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What Went Wrong? A Nightmare On Elm Street

Lewis Budden

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Reviewing a bad movie that could’ve been better

Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) image
New Line Cinema

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.

Freddie Kroug-urgh

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.

Uncomfortable Undertones

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.

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9 Movie Remakes That Should Never Have Been Made

Aaron Phillips

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Total Recall 2012 image
Columbia Pictures

Let’s have a look at nine movie releases remakes that definitely shouldn’t have never been made to seen the light of day.

It seems that in recent years, Hollywood have run out of original movie ideas. There has been remake after remake of films that were initially successful. As it often the case, film execs decide to cash in and remake these films for a new audience.

Now, sometimes this works. Oceans Eleven; The Jungle Book and Woman in Black are some examples that come to mind.

But sometimes it can go spectacularly wrong. This can be due to poor box office sales or being critically panned by the critics. Or it could just be the fact that the writing is utterly diabolical.

9. The Omen (2006)

If you’re going to have a pop at remaking a horror classic, then you have to bring something new to the table. The David Seltzer-penned 1976 original is a horror classic. Brooding and sinister, it doesn’t rely on shock scares. Instead, it uses atmosphere; some fantastic actors; a great script and an Oscar-winning musical score. This remake from 2006 didn’t live up to its predecessor’s brilliance. In fact, there’s no good reason why it was made. The plot follows almost the exact same story as the original film. A large majority of the scenes are practically identical, which seems pointless. You can’t blame the cast as there was some fine actors involved – Mia Farrow, Pete Postlethwaite and Michael Gambon to name a few. But their acting skills were not enough to make this movie good.

It adds nothing new to the original story; it’s just the same film with a different cast. It did make a healthy profit at the box office ($120 million), but the critic reviews were not good for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Fan-reviewed websites also have pretty poor reviews for it, so don’t just take my word for it.

8. Robin Hood (2018)

There have been a few Robin Hood movies over the years. Some are better than others, but this remake from 2018 is truly terrible. There are many factors involved and the two lead men are fine actors, but just not in this movie. Taron Egerton and Jamie Foxx have a great filmography, but their ham acting is just cringeworthy here. Blame should also go to the script, which is cheesier than a large cheese pudding. There is plenty of action sequences, but the costumes and dialogue are all anachronistic. This all adds to the clunkiness of the whole debacle. It was also a box office bomb and universally panned by critics. If you want a good Robin Hood movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights from 1993.

7. Get Carter (2000)

The 1971 original is often hailed as one of the greatest movies of all time. A lot of that had to do with the charismatic Michael Caine as the lead character. A gritty Londoner out for revenge after the murder of his brother. In 2000 the movie was remade, but this time it’s set in Seattle with Sylvester Stallone as the lead character. The premise is still the same as the original film, but Sly Stallone kicking butts in Seattle just doesn’t have the same impact. Yes, there are some cool fight scenes and Sly does a good job on the acting front. But it doesn’t have the coolness or panache of the original. It just another Sly fronted action-thriller with little substance. Critics and audiences agreed, and it was universally panned. It also lost $40 million at the international box office.

Psycho (1998)

I’m going to open with the same point I made earlier in this article. If you are going to remake a classic movie, then be innovative and do something new. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 original is a masterpiece of creepy psychological filmmaking. Unfortunately, this 1998 remake failed to improve on any of that. Vince Vaughn played the Norman Bates character with Anne Heche playing Marion Crane. They do a fair job in portraying these iconic characters but bring nothing new to them. I guess seeing the film in colour helps bring a modern feel to it; especially as fake blood was used as opposed to chocolate sauce in the original. But interesting facts aside, it’s pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the original.

Even the director Gus Van Sant admitted later it was an experiment to see if a shot-for-shot movie would work. It didn’t, as was proved by the critical and financial failure of the film. Then it barely made back half of its $60 million dollar budget. It was also given several Golden Raspberry awards for worst director and worst remake. This proves that you don’t mess around with Alfred Hitchcock.

5. Robocop (2014)

I remember walking into the cinema to watch this full of excitement. I left the cinema two hours later full of popcorn, but also full of disappointment. The original 1987 film is a cult classic. It’s mix of action; violence and satire made it one of the best movies of the decade. This remake from 2014 failed to hit any of those spots. Yes, it had some small elements of political satire and philosophical touches from the original, but little else. People with weak stomachs will applaud the lack of gore, but without it, the film seems too melodramatic. The updated effects make this remake look better, but the substance and excitement just aren’t there. Critics were overwhelming negative of the film too. There is also another reboot in the works. Why?!

4. The Fog (2005)

Enveloping fog has always been a good premise from a horror film. John Carpenter also thought so and made a creepy such film in 1980. The plot revolves around a mysterious fog that brings dead sailors to haunt and terrorize a Californian town. Sometimes the passage of time can allow for the special effects to improve, and it does here. But the gaps between the various grisly deaths are just dull. The characters are wooden, and you don’t end up caring when they meet their untimely demise. John Carpenter did produce this remake so it’s surprising there isn’t more depth to it. It did make a small profit at the box office but was universally panned by movie critics. If you do have to watch it just don’t engage your brain.

3. Total Recall (2012)

Another movie that tried to reboot an iconic sci-fi action film. 1990’s original was set on Mars and featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. At the time, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made. This remake from 2012 had Colin Farrell in the lead role, supported by the brilliant Kate Beckinsale. This is another film that’s enjoyable to watch, just don’t try thinking whilst watching. There are plenty of spectacular action sequences that fizz, pop and bang, but don’t expect substance. It lacks any depth to the plot and misses the mark on the dry humour and character development that the original had. Pretty much all the movie critics agreed as well.

2. Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

Ah, Nicolas Cage. His movies in recent years have been a bit, well, hit and miss. And that’s being generous. It’s a shame as he is genuinely a great actor. But in recent years he’s picked terrible films to be in, and often dials in a performance. This remake from the Pang brothers Thai original from 1999 has none of the unique hallmarks of the original. For example, Nic Cage’s character is no longer deaf and mute like he was in the original. This seems odd as the brothers also directed this remake. A meandering plot; wooden performances and clunky cinematography make this a flop. It also received poor reviews and barely broke even at the box office.

1. Death Wish (2018)

The Charles Bronson 1974 original was a violent but successful vigilante movie. It also hit a chord with Americans at a time of increasing urban violence. It spawned several sequels, but this 2018 remake had Bruce Willis dishing out the justice. The original film had a point to make about taking the law into your own hands and did it with a visceral bang. The film was shocking at the time with its violence and rape scene, but it was relevant to explain how the lead character changed through the film. This remake doesn’t explore any of this.

It’s a brainless revenge movie that doesn’t have the same impact as the original and Bruce Willis dials in a lacklustre performance. It doesn’t add anything to the original film, and you’re left feeling empty after watching it. The whole thing seems pointless and morally bankrupt. In fact, it makes the 1974 original seem almost philosophical. It also received criticism for being released a few weeks after the Douglas High School shooting in Florida and for glorifying guns. It also barely made a profit at the box office and overwhelmingly received negative reviews.


And that’s our list of nine movie remakes that should never have been given the green light. Did we miss any? do you agree with us? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about what went wrong with the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street HERE.

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