At the Movies with Alan Gekko: A Nightmare on Elm Street “2010”

MPAA Rating: R/ Genre: Horror/ Stars: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown, Connie Britton, Lia Mortensen, Kurt Naebig, Jennifer Robers, Christian Stolte, Kyra Krumins, Julianna Damm, Bayden Coyer, Max Holt/ Runtime: 95 minutes

I think it is safe to say that the horrifically terrible 2010 take on the iconic horror film that is A Nightmare on Elm Street is one that will haunt you and make you more sleepless than the redesign of Freddy could ever hope of pulling off. Indeed when taking into account the lot of recent…ish remakes, reboots, and reimaginings of iconic horror cinema, this one is far and away the most infuriating. Indeed gone is the visceralness, the doom and gloom, unnerving atmosphere, and mayhem of the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the overtop blood and guts not to mention pitch black darkness of the 2007 Halloween, and the campy fun of the 2009 Friday the 13th. Indeed what could have been the finest remake of the lot, especially when taking into account this series’ legacy, its infamous villain, and general premise, is instead a slice of cinematic pie that has no aim, no tempo, and worst of all, no heart (probably because Robert Englund’s Freddy ripped it out on his way out the door with Freddy vs. Jason in 2003). Rather, this…..”film” seems satisfied enough with just putting a new spin on some of the more iconic moments from the original and then insert them into a barely alive story that is propped up by mehhh acting, characters that will make you wish you could fall asleep, a terrible sense of tempo, typical mood, and a take on iconic horror film slasher Freddy Krueger who looks more like a burnt up in a UFO crash alien than the Freddy we all love to loathe. Yes hats off to this “film” for some decent effects work and the prerequisite gore, but even the lowest of the low in the Saw franchise had that. sigh

The plot is as follows: Normally the real world is one that is fraught with risk and peril and it is in our dreams that we are able to find the peace and serenity that the world around us seems to be severely lacking. For a group of teens living in the town of Springfield however, it seems that (for them at least) the world that they create in their dreams is becoming way more perilous than that of the real world. Indeed one of them in particular, a guy by the name of Dean has here lately fallen prey to a horrifically burnt-up man harassing him in his dreams at night. However despite his claims being written off as wild and out of control hallucinations, things take a sinister turn when he, for all appearances, slits his own throat in a diner in town thus causing several of his fellow teens to question if perhaps he might not have been off the deep end as previously thought. Of course it should come as no spoiler to learn that it isn’t long before this quartet of teens find themselves being stalked in their sleeper by the same figure that Dean saw. A figure incidentally who, not only comes after them with a glove equipped with razor blades, but also goes by the name of Freddy. Suffice it to say the terror of going to sleep begins to really wrack havoc on our heroes as they must combat both this horrific monster as well as the forces of nature itself in order to avoid drifting off to Dreamland. Thus with their health on the line, our intrepid quartet must race to figure out just why this guy wants them dead thus revealing a truly shocking secret that could change their lives forever….assuming that they manage to survive that is…..

Now in the same vein as the remake of The Karate Kid that was released the same year as this, the 2010 take on A Nightmare on Elm Street was given the truly astounding challenging of reinterpreting a true landmark movie, but also putting people in it to play characters who in the world of horror have become nothing short of legendary. Now the main, and fairly obvious, way to accomplish this would be to just leave the original alone as it is. A solution that I know the majority of you are nodding your head in approval on, but you do have to admit that every so often a remake does come along that legitimately works on the level that it needs to. In the case of the 2010 remake of Karate Kid, here was a film that managed to showcase the same vibe as before whilst complimenting its already iconic cast of characters and not replacing them in any way. This film however is one which sadly decides to go the exact opposite approach to how it does things. As a result, this is one film that is a complete and utter mess from start to finish and which has nearly every key ingredient not just faltering, but also ensuring that those who watch this film will have not a care in the world for either the narrative or the characters that populate said narrative. In addition, this is one slice of cinematic pie that, even as it leans quite a ways into the time-honored formula for these kinds of films, sees its attempts to put a new spin on some of the more iconic moments from the original fall flat on their face and give off the vibe that they are cheap in the worst way possible rather than an adoring look back. Heck each scene in this “film” doesn’t even like it is integral to some kind of story, but instead an odd ingredient that by circumstance happens to have a role in the constructing of the most basic narrative imaginable. If anything, I guess I can honestly say that I am glad that this film’s editing department does do decent work at making sure that characters who have been slaughtered all of a sudden don’t come to the movie a half hour later. Ultimately though, with how disjointed this film appears, it really doesn’t become any more or less than a group of scenes that are forced to stick together and in the process become one giant mess that you nor the Tylenol you take to get through it will adore let alone even come close to appreciating.

