Friday, April 30, 2010

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

You'd think Platinum Dunes would eventually get it right. The studio has remade multiple horror films in the past few years and, like a room full of monkeys banging away at a typewriter, something worth of the Bard should come out of that someday.

Nightmare on Elm Street doesn't come close.

The film is soul destroying, a crass, lifeless remake that doesn't come close to the original, much less the franchise's worst sequel. It simply plods along, making you wonder if the film makers even know how to make a decent horror film.

The film's first mistake is making Kris (Katie Cassidy) the center of attention for the first part of the film. Maybe they thought renaming Tina (the original character) might throw the audience off, but it doesn't give Nancy (Rooney Mara) any screen time until half way through the movie. The delayed development of the "Final Girl" is a big mistake.

Nancy, in this film, is portrayed as a weak, mousy girl, someone you just can't see taking on Freddy. Yet, Tina dies, with her ex-boyfriend Jesse (Rod in the original) witnessing her death. On the run from the cops, he manages to convince Nancy that something in their shared dreams is trying to kill them, before being arrested and dying in his jail cell. Now Nancy, along with new romantic interest Quinten (Kyle Gallner) must uncover the truth about Freddy before they die in their sleep.

As I mentioned above, the problem with keeping Nancy and Quinten in the background for so long is that the audience doesn't get a chance to grow attached to them. The film brings them in as the protagonists too late for any real character development, and the few scenes towards the end of the film that try to make them feel like humans falls short. Yes, their flat performance could be rationalized as a result of sleep deprivation, but that would give the actors, and the screenplay, too much credit.

For all the frenzy generated by the casting of Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy, he's given remarkably little to do. Sure, he has a few creepy moments (like taunting a fresh victim with the fact that the brain keeps working seven minutes after death, giving them more time to "play"), and Freddy's pedophilic nature is more explicit than in the original films. But the script gives Haley little else to work with and his Freddy comes off like a fourth tier boogieman, much less frightening than, say, Jack Frost.

The film can't even spook the audience. The dream sequences are obvious from the start, ruined by changes in lighting, bombastic music cues and CGI ripple effects. The gore is minimal at best, so a basic shock scene is out of the question. All the audience is left with are simplistic jump scares, telegraphed to most horror fans and spoiled by the film's trailer. The film lacks any attempt at suspense, relying on simple "got 'cha" moments to make the audience jump.

And, as I mentioned in my review of The Crazies, it works for the right crowd. And a few members of the audience fell for them. But even the guys behind me, saying how each killing was "rad" and such, concluded that the movie was just "all right."

No, I wasn't eavesdropping, as their comments were audible to everyone in several seats surrounding them. As was the one who kicked the back of my chair with every jump scare. God, I hate the current cinema experience.

Getting back to the matter at hand, DO NOT spend your money on this mindless, soulless piece of drivel. Yes, I've said we should support R-rated horror films, if only to keep them in the theaters. But I'd rather see decent PG-13 horror movies than more of this dreck. Platinum Dunes has crossed the line far too often, and now we need to send them a message.


  1. I know I am on the opposite end of things, but I actually enjoyed this one. I gave it 3 stars. I thought it was skillfully made with some great imagery. With the exception of Nancy, I thought the cast was appealing and I felt for their situation and Jackie did a good job in a difficult role.

  2. Hey, Big Daddy. Thanks for reading and posting. And I'm glad you enjoyed the movie.

    As I said, others in the audience seemed to be having a great time. And, sitting in the darkness of the theater. I wished I was one of them. It's was the first time in many years that I've gone to a horror movie on opening night. I was hoping for a film I'd enjoy, but it just wasn't my day.

    Maybe I'll have better luck with Splice or Piranha 3D.

    Looking forward to reading your review later tonight!