Thursday, September 09, 2010

A Nightmare On Elm Street [Remake]

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Directed by: Samuel Bayer
Horror, 2010
USA, 95 min

So what the heck where they gonna come up with the burst the bubble with this one? I’d read online reviews claiming that it was a more or less scene for scene remake. This was obviously bollocks, as it’s not a scene for scene remake, but a rather shallow thingy that simply walks in the shadow of that awesome 1984 original. I had high hopes for A Nightmare on Elm Street as I’ve actually enjoyed quite a few of the recent remakes – Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 was brilliant, it looked just as gritty and dark as it should have. Despite Michael Bay answering original cinematographer Daniel Pearl, back for a second shot at TCM almost fourty years later “Just make them fuckable!” when he questioned “How do you want me to shoot this movie?”, TCM still made an impression, so did Nispel and Pearl’s collaboration on Friday the 13th 2009, with it’s furious twenty minute opening rampage. Zack Snyder’s reworking of Dawn of the Dead 2008 was a great date flick as my wife squeezed bruises on my arm during that one. Breck Eisner’s The Crazies 2010 is also a neat remake, taking it to a darker ground than Romero’s original. Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eye’s 2006 picks up wonderfully when they get into that fucked up post atomic testing village, even if the main monster is a rip off of Chris Cunningham’s Rubber Johnny 2005.

Great original movies that spawned great remakes decades later, which is perhaps why the lesser entries into the original batch ended up being such shitty remakes… Bloody Valentine 3D, Prom Night, Boogeyman, blah, blah, blah… you know what I mean.

Anyway I was really hoping that A Nightmare on Elm Street would scare the damned pants off me once again, as this is one of my most favoured movies of my youth. I saw it as a teenager during a visit to my uncle in the UK. Yeah there has been some great movie moments in my family as we all had a tendency for watching horror and listening to cool music on family gatherings. Go figure. So my parents, my kid brother, my two uncles and their wives where all sat in that living room awaiting to see what is said to be the best scary movie of ages. The tape goes in and the shit kicks in. Playing the part of obnoxious nephew I made a point out of shocking my younger uncles wife on any given occasion. Obviously my scaring her ended up being the movie scaring me as it’s innovative storyline of a dream stalker killing off the kids on Elm Street took over. After the movie my aunt turned to me and said something along the lines of Right you little bastard, I wont tell you when, but sometime during tonight I’m going to come back down here and scare the shit out of you when you least expect it!” Haw haw haw yeah as if you could… but the longer the night went the more wound up I got as every sound heard could have been aunt on her way down to fulfil on her promise. Or Freddy Krueger – sleep deprivation plays sinister tricks on a tired teenage mind. Needless to say I was completely freaked out and scared shitless by the time day broke.

So the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street had a lot of anticipation ahead of it when I two decades later sliped the DVD into the machine… to be modest, it’s somewhat of a let down! I can’t really understand how you can go wrong with a classic movie like this. A classic movie with the shittiest ending of them all, something that really needed redoing right, and they didn’t even tidy that up did they!

As mentioned, it’s not a scene for scene remake, it does live it’s own life, but for some reason the filmmakers have decided to tip their hat’s at certain iconic moments of the original on more than one occasion which ends up being irritating more than fun references. The death of Tina, Tina in a body bag, the magnificent glove in the bathtub moment, Krueger coming out of the wall and the shitty shock ending. I have no time for repetitious in jokes when they bring fuck all to the narrative. But it’d make for a great drinking game if you were up for it.

The core of the story is never the less the same - parents torch peddobear, crispy peddobear comes back and kills their kids in their dreams. I feel that they missed a great opportunity to bring something new with them to the game if they only had followed up the indication that the parents killed Krueger without any hard evidence. It would have been a grimmer movie, because then it would have been about Freddy taking revenge for being murdered without actually being guilty. They don’t, and Freddy is still just a kiddie-molesting bastard. Unfortunately the remake holds nothing on the original, as the magic of the original lies in the fact that it takes a while to realise that Krueger only can get to them when they sleep and there’s an element of good confusion trying to figure out when they are dreaming and not. As usual the remake has to waste time explaining shit that we don’t need to know and even goes as far as telling the audience how sleep deprivation works which really shits on the question and effect of not knowing dream from reality, because from there on it’s just after cheap shock value as Kruger from then on pops up when ever the fuck he wants. It’s also kinda insulting when loud heartbeats rumble on the soundtrack flagging each Kruger attack and the CGI background shatters into his rusty boiler room set. (No Fred, I'm not bitching about CGI, just how they used it!:) )

Oh yeah and five second analysis: I say let’s blame Freud for this one, as the attacks started after one kid, Dean started in therapy and to quote him “some shit from my childhood started coming up!” That’ll teach you to stay out of therapy kids. Better to be fucked up than dead!

