US (dir. Samuel Bayer)
Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Lia D. Mortensen, Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker
Synopsis: A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.
Review: The remake of Wes Craven’s 1984 horror masterpiece, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (yeah, it’s a masterpiece, go watch it and tell me otherwise) is proof enough that Michael Bay is the fucking Antichrist predicted in Revelations… and I firmly believe that the 2010 “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake is a sure sign of the Apocalypse.
As legend has it, Michael “Explosions” Bay had to convince Samuel Bayer with a large sack of cash beg Samuel Bayer (a director of music videos – primarily for Green Day) to direct the “A Nightmare on Elm Street” remake. I guess Bay was too busy measuring the size of his head, boning Megan Fox or drafting an explosion “script” for “Transformers 3: Bigger Explosions, More Robots”. Or maybe there simply weren’t enough (or in fact, any) major explosions in the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” which would warrant Bay directing the remake himself. That, or he’s just become so used to capitalizing on the sweet, sweet cash that comes from sitting on your ass and acting as a producer for countless horror remakes that there really is no benefit to directing a remake himself. Or, he just doesn’t have the balls to go in there and get his hands dirty directing a remake, because if it turns out to be a shitty remake (67% of the remakes he has produced to date have been shit) I guess it’s just that easy for him to wipe his hands clean of it. As of 2009, Bay has produced four horror movie remakes and one remakequel. Of those, only two have been excellent while the rest have been absolute shit. Those aren’t terrible stats, and based on this trend, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” had an approximately 40% chance (pretty decent, mind you) of being in the excellent group. After watching it, however, it earned a 99.9% chance of me never wanting to watch it again and was 100% effective at actually offending both my love of the Freddy Krueger character, my generally upstanding morals, and my intelligence as a human being (sorry to be so dramatic, but you’d have to love something and see it brutally raped and destroyed in front of your very eyes to understand the level of pain and dismay I experienced after seeing this wretched, unfathomably bad remake). The fact that Wes Craven wasn’t even called on as a consultant for the film also irked me, but I let it slide… until, of course, I saw what they did to poor old Freddy. Tsk tsk.
First and foremost, they did a fucking dreadful job on Freddy’s burnt face. Looking at it made me want to vomit. He looked like the goddamn dramatic look gopher, but worse (if that’s even possible).
Dramatic look gopher… or Freddy Krueger? Hmmmm…..
It’s no wonder nearly all the movie promo posters were so dark and obscure looking. They were trying desperately to hide Freddy’s botched new face and that hideous snubby nose. In one poster I saw in a subway station (one I still have to walk by, sadly, every day on my commute to work) they actually photo-shopped a nose in for the new Freddy which is confusing considering the new Freddy’s nose does not look anything like the one in the poster. Guess the new Freddy didn’t look so fantastic in a close up shot with some lighting thrown in, so they photo-shopped the face and made all subsequent movie posters showing Freddy as a shadow or cast in darkness. If anything, the Freddy pictured below is more reminiscent of 1980s, Robert Englund style Freddy Krueger than 2010 Freddy.
Krueger’s makeup is just too laughably bad to take seriously or to be frightened by. Give me 1980s Freddy Krueger any day, I’ll pass on the update’s version. I don’t even want to buy the new “A Nightmare on Elm Street” Freddy Krueger action figure because it would look embarrassingly bad standing next to my Robert Englund Freddy Krueger. Hell, I don’t even want to buy the “Fred” Krueger action figure because buying an action figure of a child rapist (more on this later) actually offends me.
Since I was just on the topic of bad movie posters, I’d like to point out the blatantly idiotic tag line for “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (which I believe was in a promo ad for the film and a line in the movie): “If you die in your dreams, you die for real”. Really? You die for reals? Wowee. Oh and there’s also this little gem: “He knows where you sleep”. Uhhh… in your bed? Jesus Christ, who gets paid to think up these horrid lines?!?! Remember the tag line for the original?: “If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all…”. A much better, more eloquent tag line than what the 2010 writers thought up. Why didn’t they just give up on creativity altogether and just tack on this doozy of a tag line that I just came up with myself: “This movie is about a man who stalks and tries to kill you in your dreams. He is gifted with supernatural abilities to severely injure you in your dreams. Therefore, dying in the dream would result in your actual death” . It would be like giving “Jurassic Park” the tag line: “If you clone a dinosaur, it will eat you”*, or giving “Friday the 13th” a tag line like: “The man with a machete and a hockey mask will kill you”. D’uhhhh.
