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.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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