Elm Street once. I saw it at my friend Kim’s house shortly after its home video release in 1985. I didn’t see it at the theater because it looked like just another stupid horror film where teenagers get hacked up. I watched it with Kim and Lisa for two reasons: I had an enormous crush on Kim, so I was prepared to sit though any movie she picked and they also had a knack for finding interesting movies, after all, they introduced to me to The Evil Dead.

Anyway, Kim swore that A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) was the freakiest movie she’d ever seen. She popped it into the VCR and we planted ourselves on the couch. My verdict? It was okay. It was good enough that I caught the first two sequels during their theatrical run before giving up on the series entirely. I didn’t like A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) enough to see it again.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984, 2010) features a story about the vengeful ghost of a child killer returning from the grave to kill the children of the parental posse that burned him to death years before. The idea that Freddy was a child killer didn’t really hit home with me at the time. The “children” he was killing were “teens” that to the sixteen-year-old Captain Midnight looked old enough to buy beer. The film’s audience, mostly made up of teens, is supposed to identify with the “teen” hero and victims. I didn’t. Not only were the “teens” too old, they were Beverly Hills 90210 teens – nothing like real people at all. I didn’t identify with characters in the movie, so when they got off’d by Freddy, I could have cared less.

The sequels? Freddy turned from a boogeyman into a homicidal version of Jackie Mason with a skin condition. Freddy’s corny one liners did nothing for me. When it was revealed that he was “The bastard son off a hundred maniacs” I actually burst out laughing. He wasn’t scary. With each passing movie it seemed like he was inching closer and closer to getting his own network animated Christmas special or a maybe even a breakfast cereal of his own. “Try A Breakfast on Elm Street! It’s the crunchy peanut butter flavored cereal shaped like Freddy’s claws! One, two, Freddy’s delicious for you. Three, four, peanut butter fla-vored. Five, six, get your breakfast fix. Seven, eight, tastes really great.”

So, given my benign indifference to the original, I wasn’t all that bent out of shape over the remake. I harbored no bias against it. I wasn’t thrilled about it either. After its release, people (critics, fake Eberts and fanboys) immediately started panning it unmercifully. The chief complaint was that A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) wasn’t like the original, further, that Freddy was changed into something evil and joyless. These complaints piqued my interest. There was also whinging about the remake casting doubt on Freddy’s guilt: OMG! What if Freddy wasn’t a child murder, but was falsely accused, and himself murder by a rampaging mob? I liked idea, it was a bold side trip. In addition, Freddy, in the remake is shown to have tortured and molested small children, making him a truly reprehensible villain. Freddy fans apparently didn’t like that.

Conversely, as the complaints mounted, my interest grew. Finally! We get a Freddy that is truly evil and not watered down or a total cartoon character. Good for Platinum Dunes, I say! So, instead of passing on it, I decided to have a look at A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).

This is going to come off as total sacrilege to genre fans who view the 1980s as horror’s golden age (I prefer the 1930s – by far) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as horror classic in particular. But A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) is a step up from the original in some respects.

First off, the new Freddy makeup is great. He actually looks like a burn victim. I heard a lot of people complain about the new makeup for a variety of reasons; they thought it looked drippy or lacked expressiveness. Fair enough, but I though it was an improvement.

Jack Earle Haley is suitably evil as Freddy returned from the grave, but where he really nails it is as pre-mortem Freddy Kreuger, the kindly gardener with a disgusting secret. A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) makes Freddy a real monster. The suggestion that Freddy might have been an innocent victim was as interesting direction for the movie to take, a direction that made the final reveal more jarring in my opinion.

What A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) fails to do is recapture the disorienting freakiness of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). It comes close at various points, but never really generates the weird nightmarish feel of the original. My final answer? It’s not as bad as some people have said but it’s not all that great either. I enjoyed it about as much as the original.

Note: I still don’t identify with the fake teens in horror movies. I find them annoying, so annoying that I don’t even want to sit through the movie to watch them get hacked to bits.

Jackie Earle Haley
Kyle Gallner
Rooney Mara
Katie Cassidy
Thomas Dekker

Samuel Bayer

Wesley Strick

Two of five Vincents

One Response to “A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)”

  • Trever T:

    I’m with you. I never understood the popularity of the original movie. Em and I rewatched it in France for the first time in 20+ years and mostly I was just amused by how 1983 all the styles and hair were. If asked, I would say that it was an amusing, imaginative slasher film that was a bit better than average, but not in any way a classic. I really don’t understand the level of fan fondness for it.

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