Indeed even the quite potent special effects and/or work in the blood and guts departments don’t really manage to do much save for trying to recreate moments from the original. At the same time even those departments seem clinical and run of the mill in their execution. Yes they are fairly well-done and maybe a tad bit better integrated than the ones in the original, but these don’t aid the film in any way save for giving off more of the vibe that this movie is just an aspiring duplicate instead of a tribute that is respectful to what came before. Put another way they simple serve as yet another case in point for how this film is not willing to do anything but go through the motions whilst planning on making a profit by standing on the shoulders of what came before without utilizing any of the ingredients that made what came before so beloved and iconic to begin with. It is that respect that I also share with you now that this trip down Elm Street is filled with, to be as nice as I can be, a bad group of characters that are severely lacking the individuality and diversity that made it easier to empathize with this original’s group of teens and be frightened for their lives at the same time. Not only that, but the acting is just mehhh in the worst way thus raising in my mind the question: is the acting this bad because the characters themselves are thus resulting in the performers not really having any material to utilize or does the meh acting negate what could be on paper some truly well-developed characters? Of course whilst I am convinced in the viability of the former answer rather than the latter, it is also not like this take on the film is filled with powerhouse thespians who are crippled by a terrible script. Rather this is a film that is just bad on a wide variety of levels. Now with all of these usually dependable ingredients going sour, it would help if the bad guy in this was one you could at least cheer on. At least that would be the case if this movie’s version of iconic horror villain Freddy Krueger wasn’t just a straight up tool especially in comparison to the portrayal given to us by Robert Englund. Oh and the fact that the makeup department does an “amazing job” at making this legendary monster look more like the burnt corpse of an alien from The X-Files than an iconic horror villain does not do this portrayal any favors. Thus the take on this that was playful yet horrifying as all get out has now been replaced by a portrayal that was duller than watching paint dry complete with eye-rollers for lines that are terrible attempts to try and show off that quippy comedy Krueger became known for in later installments. Heck the only things that I can honestly applaud this film for are the fact that it does actually come to an end and that there was never a sequel made (which in the land of movie magic says more than you could ever imagine).

All in all this was a brutal sit I’m not gonna lie movie lover. I say that because the 2010 take on A Nightmare on Elm Street is not only one of the worst films put out for mass audience consumption from the year 2010, but it is also a huge slap in the face to those of us who grew up loving the original (to say nothing of 80s horror in general). Indeed this is one slice of cinematic pie that is never able to acquire a tempo and as a result operates as no more than just a collection of scenes that all seem determined to mimic the original film as much as possible and is put together in such a way that it manages to build the weakest narrative possible consisting of “This is Freddy. He haunts you in your dreams. If you die in your dream, you also die in real life” and that’s pretty much it. I guess kudos could be given to the movie for bravely trying to conjure up some kind of backstory for both our killer and his potential batch of victims that go back quite some time, but even this falls flat on its face due to terrible work behind the camera, a lack of connectivity, meh to just downright lazy performances, a script that is one note all the way, and helmsmanship that even Garfield the cat would decry as too lazy. Heck even the doom and gloom mood in the film is one that feels rote and cliché which also negates to contribute any serious tension or unease to the film. Faring by far the worst though is the new but nowhere close to being improved on in any way Freddy Krueger who this time looks more like a burnt extraterrestrial from a lost X-Files episode than a terrifying human being turned horrific supernatural monster. Above all else take note that a remake of the iconic horror film that is A Nightmare on Elm Street could actually have been nightmarishly good; this however is not. I mean I may not be an expert or anything, but when you can nap through a movie that takes a killer stance against sleeping in general then that might not bode well for the slim to few positives that your film did have going for it in the first place. Just saying….On a scale of 1-5 I give A Nightmare on Elm Street “2010” a solid 2 out of 5.