Review 31: A Nightmare on Elm Street (remake) (1/5)

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Directed by Samuel Bayer

Starring Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Jackie Earle Haley

Released on April 27, 2010

Running time: 1h 34m

Rated R

Genre: Horror

Do I still have to review this? It was disappointing enough watching this. I don’t want to have to go through it again simply to write this dang review.

Yes. Platinum Dunes. Again. In 2010, after the “overwhelming success” of the remake of Friday the 13th, Michael Bay decided to crap all over another well-known horror franchise by remaking Nightmare on Elm Street.

Let’s just get this over with.

We open with the same company who released the original: New Line Cinema. Whoever wrote the soundtrack for this flick opens with a modernized version of the original’s theme. This modernized version shows its face very rarely throughout the film. And then I lost all hope when I saw the Platinum Dunes logo.

On a dark, rainy night in a dimly lit restaurant, Dean (Kellan Lutz – you know, from Twilight and The Legend of Hercules.), falls asleep at his table and dreams of Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley – Rorschach in Watchmen). Come on, Bay. Don’t act like you can scare us with a slow reveal of Freddy. Everyone seeing this is a fan of the original NoES, so…yeah. Anyway, Dean’s girlfriend Kris (Katie Cassidy) meets him at the restaurant. Dean has cut himself, though he insists that it was Freddy. We are then introduced to Quentin (Kyle Gallner – Matt from The Haunting in Connecticut), and his obvious love interest for the movie, Nancy (instead of Heather Langenkamp, we have Rooney Mara – Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Strangely enough, Nancy’s last name in this movie is not Thompson, but Holbrook. Yeah. Imagine if Freddy Krueger was renamed Vincente Marconi. You’d be pretty pissed, wouldn’t you? Anyway, Dean nods off again, giving time for Freddy to slice his throat open. In the real world, it looks like Dean plunges a knife into his neck and rips it open with it.

Now that we’ve seen Freddy’s face, I can easily say that it looks much worse than the original. Robert Englund’s surprisingly realistic and actually kind of creepy makeup in the original was completely practically done. However Jackie Earle Haley’s makeup is CGI, and it looks dreadful. Michael Bay also thinks he can scare us by giving Freddy a new habit: rubbing two of his claws together, making scraping and snick-snack sounds. Is it actually scary? No. Not at all. In fact, it just sounds tacky. It as tacky as the clicking sound my grandfather makes when he snaps two of his fingernails together. He used to “torture” my aunt with that sound. Bay also tries to scare us by filtering Jackie Earle Haley’s voice and making it drop to an ominous level. It’s not scary in the slightest. In fact, the way Haley speaks already makes Freddy sound like he’s mentally challenged. Oh, and do you remember the sound that Freddy’s claws made whenever he scraped them over a pipe? They don’t make the recognizable screeching sound anymore.

We then transition to Dean’s funeral. I’m amazed that they allowed a Christian funeral in this flick. Bay starts to actually try to pull off the same Janet Leigh red herring with Kris that Wes Craven unsuccessfully pulled off in the original with Tina. At the funeral, Kris dreams of a little blonde girl with four slashes in her dress standing by Dean’s grave before being pulled in by Freddy. Is it a flashback? Is it a g-g-g-g-ghost? Anyways, she wakes up, the funeral finishes, and she talks to Nancy and Quentin before they are interrupted by – hi, Clancy Brown! How’d they get you in this? (Clancy Brown’s once-promising career has been ruined by this and Green Lantern, and will continue to be destroyed by Nothing Left to Fear.) Clancy Brown is Quentin’s overbearing, pointless father. Kris continues talking to Nancy, who reveals that she has been dreaming about terrible things. Uh, Nancy? Would you like to describe what you’ve seen?

We transition from Kris to Nancy, who, unlike Heather Langenkamp’s “good girl”, is a quiet, almost emo girl who spends most of her time creating surreal, graphically violent drawings. Sure, these drawings look cool, but they do not make Nancy an interesting character. Nancy dozes off, leading to an incredibly fake CGI ripoff of the “spandex wall” scene from the original.

Kris starts dreaming about Freddy and begins to fear that she will die in her dreams. One night, when her mother is out, Jesse (Thomas Dekker), her ex, shows up to keep her company while she sleeps. They have sex offscreen, and they both go to sleep. As expected, Kris is murdered while Jesse watches. And this is another cheap ripoff of a well-known scene from a classic horror movie. Jesse runs to Nancy’s house, covered in blood, where Nancy reveals that she has been dreaming about Freddy. Jesse is arrested and jailed, and placed in cell #4. Yes. The Japanese word “shi” translates to both the number 4 and death. It’s all over Japanese mythology. Look it up. So of course Jesse is murdered.

