31 Days of Horror: Film #23 A NIGHTMATE ON ELM STREET (2010)
Yesterday I watched and reviewed a good horror remake. Today, not so lucky.
Not long after directing Pearl Harbor, Michael Bay started producing films on the side. Films like the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seem like the typical Bay product, but TMNT is outnumbered by a number of horror films Bay produced. This is interesting because Bay never really showed an interest in horror for the films he directed. The majority of the horror films Bay produced were remakes, which should give us all yet another reason to dislike the guy. Let’s see… The Amityville Horror remake, The Hitcher remake, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (that one is actually pretty effective, easily the best of the bunch), The Friday the 13th remake, and the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. Just so I’m being fair, Bay also produced some original horror films – The Unborn, Ouija, and The Purge series. Of those, the only one I like is The Purge: Anarchy.
But anyway. Let’s talk about Freddy Krueger.
On the day that Wes Craven died, I rewatched the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. It seemed like the thing to do. The film remains a classic. The Nightmare series is entertaining but there’s a whole lot of crap to be found in the sequels. I maintain that the only Nightmare films that are truly any good are the ones that Craven had a hand in – the original, the 3rd film Dream Warriors, and the mega-meta New Nightmare. One thing that I disliked about the majority of the sequels is that they’d turned Freddy Krueger into something funny, bringing dark comedy into the slasher mix. That creative decision rubs me the wrong way, especially when considering what Freddy is: the dark spirit of a child murderer with other unsavory interests.
2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street remake returns the slasher icon to his darker, more menacing roots. Jackie Earle Haley takes over for series star Robert Englund and mostly manages to make the role his own. Some fans didn’t like Haley’s take on the character. To me, Haley’s just about the only thing in the film that makes it worth watching. While the film never succeeds in making Freddy frightening, he is intimidating and instantly unlikable. He’s a monster, something the original series forgot along the way.
The movie itself is a dull affair. There are few types of films more boring than a slasher movie that’s just going through the motions. Everything here feels recycled and stale, and that’s not just because it’s a remake, either. Directed by music video man Samuel Bayer, the film might look okay, but the scenes move without any sense of tension or dread. I’ll give it points for a decent final 15 minutes when it stops flirting with scares and gets down to the nitty-gritty, but it’s just too little too late.
Also, I didn’t believe for a second that any of these high school characters were teenagers. I mean, I get it, that’s something that goes with the territory of “dead teenager movies,” as Ebert called them. But some of these actors look like they should be getting out of college soon. Among the cast is Rooney Mara, who would soon go onto better things like Her and The Social Network, but she’s very bad as this film’s female lead. I think that Nightmare on Elm Street was her first big starring role. She would be nominated for an Oscar a year later for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So, I guess she figured stuff out pretty fast.
This is not the worst film in the Nightmare on Elm Street series but it offers so little to justify its existence. Watch the original again, then watch New Nightmare, and leave this one on the shelf.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of books and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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