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June 17, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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A Nightmare on Elm Street

Film

No matter what I say about it, A Nightmare on Elm Street is by no means an awful movie. It’s just an unnecessary movie, which is worse. It’s very obvious that a lot of money has gone into re-jigging the 1984 slasher classic. My question to the producers (which happen to include Michael Bay of Transformers infamy) would simply be: Why?

Usually, it’s worth judging a movie on its own merits. This is impossible with a remake, especially one as uninspiring and derivative as Nightmare. The whole mess makes a lot more sense when you learn it comes from the same production company responsible for the remakes of Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—all of which grossed far more than the original films. The 2010 Nightmare is currently the eigth highest grossing slasher ever released in the US. This probably gives you a better idea of what the producers were going for.

Nightmare loosely follows the plot of the original. Freddy Kruger, the unkillable dream-fiend, has been changed from a child killer to a child molester—Wes Craven’s initial intent. It’s this part of the film which works best. It’s hard not to wonder how the original would have differed if Craven was able to follow through with this vision. There’s a weak stab at the idea that Freddy could just be a repressed memory, but it’s hard to take that seriously after eight previous Nightmare films.

Jackie Earl Haley (Rorschach from Watchmen) is a gross-looking elf at the best of times, and coupled with some of the most convincing burn-victim CGI/prosthesis I’ve ever seen, he provides a genuinely menacing presence while stalking the kids through their corridors of unconsciousness. Slasher franchises are never about the victim’s personality, which is just as well considering that none of the leads have one. Unless you can count personality as “not fitting in”—which in Hollywoodese translates to wearing a Joy Division shirt or doing art.

For all this effort, it’s remarkable how much of this we’ve seen before. The scares aren’t phoned-in in advance. They’re telegraphed in. Hell, they’re smoke-signalled in. I lost count of my mental tally of fake-outs. Creepy music stopped and a terrified teen looks like they’re safe? Think again! Dog suddenly stopped barking outside? Well, gee, I wonder what’s happened to him!

You could get this from any horror of the last 30 years. And much more cleverly too—think Rec or Paranormal Activity. Some of the dream sequences are well-contrived, but do we really need a different filter on the lens and a creepy blonde four-year-old to let us know that a character’s fallen asleep? The real fear in a nightmare comes in not knowing that you’re dreaming—which is something the film completely misses.

Don’t see this movie. Seriously. You’re not missing anything that you won’t have seen a million times before, and done better than this. Do yourself a favour and rent the original, try to watch the sequel as a fable about gay panic (seriously, it works really well) and pick up Scream while you’re there for a healthy dose of self-awareness.

The best thing about this movie was that no one at Reading asked for my ticket and there were only two other people in the cinema. Granted, it was four in the afternoon so it could be wishful thinking to suppose that remakes are on their way out.

Still, a guy can dream, right?

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About the Author ()

Lewis has been playing videogames since his family's PC Direct "workstation" in early 1996. He spends his spare time reading political blogs, working and welcoming complaints and suggestions.

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