Yikes… before all this ranting gets out of hand, I should probably get back to my actual review…
First off, I was sort of on the fence about my feelings towards having Jackie Earle Haley play the iconic Freddy Krueger. Maybe chalk it up to the fact that I was just so used to having Robert Englund as Freddy that the concept of someone new discomforted me. Admittedly, I would have preferred a remake with Englund in the lead, but I was also (somewhat) open to seeing a fresh face – and Jackie Earle Haley initially seemed like an interesting choice. I’m not exactly sure why Haley was chosen to play the new pedophile Freddy. Maybe it was because he had experience playing a pedophile in the past (2006’s “Little Children”) or because he looks like a creepy guy who might hang around playgrounds after school is out for the day. I think it was solely for the sake of credibility. Haley is an Academy Award nominated actor, I guess that really couldn’t hurt the movie in the long run and it also helped garner a lot of buzz as soon as Haley was announced. In my opinion, however, Haley was just one big waste of talent in this film. Maybe it was the script, maybe it wasn’t, but something just didn’t click with Haley’s portrayal of Krueger. Plus, despite Haley’s creepiness, he’s a fairly tiny/slim built man – maybe about half a foot shorter than Englund, which makes him much less menacing and much more creepy-weird-guy looking. So overall, not impressed with Haley’s performance as Krueger.
The movie starts off with mega “Twilight” star Kellan Lutz’s character (Dean – funny how that name is just one letter away from Dead) dreaming away the evening in some shitty all-night diner. He ends up encountering Freddy in a nightmare, wakes up to tell his girlfriend (Chris – who is basically the Tina character from the original film) about the nightmare, then falls asleep again and dies. Really it’s like a 10 minute segment that is unbelievably compact (kid has nightmare, escapes, has another nightmare, dies) and was in essence a waste of Kellan Lutz and a terrible introductory segment that gave all the goods up faster than a loose woman in Michael Bay’s limo on a Saturday night.
The rest of the teenagers in this film (some named after characters from the first two “A Nightmare on Elm Street” films) are boring, emo, and not in the least bit fun or as likable as the teenagers from the original. Give me Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp any day, Rooney Mara (Nancy) and Kyle Gallner (Quentin) are fucking terrible and literally soulless in this movie. The character development in this film basically surmounts to Quentin wearing a Joy Division shirt (oooo must mean he’s deep and gloomy) and Nancy painting dark pictures in her room with her headphones on (oooo must mean she’s deep and introverted). Hilariously (or sadly, I can’t decide which) there is a point where Nancy asks Quentin what his favorite colour is. Apparently it’s blue, but who seriously gives a fuck? If your script has zero character development, don’t bother shoving it in the audiences’ faces by giving us such a lame, almost mocking-the-audience line because it only makes the writer look like a fucking idiot. You know what my favorite colour is, Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer (writers of 2010’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street”)? Green. And I bet that’s your favorite colour too, because I think you were just hungering for the almighty green dollar bill when crafting this absolutely terrible script and a handful of absolutely transparent characters with the same amount of depth as a goddamn cardboard cutout, instead of focusing on developing a well written script and captivating characters with some hint of a personality. The script is so, so, so very bad… at one point Nancy argues with her mother over some fairly obvious piece of evidence regarding Freddy’ existence and it’s basically a “You’re lying!”, “No, I’m not!”, “Yes, you are!”, “No I’m not!”, “Yes, you are!”, “Okay, yes I lied” back and forth banter. I kid you not.
Virtually every classic scene from the original film is redone in this one, often without any consideration for the flow of the movie. The bathtub scene, the body bag scene, and Tina’s ceiling slashing kill scene are all resurrected in the new film, but it feels almost like they were just trying to photocopy the originals and tack on some additional crap to make it more “unique” or to spend the money in their CGI piggy bank. What they did was essentially rip off the best kills from the original and paste it into their terrible film. Without any of these borrowed bits and pieces, I assure you the remake wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
In the remake (and this is the film’s biggest problem and greatest disappointment) Freddy (formerly, Fred) Krueger is a child rapist who preyed upon the children at the preschool he worked for as a landscaper (do preschools really need full-time landscapers? Furthermore, landscapers who live in the building?) Immediately, this eliminates the necessity of the razor bladed glove, because he doesn’t use it during his… sigh… molestations, and he is often shown using a hand held garden rake instead. Hmmm… garden rake… groundskeeper at a school… sounds a lot like Groundskeeper Willy from The Simpson’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” parody, doesn’t it?
