It All Happens In The Dark

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Nine, ten… never watch again.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

While I do consider Wes Craven’s 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street a classic, I wouldn’t call it is a classic on par with, say, the original Halloween. But I do think it still holds up remarkably well, was the first and best of its kind and warrants repeated viewings and is worthy of accolades.

I’d like to think optimistically that this 2010 “re-imagining” no matter how terrible it is, could serve as a way to introduce a new audience and generation to the original, but then my pessimism (and reality) kick in. I imagine that upon viewing A Nightmare on Elm Street ’10 there would be two general reactions. The first would play out something like this: “Whoa! Cool! That kid just got his throat slit! And he was in Twilight! This is the best movie ever! Who cares about some old thing from the 80s? They didn’t even have CGI then!” The second reaction would be a contempt that permeates one’s mind to such a degree that they will be utterly unwilling to ever see anything Nightmare related again.

I thought that at least the filmmakers would be able to do something – anything – interesting with the dream segments – and oh, how wrong I was. They are the weakest points in the film, and are so unimpressive that I honestly cannot remember almost nothing about them. They’re even duller than the very dull waking lives that these ciphers now inhabit.

It is almost like a robot watched the original film and sort of understood which parts were scary and wrote a script that included these scenes but minus any authenticity or feeling. Things just happen because the script says that they must – there is no logic or reason behind it. It feels endless and torturous. I found myself mind numbingly bored, hoping it would soon be over. It felt like it was six hours long. And I was even looking forward to seeing it! Stupid idiot me. I didn’t have high expectations – but gee, I was expecting SOMETHING. This film isn’t even worth making fun of – the filmmaking is so inept that it practically mocks itself. This is a film that doesn’t need an audience at all. It exists in a vacuum and requires nothing of us.

So what does this new Nightmare have? Well, we get a cast full of pretty young things – most of them talented, all who should have known better. None of the characters are ever credible or evoke sympathy. The murders are done in such a hamfisted way that they don’t even register.

Jackie Earle Haley is especially awful as Freddy. I don’t know how much of the failure can be attributed to him or how much should be blamed upon the horrible makeup the filmmakers have cooked up. Maybe now Freddy’s makeup is more realistic in terms of how a burn victim would look – but this is a phantom, a dream monster – who says he is supposed to look realistic? Freddy is never once even remotely menacing, which is sad not only because of what he once was, but because of the total investment with which Jackie Earle Haley abandons himself to the role and still fails with seemingly no concept that he is doing so. He is a very good actor and casting him was an interesting and commendable idea, but  the “re-imagining” of this character is nothing short of a total disaster in which everything they could have done wrong they do.

Well, one might say – what about all those horrible sequels in which Freddy was a wise-cracking old joker and he wasn’t at all scary? Well, I say this to you – compared to what we have now that Freddy was horrifying. It doesn’t help, either, that the updated story has Freddy working as a gardener at a pre-school and just begs a comparison to the Groundskeeper Willie character from The Simpsons.

I don’t know why I keep thinking Platinum Dunes is at all capable of making a good film. In most cases there is no reason for the film to even be remade (Texas Chain Saw Massacre, anyone?) and while A Nightmare on Elm Street isn’t as bad at that horrible “re-imagining” it comes pretty damn close. Though he is not the director of this venture (that would be former helmer of – *cringe* music videos, Samuel Bayer) I do often wonder how many more classic horror films Marcus Nispel is going to be allowed to fuck up.

At one point the upstairs hallway in Nancy’s house turns into Molasses Swamp from Candyland and don’t tell me that Gloppy doesn’t resemble the new Freddy more than a little bit.

Can I just say this? I am so sick of THAT SCENE – you know the one, in which some character in a bathroom is looking at themselves in the mirror and then they open the medicine cabinet or for some other reason the camera cuts away and a few seconds later the the medicine cabinet is closed or we cut back to the mirror again with the anticipation that now something scary will be there. Is it a rule that every other horror film being currently released must contain this? And the way these films almost lord it over you, as if they are so clever that they didn’t have a monster suddenly appear. That isn’t clever – it is a bigger cliche now to not have something be there.

This film does get one thing right. Yes, just one. No, I’m serious. The last scene. I was shocked and shaken – it was unexpected and well done. I would go so far as to say that this scene in the remake is superior to the scene it reworks from Wes Craven’s original. But don’t get me wrong. That is the only thing I liked in this movie. A thirty second spot. Maybe I was just so happy it was over I accredited more to that final scene than I should have. Nothing else comes at all close to surpassing Craven’s vision – not at all, not even, not a bit.

Take the title to heart, kids – this film is a nightmare. D-

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