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.
9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies
There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.
1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)
Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.
2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)
Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.
3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.
4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.
5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)
Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.
6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)
I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.
7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)
This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.
8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)
We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.
9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)
Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.
That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.
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