With the amount of brilliant and sharp music videos Samuel Beyer has directed, I’d have had expected a step up in the narrative department as he certainly knows how to create some great images, but you can’t do horror with images alone, you need some sort of shit in there to activate the audience or its all just surface and no content. If you can tell a story in four minutes, then why the hell can’t you tell one in ninety minutes while you have the time to explore your characters and stuff. Go figure! Most likely because the movie was rushed and it feels that way too.

Characters are shallower than a saucer of milk. I don’t give a toss about any of them what so ever. Not even Nancy manages to evoke any sympathy this time around. There’s no time what so ever spent on presenting these characters to us, they just roam around as drones and don’t have a chance in hell to stay ahead of Krueger, and I can't wait for the killings to begin. Which in consideration aren't to inventive either. Kyle Gallner's EMO boy with sad eyes and smudged eyeliner isn’t enough to engage me and the kids never really interact with each other either, so there’s no real bond between them. Mara Rooney’s Nancy isn’t much cop either. I never feel the same commitment to her as I did Heather Langenkamp’s incarnation, and her drawing skills stay don’t change much between her childhood doodles and the ones she draws as an adult which kind of sucks. There’s certainly no Johnny Depp’s in the bunch of actors, although Rooney’s career will probably take off after she’s done with David Fincher’s reamericaniamake of Stieg Larsons Millienum trilogy. At times she actually does look like Noomi Rapace, so I’m sure she’ll pull that of with no problems at all.

Another disappointment with the A Nightmare On Elm Street remake is that there’s none of the witty dialogue that made the original such a blast either, and I'm not talking about Kruger's jokes, but the stuff that brought life to the characters. Remember Johnny Depp's famous last words?

GLEN swings his legs over the edge of the bed and shakes his head to clear the cobwebs.


Wasn't listening to the tube,

just watching. Miss Nude

America's supposed to be on



Well how you gonna hear what

she says?


Who cares what she says?

The mother gives up.

To be fair, it’s not all bad. If I was a rookie to the horror genre and hadn’t seen the original flicks, or even just missed the first few and only seen stuff like Rachel Talalay’s Freddy’s Dead 1991 or Ronny Yu’s Freddy vs. Jason 2003, I would probably have been impressed a lot more. On the plus side the movie does look great – it is dark, murky and brooding, there are a few effective shock moments, even if you can see them coming a mile away, and there is at least some sentimental value to those nods at the original the first couple of times. Jackie Earl Healey does take Kruger back to the sinister character that he was in the initial movie, and it’s a relief that the gags and wise cracks are more or less gone. But anyone working with prosthetics and special effects should know that your nose is the first piece of soft flesh to go when your face is on fire I'd have lost the ears and nose if it was my job to pimp my monster - nothing says scary as a gaping hole in a blokes face! So Kruger is simply a creepy guy with a melty face who once again gets the job done, but I still say the story could have been improved with a “wrongfully murdered” theme instead of the same old freaky Freddy back for more guts. Empathetic monsters fuck your mind much more than someone who rightfully got punished even if it was by vigilante force, so that’s a major error in my book.

Oh look! My original movie seems to have been signed by Robert Englund and original cinematographer Jacques Haitkin!

Nevertheless, I’m forty and not the primary audience for horror flicks anymore, and the movie obviously did work as it was one of the highest grossing horror remakes these last years taking in almost 34million dollars at the opening weekend box office and a sequel has already been announced.


R.Sterling Carody said...

Great review. You pretty much hit all the reasons that I skipped this one. And I agree that there are some good remakes.

I still though stick to the fact that Freddy was Freddy because of Robert England. Anyone can play Jason or Leatherface, only England can play Freddy cause he made the character what it was.

CiNEZiLLA said...


And I totally agree with you, that's undoubtedly all Englund, just as nobody could ever replace Bradley as Pinhead. They bring so much more to the character than tilting the head and looking though the mask.

Although I do feel that Bill Johnson made the best Leatherface. He just like Hansen had that gut that made them look so much more depraved and well fed.


Anonymous said...

Marcus Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre was everything BUT okay. /SNy

CiNEZiLLA said...

Well I liked it. I loved the raw grittiness that it brought with it, and that they never bothered to get into backstory and shit like that.

R.Sterling Carody said...

I as well like the TCM remake. It stayed away from most of the Hollywood trappings of right now.

Im not sure which Leatherface Bill Johnson was, but part 2, and the Leatherface from that one, is hands down my favorite.

forestofthedead said...

Really enjoyed your thoughts on this film.
I'd say it's good, I wouldn't say it's great.

CiNEZiLLA said...

It just didn't work for me perhaps because the original really got to me when I first saw it and this one never really did.


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