Before I get into this, I’d like to quickly revisit my track record with the recent remakes of classic horror movies.
Friday the 13th? Hated it.
Halloween and Halloween II? Hated ‘em.
Dawn of the Dead? Meh.
Black Christmas? Don’t even fucking get me started.
The Hills Have Eyes? Yawn.
The Fog? Shit sandwich.
House of Wax? Laaaaaaaaaaame…
The Omen? Stab me in the face.
In fact, the only remakes of bygone flicks that I haven’t wanted to puke blood on were The Toolbox Murders, The Crazies, The Wolfman, My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Sorority Row and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And let’s face it, a few of those weren’t really very good to begin with.
So it might go without saying that I approached viewing the recent remake of the post-slasher classic A Nightmare on Elm Street with extremely low expectations.
Not low enough, though!
For me, the 2010 Nightmare might actually be the worst remake of a major franchise yet. Not because of the liberties it takes with the source material (of which there are several) or because of the general lack of innovation demonstrated by the filmmakers (of which there is plenty), but because it commits a crime that, in genre cinema terms, very nearly places it in the loathsome ranks of its own kiddie-fiddling villain:
It’s boring as shit.
For a genre film rooted in a patently ludicrous premise (i.e., a lynch-mobbed pedophile hunts down the kids who ratted him out and murders them in their dreams), Nightmare takes itself way the eff too seriously. Lacking every shred of the wicked wit that made the original film take root in the psyches of a generation, it is a humorless, dull slog through territory already well-tread by about a hundred Lifetime revenge movies (and there’s hardly even any more blood).
Robbing Nightmare of its macabre glee is like robbing dreams of their slippery magic … and doing either robs us of a decent movie.
We start this particular nightmare in a diner (which is at least evocative of the diner where Alice works in The Dream Master), where underwear model Kellan Lutz is having his considerable assets completely wasted under grunge garb. He falls asleep and wakes in what is clearly a nightmare to wander through the diner kitchen, which is filled with pig heads. (What, is his character vegetarian? Or Muslim?) After waking he has cursory exchanges with blond, beleaguered Kris (Harper’s Island‘s Katie Cassidy) and brunette, beleaguered Nancy (Rooney Mara) before nodding off again and stabbing himself in the neck with a steak knife that, had Nancy not been a lousy friend and a lousier waitress, should have been cleared from his table after his first psychotic outbreak.
Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker and Rooney Mara wait for something to happen
In this version of Nightmare, several things are different: 1) Nancy has no hottie policeman father; 2) The “Elm Street Kids” aren’t really even friends; 3) The kids Freddy is stalking are the actual children he molested years ago; and, most importantly:
4) Freddy is hella short.
Seriously, guys? We’re supposed to be afraid of this little guy? Even Katie Cassidy towers over him. This is more like a remake of Leprechaun than Elm Street.
What ensues and eventually ends (or, in the tradition of the original, kind of doesn’t) is about as exciting and as visually stimulating as a car commercial. A few of the memorable kills (the jail death, Tina’s Wacky Wall-Walker routine) are recreated but oddly muted (Cassidy’s wall-bouncing – while acrobatic – does nothing to match the gruesome blood-crawl punch of the original). Everyone mumbles their lines, Kyle Gallner perpetually looks like he just ate a bug, and multiple missed opportunities are noted.
Kyle Gallner ate another bug
Take, for example, the swim meet scene. This is a Nightmare movie, right? So when we see a pool, we get excited for something fun and weird and awesome (like the bizarre diving board nightmare from The Dream Child, only … not as cheesy).
What do we get? 10 minutes of pasty Gallner swimming, getting suddenly yanked underwater, and coming to poolside. What?! Why bother to give your killer the ability to bend reality and rebuild his victims’ mental landscapes when you’re never going to take advantage of it? In this version Freddy’s only powers seem to be the ability to pop up behind people and hang out in a boiler room that, in this version of the story, HAS NO REASON FOR BEING THERE (there’s no boiler room in the nursery school and Freddy is killed in a warehouse – am I missing something?).
In fact, the only remotely scary moment of this movie was when Kris uncovered a box of photos from her childhood and I noticed that the box was marked “First Grade – 1997″. HOLY SHIT I’M OLD.
“Bud… Wei … Ser”
There are very few things to recommend about this extra-molesty “reimagining” of the original – which, I might add, comes across as even more clever than I had initially realized for its deft ability to condemn Freddy as a pedophile without directly connecting him to the heroes, although it’s definitely implied. Newly-designed Freddy looks like a cross between the Bud Light iguana and a piece of chewed gum. Dropping Nancy as the protagonist for the first half of the movie (which plays out more like vignettes) does nothing to endear her, and her fuzzy, inward characterization does even less (Mara should make a great Lisbeth Salander, though).
In the end, this Nightmare is more of a nap. Pointless, littered with logical lapses and staggeringly uninteresting, it might actually be the worst of the remakes so far. (Yes, even worse than Rob Zombie’s Halloweens, and after all my spouting off about them!) If you haven’t seen this stinker yet, before you add it to your Netflix queue you may want to take the movie’s own advice: “Don’t let them put you to sleep.”
RATING (OUT OF 5):
A Nightmare on Elm Street is rated “R” for horror violence, harm to short people and the most nonsensical use of a video blog in movie history.