Quentin and Nancy meet at the library to do some research on dreams. Quentin is revealed to be a religious guy. “Gotta believe in something.” Good for him! Freddy’s plan is implied when Quentin and Nancy discuss the seventy hour mark, micro-naps, and ultimately coma.

After a ripoff of the bubble bath scene, Nancy dreams of Badham (yes. BADham. OOOOOOOOH!) preschool, where Freddy addresses her as his “favorite” and as “my little Nancy”. Quentin and Nancy search through  Nancy’s mother’s photo stash and find a photo of Nancy, Quentin, Jesse, Kris, Dean, and roughly ten other kids in a Badham Preschool class photo. Nancy’s mother, Gwen (Connie Britton), catches them and reluctantly tells the two about their preschool years. At Badham, there was a gardener named Fred Krueger who physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused Nancy and the rest of the kids. Nancy was Fred’s favorite. Interesting. This was Wes Craven’s original idea for Freddy. A child molester rather than a child murderer. Apparently the subject of child molestation in film was taboo back in 1984. Nancy and Quentin initially do not believe Gwen.

Nancy discovers that all of Badham’s graduating class of that year, apart from her and Quentin, have died in their sleep. Quentin falls asleep during swim practice (it happens) (NEVER show me Kyle Gallner in a speedo! I respect him too much!) and dreams about what happened to Freddy. The parents of the Elm Street kids chase Freddy to the iconic boiler room and burn him alive.

Quentin and Nancy confront Clancy Brown and accuse him and the Elm Street parents of murdering an innocent man. Remember this – it will be important later.

Quentin and Nancy begin experiencing micro-naps and realize that they don’t have much time left. They decide to find Badham preschool. They stop at a pharmacy, but Nancy falls asleep, is attacked by Freddy, and pulls a piece of his sweater, rather than his fedora, into the waking world. Quentin takes Nancy to the hospital do deal with the cuts on her arm. He steals some adrenaline and syringes, and, when Gwen approves forced sedation, gets Nancy out of the hospital, making the hospital sequence almost entirely pointless.

The two make it to the preschool, and find the room where Freddy abused them. They find pictures of a young Nancy in various states of undress, revealing that – GASP! – Freddy WAS EVIL! Well, we’ve known that Freddy was evil since 1984, so the scenes in which Freddy is allegedly innocent are entirely pointless and basically make themselves out to be just…pointless pointlessness…which I think is the writing equivalent of dividing by zero. Or taking the square root of a negative number.

Nancy comes up with a plan: she will go to sleep, bring Freddy out into the real world, and she and Quentin will kill him. Nancy goes to sleep. Quentin arms himself, but falls asleep and is attacked by Freddy. Freddy terrorizes Nancy, explaining that he left her for last, and, seeing as she has been awake so long, she will not be able to wake up. Remember the marshmallow stairs in the original? It’s been replaced with the molasses hallway. Oh, and Freddy takes the opportunity to say the “wet dream” line from NoES 4: The Dream Master, the “I’m your boyfriend now” line from the original NoES, and the “LOOK-AT-ME!” line from The Dark Knight. WOW.

Quentin utilizes one of the adrenaline syringes to wake Nancy, and she pulls Freddy out into the real world, where she chops off his gloved hand and slashes his throat with a big broken paper cutter blade. Quentin and Nancy leave after torching the preschool with Freddy’s body still inside. As an injured Quentin is taken to the hospital, a police officer mentions that they have not been able to find a body. OOOOOH! When Nancy and Gwen return home from the hospital, Gwen passes in front of a mirror. Freddy lunges out of it, kills Gwen, and pulls her body through as Nancy screams.

What a freaking load.

While remaining visually faithful to the original, the story lacks the depth and twists that made the original as memorable as it is. It’s a paint-by-numbers experience that throws as many tired tropes of the franchise at us as it can.

The story is tired and recycled, the characters are desperate attempts to appeal to today’s stereotypical teenagers, Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara at least try, the effects are laughable, and it’s not…SCARY. This movie is not SCARY. I know I jumped a few times, but there is a massive difference between scary and startling.

While not as bad as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, let alone Halloween, it is still a very subpar horror remake when compared to The Fly, The Crazies, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dracula, Let Me In, and Dawn of the Dead.

I can only hope that someone good can come along and restore this franchise to what it used to be.

From what I hear, it is possible that a found-footage remake of Friday the 13th could be coming out soon. I can only hope that someone will come up with such a cool idea for remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Update: the forthcoming remake of Friday the 13th will not be found-footage. It’s not even a remake. It’s another sequel. What a wasted opportunity.

Final verdict: 1 out of 5 stars.

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