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Horror Remake Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

nightmare on elm street 2010 movie poster

Written by Josh Brewer, May 19, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


Title: A Nightmare on Elm Street – 2010 Remake

Director: Samuel Bayer
Writer: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer
Release Date: April 30th, 2010
Cast: Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Jackie Earle Haley

Cliff’s Notes

A non-Englund Freddy torments the dreams of the teens of Elm Street. I’ve seen this before. This ain’t better.

Lecture

The remake craze hit hard in the 2000’s, with nary an 80’s flick left unscathed. While some of these puppies, the Ring or Evil Dead, turned out alright, more than one felt like a desperate cash in or lackluster sequel. Alas, A Nightmare on Elm Street didn’t manage to avoid the remake treatment.

There are a few things I rind pleasantly surprising about the ANOES remake. Some of the cast do nice work and Haley’s turn as Freddy hearkens back to the original Elm Street. He manages to create his own take on the iconic role without relying on Englund or disgracing the part. A few of the teens are solid as well, which really helps what is a terrible first act. The big highlight is the final act, which finally brings in some tension and allows the creative elements of the series to make an appearance. If the entire flick were as solid as the last clock, we’d be set.

But it isn’t; hell, it ain’t even close. This puppy lacks any tension for the first half. It doesn’t help that the script is a paint by numbers rehash of the first film. Sure, a few of the roles get expanded, nightmare on elm street 2010that that’s small potatoes compared to the endless, boring jump scares and lackluster approach to the horror involved. There’s no appreciation for storytelling, just a made-modern rehash of a flick that was inspirational two decades before. The entire thing feels like everyone us busy going through the motions except for the cast, who are left to carry the film.

Most notably missing is the dream logic that has defined the series. Part of the joy of the earlier parts of the series, take Part 3 for a great example, was how the dream world seamlessly meshed with the real world. You were never sure when characters were dreaming, so Freddy’s power extended not only into the dreams, but also the real world. The characters worried about falling asleep while the audience worried that they already had. Here, the dreams are so stereotypical in their slasher movie set up that the surprises count at almost nil. Sad, ’cause that’s how the ANOES remake could have rocked.

Acting

Off the top, Haley doesn’t even try to replace Englund. He does his own thing, adding a kind of sexual menace to his proceedings. His physical work rocks, though I wish the film built up to his reveal or gave him a touch of mystery. The teens are a little uneven. Dekker and Lutz are around long enough to die while Mara gets better as the flick goes. She’s more than annoying at the top, but I warmed up to her as the run time ticked along. Cassidy does well with her role and I kinda wonder why the casting between her and Mara wasn’t switched. Mara’s a fantastic actor, but she’s lost for the first hour of this puppy. Gallner is, by far, the best of the teens. He gives a solid, realistic portrayal and the fact that the flick keeps him around makes everything work better.

nightmare on elm street 2010Directing

Bayer’s first full length outing reeks of uneven. He manages a solid climax and does a few interesting things with his cast, but can’t make the first hour interesting. The lack of scares really hurts the top of the flick. Sure, this puppy looks pretty, but the lack of energy and simplistic approach to the source material leaves plenty to be desired. The ANOES remake should have been an opportunity to go off creatively, not just construct a bunch of jump scares and poor stalk sequences. Come on!

Script

Talk about weak sauce! The ANOES remake boasts a script that looks shambled together at best. The plot is lifted whole sale from the superior original and the only new parts fall into the third act. The characters here lack any kind of definition, only Krueger finds any kind of development; the teens have notion to define them beyond a few simple, generic traits. The worst part, however, falls to the lack of opportunity that the script desperately tries to hold onto.  Anything can happen in dreams, so why does the film insist on forcing chase/stalk scenes down our throat. Remember when you couldn’t tell what was going to happen next in a ANOES flick? Yeah… long gone. At least the finale steps it up a bit.

Effectsnightmare on elm street 2010

The flick looks sharp and most of the feel of the film works. We get a fair amount of blood and Freddy looks alright, though the CGI doesn’t always click. And the kills, while occasionally brutal, seem toned down compared to the rest of the series. I was longing for some of Part 3‘s goodies.

Highlights

I really dug the last act. Mara finally starts to work and the dream set up makes an appearance. Too back the rest of the flick can’t hold up.

Lowlights

It’s a remake. Isn’t that enough? Fine, No Englund or Craven.

Final Thoughts  

Not a complete mess, the ANOES Remake manages a solid third act, a solid score, and a few nice acting moments for its cast. Alas, the whole thing falls apart due to a lackluster script and complete lack of what makes the series work. Watch the first 40 on fast forward or just check the original.

Grade: C-

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