In fact, why is the razor blade glove even necessary? Apparently, Fred got his jollies from molesting kids while using his hand held garden rake to scratch them up – but why be such a careless pedophile? Didn’t he think one of the parents would see the marks on one of the kids and start asking questions? The point of the glove in the original was that it was Fred Krueger’s murder weapon of choice for his “children”. This movie makes the glove meaningless , they use the glove as more of a gimmick or a prop more than anything else really. It’s just there because it has to be, because it’s a part of the Freddy Krueger legacy. In fact in one scene, Nancy and Quentin investigate Krueger’s old lair under the old preschool, and find the glove just lying there… in plain sight… yeah, really. In the movie they make it out so that Freddy was murdered by the vengeful parents of the molested children, but what confuses me is why after Krueger’s disappearance, no one bothered to check through his creepy basement lair which is chock full of evidence clearly in plain sight (weapons, pictures, clothing, nude pictures of children etc.). Actually, poorly hidden evidence seems to be the theme of this movie, because the teenagers find evidence of their pasts almost too easily, to the point where you start wondering why a mother would keep the dress her daughter was raped in inside a childhood memories box in the attic (seriously). And why should Krueger concern himself with killing off the children he molested? Wouldn’t he want to just go ahead and kill the parents who murdered him? The movie tries to throw in a whole “what if Krueger was innocent?” subplot, but I swear to God, within 10-15 minutes of this possibility being discussed (a plausible one at least, because it explains why Freddy would come back to kill the kids if it was they who falsely accused him of rape) they discover creepy nude picture of Nancy as a child in Freddy’s lair and that basically destroys the last shred of this movie’s credibility. It’s basically like: “Freddy was a pedophile! Or was he just falsely accused as one?… No he was actually a pedophile…”
To add to the growing mound of Michael Bay’s shit problems inherent in this movie are the nightmare scenes. There were so many nightmare scenes placed intermittently throughout the movie, I actually became exceedingly thrilled when they started to show stuff that was happening in the real world. They also took the whole concept of micro-naps way, way, way too far. Some of these so called micro-naps (where you started having mini episodes of sleep due to being sleep deprived) didn’t even make any logical sense. In one of Nancy’s micro-naps she thinks Freddy is grabbing her legs as she crawls through a supermarket, in reality… she’s crawling through a supermarket. The micro-nap is less of a nightmare than it is a full out possession. Another stupid micro-nap scene occurs when Nancy and Quentin (who are driving in a car) witness Freddy jump into the middle of the road, and then swerve to avoid him, and then realize they had a micro-nap. What… the… fuck? Are you telling me they micro-napped together for a fucking millisecond and had a joint dream? Yeah I know something somewhat similar happened in the original film with Nancy and Glen sharing the same dream, but this goes far beyond that in terms of stupidity.
On the plus side (film has very few plus sides, unfortunately), some of the dream sequences aren’t too bad. The fact that they are directed by someone who works primarily in music videos is interesting to say the least because if anyone knows how to create choppy scenes with a lot of imagery in a short span of time, it would be a music video director. All of the nightmares taken from the original film are updated with CGI, but honestly, it still doesn’t look as awesome as the original, CGI-free movie.
And now possibly the worst thing about this movie: the Freddy jokes. Sure, a lot of them are darker, more edgy, more violent and some are pretty long-winded and cruel, but there’s a handful of jokes/quips that are downright disgusting. A lot of Freddy’s comments towards the girls have to deal with how great they look now that they’ve grown up or how certain childhood clothes they used to wear excited him. It’s pretty sick and twisted, and although the original Freddy is kind of a perv-ball to the ladies as well (see 1984’s “A Nightmare on Elm Street” or “Freddy vs. Jason” for proof) he certainly doesn’t talk about how children used to arouse him or how children whom he raped in the past have grown up to become “good-looking” teenage women.
The saddest thing of all is that this movie will likely not bomb at the box office. It will do well enough to warrant a sequel, and maybe even turn into a trilogy of shame. Jackie Earle Haley is reportedly signed on to do… sigh… two more “A Nightmare on Elm Street” films, so I guess we’ll be stuck with the dramatic look gopher as well. In conclusion, this is a terrible film and a wretched remake. I was actually offended by this movie, and it’s pretty hard to offend me considering I’ve seen some pretty fucked up and offensive movies in my lifetime (i.e. “Martyrs”) and will probably go see many more (i.e. “The Human Centipede”), but something as horrible as this is just a complete shame. To watch this movie is to witness the desecration of a horror icon. Shame on you Samuel Bayer, and I hope to one day spit on your grave Michael Bay!
Oh, and on a side note, check out what Samuel “I will suck off Michael Bay”er had to say about people like me in an issue of Fangoria magazine:
“‘Look, I’m gonna catch a lot of heat for this,” he begins. “But some of these fans on the web should just get up, stretch, breathe, go outside and get some fresh air, maybe get a girlfriend and just get a life. They should see the movie and make up their own minds.'”
First off Samuel, go fuck yourself. I get up to stretch and breathe plenty of times during the day. I work full-time, do school part-time, and live on my own. I also take transit to school and work, so I get “fresh air” plenty of times during the day. I also have a boyfriend and yeah, I have a life. Your movie is a piece of shit, and no amount of fresh air will cure that you asshole. I spent $13 of my hard-earned money to see your goddamn movie and my opinion about it is not too favorable. How about you keep my $13 and I keep my opinions? Sorry your movie turned out to be a steaming pile of shit. Better luck next time douchebag.
* Thanks to my boyfriend, ADJ, for this hilarious tag line idea.