Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better
The 1984 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street is a horror classic. It created a legendary villain that crossed over in the popular culture and spawned multiple sequels. No shock then that it would some day be rebooted. However, when this happened in 2010 the new version of A Nightmare on Elm Street was just a bad movie. With a score of just 15% on Rotten Tomatoes it fell well short of expectations. So what went wrong?
Fredrick Charles Krueger AKA The Springwood Slasher has been terrorising sleepy children on the big screen for over 26 years. Wes Cravens’ cutlery clad icon has been the villain throughout an extensive horror franchise. However, this revamped film, in particular, remains a stand out disappointment.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) took a classic introduction to a once in a generation cinematic legend and remade it into a hollow pastiche of its former self. It’s easy to question how something so established could possibly go wrong? So put on your best stripy murder jumper, as we take a closer look.
Recipe for success
At the helm of this 2010 reboot was none other than the master of the multi-generational gloom rock music video, Samuel Bayer. He’s famous for directing music videos such as Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit’, Green Day’s American Idiot’ and My Chemical Romance’s Welcome to the Black Parade’. They elevated everyone involved. They engaged their adolescent audiences. All whilst embedding each project firmly into that generations zeitgeist.
You then give Bayer a modest budget of $35 million and a cast of young attractive actors and you have exactly what the original A Nightmare on Elm Street had to make their classic… and more!
Let’s not underestimate the size of this project. Yes, it’s a remake of a horror classic, but if you were going to do it, on paper this is how you should do it.
A director who has a proven track record of creating timeless visuals that inspire a generation, a small but decent budget, a fresh cast… oh and one of the most famous characters of all time. How could something that looks so right, go so wrong?
SPOILERS: There are some spoilers in places. So beware!
The Final Girl
What made Heather Langenkamp’s Nancy so special in the 1984 original? Well not only did she conform to the horror trope of the final girl’, but she was built to be a genuine rival to Krueger.
In defence of the remake, many of Nancy’s original scenes that made the film so special are recreated. From the glove and bath scene to the body dragged along the school floor. All the hits are played, but they just go through the motions.
The original Nancy has a psychotic breakdown in class. Leading to an extensive medical test before she is forced to try and save her ragtag bunch of teen friends. Whilst, modern Nancy learns of her childhood trauma at the hands of Krueger, yet reminds the pray until the very final scenes of the film.
This rushed character arc and lacklustre delivery simply makes Nancy less engaging overall, and by the final scenes… you don’t really care if she survives.
Much like the updated version of Nancy, the films main character has a lot taken away, only to be replaced by a vast chasm of nothingness. Reworked Freddy doesn’t pay homage to the campy style. He doesn’t use new effects to heighten his gruesome nature and doesn’t even try to invert that by using realism.
The iconic original line from Jesse “oh god” matched with Freddie’s reveal of the knifed glove and the line “no, this is god.’ Is replaced by “oh god” and the response of “no… just me’. Safe to say this falls flat and deliberately abandons a great moment in favour of nothing; a running theme throughout this remake.
The tone is off throughout the 2010 horror. Producer Brad Fuller revealed that they were abandoning some of the franchises’ campy nature for this reboot. “Freddy would not be “cracking jokes” as had become a staple of his character in later sequels-and focus more on trying to craft a horrifying movie.”.
The imagery of this film does follow this mission statement in all fairness. The overuse of gritty, dark lighting that plagued so many films in the late 2000s runs throughout this remake. And yet the silly double entendres and one-liners’ still creep in.
For every battle in a boiler room, there is a how’s this for a wet dream’ line to take the sting out of it. At least the original films kept to one tone. Either full-on slasher flick dialogue or darker realism. The attempt at both is just juxtaposing.
A Slasher Film to Sleep Too
One main issue with this remake is that there is a lack of anything memorable happening. In a film about a maniacal daemon trying to kill people when they fall asleep… it ironically becomes a snooze fest.
Apart from the recreation of the original films dream sequences, there isn’t much of note. The tension that is slowly built up throughout the scenes of the original film are done so perfectly, yet replaced by cheap jump scares in 2010.
A perfect example of this is the scene with Rufus the dog. In the 1984 film, there is an insinuation that Freddy is at Tina’s house as the barking stops and the dog goes missing. In 2010 Kris just finds her murdered canine on the grass… There is no mystique, no tension, just straight to the reveal. Of all things to keep in this film… that method of storytelling was crucial.
A Fresh Take Toned Down
Jackie Earle Haley was set to play the new Freddy that, whilst not a full origin story, was getting a refreshed background. Instead of a maniacal child killer, Freddie was going to be a sadistic child molester. This was Cravens original intention for the character, however, he went with simply alluding to this in favour of mystery. The remake spells it out and uses it as a narrative device to explain how all the main characters are survivors of Freddie.
Throughout the 2010 remake, the teens of Springwood battle their dead abuser that’s set out to claim his victims in a dream world. One that’s pretty much the same as their reality. A horror film that tackles the topics of sexual abuse could have been poignant. But the studio of Platinum Dunes scaled this back in favour of wider appeal and in fashion’ tropes of the genre.
This again sums up the missed opportunity of this remake. They wanted to make Freddy a sexual predator, yet compromised with a half-baked version that offers very little. In reality, this removes all purpose of a remake if you’re not retelling the old story or really telling a fresh one.
Actor Thomas Dekker told Screen Geek, “Okay, we’re going to open up the mythology of Freddy Krueger. We’re going to make him darker and actually explore the idea of child sexual abuse and those are all the things that interested me. Of course, at the end of the day when you have to put it in 1,000 theatres or more, you have to shy away from those things and just make it a sell-able entity. So I think you can’t really start judging the leaves of a tree if the seed is f**ked.”
Studio interference is often the scapegoat for bad movies. But Platinum Dunes’ long for a payday may have held back a much darker and daring Elm Street remake.
Due to the new undercooked backstory, Freddy was given in 2010, a strange and unnecessary undercurrent is clear. Since they quickly speed through the reveal that Freddy was a child abuser. All before we see him fleeing from an angry mob. It’s almost as if seeds of doubt are deliberately placed to make Freddy the victim. So justifying why he’s hunting these teens in their sleep.
A decade later and I’m still not sure what the purpose would be to try to add sympathy to one of the most recognisable serial killers in cinematic history. This section of the film casts doubt on why we should invest in the character. It’s another hearty shake of the already flimsy narrative of this film.
We could have gotten updated sequences of Freddy shapeshifting through weapons and objects to torment his victims. Yet instead, we were offered a crying paedo running from a mob…
A New Nightmare
From dream warriors and sleep daemons, the Elm St films have a rich cannon to pull from. The groundwork was already laid which made the 2010 output feel like an unsatisfactory, pointless cash grab.
Whilst there were many wrong turns throughout this movie, I can suggest not one, but two alternative ways this could have been a better story.
The first, you make the film they intended to make. Yes, this may not have been under the official Elm St’ banner, but it could have been a dark origin story of Freddy and vigilante justice. It could have followed the young outcast, played on the early sequels by introducing his mother, the nun. Then introduced his fascination with the paranormal. This could introduce his supernatural transformation following his death.
In return, a cast of teens that the audience are invested in is built by having a more sincere reveal of their past. Rather than spoon-feeding the narrative in a monologue, a character could discover they have a deceased older sibling that was one of Freddie’s first victims. Thus tying the two narratives together.
Or, you go full Freddy’ and play of the supernatural element by having a shapeshifting daemon become larger than life. This could be thanks to modern technology in cinema. The reality of the teen’s world and Freddie’s psychedelic nightmare land remain separate until they are required to merge. And his prey are engulfed into Freddie’s own fairground. The mystery of the character remains, yet we have a fresh paranormal tale that firmly establishes a new era of Krueger.
A Fresh Freddie?
It’s only a matter of time before we all return to Elm Street. Elijah Wood has mentioned that he would like to take a pop at recreating original Freddy himself. Also, Robert Englund suggested he could dust off the fedora one more time. “I could do one more, probably, if you shot me up with Vitamin C. I can’t do eight more, so we need a new actor that you guys believe in and trust and love that can go the distance.”
Overall, the 2010 film planned the right moves, yet failed to deliver by falling into the money-hungry traps of its 2000s remake-obsessed bedfellows. Whilst this will remain a disappointing reimagining, a classic franchise much like Freddie, is immortal.
Thanks for reading this edition of historic movie bombs that could have been better aka A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), a bad movie. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our bad movie reviews HERE
Read IMDB information on A Nightmare on Elm Street HERE.
Jungle Cruise – Review
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt swing in with force in Disney’s new Jungle Cruise. And while the movie has fun callbacks to the Disney Park ride and a clever plot, if this movie is trying to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, it falls short. Here’s our review of Jungle Cruise.
SPOILERS: Warning there are spoilers ahead.
To be honest, I was expecting a much less creative plot from this movie. Following suit with typical adventure movies, I was expecting this film to be a less-funny version of the Jumanji reboot. But the plot has an unexpected emotional centre and a clever twist. And while the film suffers from CGI villain goopiness, it gives the CGI villains actual heart and motivations.
The film centres on Lilly (Emily Blunt), a botanist in search of a healing petal. The petal is said to be able to cure any illness and resides deep in the Amazon Rainforest. She is accompanied by her little brother, McGregor (Jack Whitehall) and their hired skipper, Frank (Dwayne Johnson).
But a curse resides around the petal. Spanish conquistador Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) and his crew went in search of the petal four hundred years ago. The petal can only be found with an arrowhead sacred to the Umbala or Headhunter tribe of the region. When Aguirre and his crew are on the brink of death, the Umbala tribe saves them. But Aguirre betrays them to get his hands on the arrowhead, and the chief of the Umbala tribe curses Aguirre and his party. They can never stray from the river, or the rainforest will take them. For four hundred years, they’ve lain dormant, having strayed too far from the banks of the river. They cannot die.
Now the arrowhead rests with a sexist scientific community. Lilly steals the arrowhead, just before it was set to be sold to Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons). Joachim works for the German government during the height of World War One. He believes that the petal will not only bring victory to Germany, but will make him a world ruler. (How he thinks it will do that is unclear).
As Lilly, McGregor, and Frank make their way down the Amazon in search of the Petal, Joachim follows and occasionally attacks them in his submarine. Deciding he needs more help, he wakes up Aguirre, now a monster of the Amazon, and his crew. Aguirre, who is now made out of snakes, and his two colleagues, one of which is made out of honey and bees and the other mud and tee frogs, are sent on Lilly’s trail.
What happens next is the usual adventure. White water rapids, a run-in with the Umbala tribe (who become allies), submarine fights, swinging on jungle vines; you name it.
But after a run-in with Aguirre, Lilly learns the truth about Frank. In a plot twist I absolutely did not see coming, it turns out that Frank is actually Francisco, Aguirre’s cartographer. We learn that Aguirre was not looking for the petal for glory or gold, but to save his deeply ill daughter. Aguirre and Francisco grew up together, and they were willing to do anything to save his daughter. But when Aguirre betrays the Umbala tribe, Francisco tries to stop Aguirre. Francisco was also cursed to be unable to leave the riverbank, but Aguirre kept returning to fight and defeat (stab) Francisco.
Tired of constantly getting stabbed, Francisco traps Aguirre in a cave. Letting the Amazon have him and turn him into the monster he is today. Francisco then built a town on the river banks, built a boat in search of the petal, gave up, and now runs river cruises.
While the plot is very complicated, it’s easy enough to follow while watching the film. I will say that the motivations of Joachim are a little hard to follow. But the plot twist with Frank was very clever. It gives a CGI-heavy Aguirre a human heart. Now all he wants to do is break the curse and be allowed to die. To do so he needs a petal. The plot in and of itself was much more clever than I expected.
Characters and performances
One character that pleasantly surprised me was McGregor. At first, I thought he was merely queer-coded. He definitely fell into some gay stereotypes, but I thought that was all it was going to be. A guy who was subtly a little queer. But, when Frank asks him why follows Lilly, even through a jungle, he gives a surprisingly candid answer. He explains to Frank that he is gay and that Lilly is the only one who supports him.
When the world turned his back on him, she stood with him, and for that, he would “follow her into a volcano.” This is the first time I can remember that a Disney character was very, clearly openly gay. Disney has had about a dozen “first gay characters,” but all of them have been off to the side. None of them has stated their sexuality or been open about it. McGregor not only states it outright but is not ashamed of it and it is not his only character trait. He becomes brave and capable and is a good friend to both Frank and Lilly. It was really surprising to see good representation from Disney in this film.
Emily Blunt also gives a wonderful performance (as she always does). She’s headstrong and stubborn, but kind. The sexism was a little on the nose, with a tired bit about how she wears pants, but she was delightful.
And Dwayne Johnson was… okay. He plays the exact same character in every movie he’s in. And while his performance was good in this movie, I can’t help but think that another actor could have done better. He and Emily Blunt have a romance in this movie, but they have absolutely no chemistry. It was hard to believe their romance. I think another actor could have added a little more to Frank’s character. Frank is an interesting character, and another actor could have done more with him. This movie might have been better without Dwayne Johnson.
This movie also might have been better without Joachim. His motivations were really hard to follow. At the end of the day, he was just another stereotype of a German general who only complicated the plot.
It feels as though Jungle Cruise might be Disney’s attempt to re-make the magic of Pirates of the Caribbean. But I can’t see this film becoming a franchise. The first Pirates movie is masterful, with amazing rewatchability. But Jungle Cruise, while fun, is forgettable. It’s not a movie I see myself rewatching anytime soon. If this is an attempt to create a new franchise for Disney; it falls short. But, the film was fun to watch and was a good movie theatre experience.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 5/10
Thank you for reading our review of Jungle Cruise. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our review of Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place Part Two HERE.
Read IMDB information about Jungle Cruise HERE.
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