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Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

04.29.2010by: Eric Walkuski

YOU CAN ALSO READ CHRIS BUMBRAY'S REVIEW OF THE FILM HERE
Expect Arrow's review to pop up over the weekend...

PLOT:The peculiar and violent death of a classmate prompts a group of teenagers to investigate their suddenly terrifying dreams, all of which contain the same ominous figure: A scarred man with a fedora, striped sweater and the world's most f*cked up gardening glove. They soon discover that these troubling nightmares can cause more damage than just sleep deprivation.

REVIEW: Let's cut to the chase: The new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET is neither as bad as you might have feared, nor as good as you might have hoped. It's a workmanlike effort, never diverging too far from its source material and made with some skill and not much heart. The fact that a horror movie about a ghostly serial killer who mercilessly slashes teens doesn't have heart could be construed as beneficial to its dark spirit, but to me it's that lack of heart that pins this ELM STREET down as a cold product, not the movie brimming with energy that it should be (and the original was). Of course coming from Platinum Dunes this is no surprise, as all of the company's remakes have the glossy, too-clean tinge of Hollywood that the gritty, crafty originals do not.

To be fair, Sam Bayer's NIGHTMARE doesn't shame the title, nor does it shit on the 1984 classic; in fact, it's one of Platinum Dunes' best films. (Not saying much, but still...) It's more reminiscent of the company's versions of THE HITCHER and AMITYVILLE HORROR, which were straight-up remakes, as opposed to FRIDAY THE 13TH and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, which took pages from the books of their precursors but basically told their own stories. This is much, much better than the dumb, tedious FRIDAY remake that we received last year, but it lacks the admirable "anything goes" nastiness of the first TEXAS CHAINSAW that Michael Bay and Co. have not been able to replicate since.

To contrast and compare it to the original plotwise would be redundant (they're essentially the same movie on that score), so lets just talk aesthetics. To judge it on its own terms is to immediately confront the new ELM STREET's most glaring weakness: a lack of imagination and surprise. Something the best films in the series did (NEW NIGHTMARE included) was lull you, as it does its characters, into a false reality. The most unsettling dreams began when we didn't realize they were dreams - the characters would continue on with their normal routines until subtle, unnerving hints of something amiss made themselves known. And then we'd go full blast into a bizarro dream world. This ELM STREET telegraphs every dream sequence from the get-go, hence you're aware right away - via creepy music, hazy lighting, weird noises, etc - that you're in a character's nightmare. No fun... Furthermore, Bayer does very little new with these dreams. We're still in boiler rooms, eerie classrooms, musty basements and the like. No envelope is pushed, visually or conceptually; a visionary retelling of the tale this is not. We get exactly what we expect. Not to mention, a couple of sequences play out almost identically to the way they do in the original.

For his part, Jackie Earle Haley is probably the most enjoyable aspect of the film. His Freddy Krueger comes as advertised: a grim, sour, sinewy creep who murmurs with an angry drawl and doesn't have much time for jokes. (He does get a few in, mostly later in the film, but they're of the glib and bitter variety as opposed to Robert Englund's pun-heavy backslappers.) Making him even more grotesque, this Freddy has an added layer of sexual deviance (he was burned because he was allegedly a child molester) that is fairly off-putting, for better or worse. Haley makes Freddy his own, no doubt, but original ELM STREET purists have nothing to worry about; Englund's grinning, demonic bully won't be forgotten anytime soon - just as Rooney Mara's humdrum Nancy isn't even in the same ballpark as Heather Langenkamp's endearing take on the character. The other young actors barely strike a chord, although there's some reliable veteran work from Clancy Brown and Connie Britton as two of the children's' parents (and perpetrators of Freddy's death).

So is this visit to ELM STREET worth taking? No, if you're already prepared to hate it. If you're open to it being an adequately faithful retelling with the caveat that almost nothing fresh brought forth, then you might find yourself reasonably, if not pleasantly, entertained. Still, those of you who have been moaning "I'll be better off staying home and watching the original" will not get a forceful argument from me...

6/10

Extra Tidbit: A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET opens on APRIL 30th.

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3:32PM on 05/01/2010

About what I expected.......

*Spoilers* I didn't like this film as much as this reviewer. There were a few scenes that were cool, and Jamie Earl Haley was definitely trying to make his Freddy memorable I think.

The script is the real negative culprit here, with poorly conceived protagonists and a formulaic reboot story. Not to mention an ending which all I can say, needed to be thought through a little better for sure.

In the end, a bit of a let down for die hard slasher film fans like myself(don't even get me
*Spoilers* I didn't like this film as much as this reviewer. There were a few scenes that were cool, and Jamie Earl Haley was definitely trying to make his Freddy memorable I think.

The script is the real negative culprit here, with poorly conceived protagonists and a formulaic reboot story. Not to mention an ending which all I can say, needed to be thought through a little better for sure.

In the end, a bit of a let down for die hard slasher film fans like myself(don't even get me started on RZ's Halloweens). 2 out of 4 stars
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12:13AM on 05/01/2010
I can see from reading, that most will not agree. But I loved it, it got better as it went along.

While not perfect, it was very different and unique. I dare say it was the most disturbing Elm St, since the original. Haley was a different Freddy and for that I applaud him. He gave a fresh feeling. It was a more realistic and twisted approach to the series. The jokes were more sinister...."Sounds like fun." That was a great scene, cracked up at that big time.

It paid homage to scenes
I can see from reading, that most will not agree. But I loved it, it got better as it went along.

While not perfect, it was very different and unique. I dare say it was the most disturbing Elm St, since the original. Haley was a different Freddy and for that I applaud him. He gave a fresh feeling. It was a more realistic and twisted approach to the series. The jokes were more sinister...."Sounds like fun." That was a great scene, cracked up at that big time.

It paid homage to scenes from the original but didn't try to duplicate it or copy it AT ALL. It was very well done, the acting was surprisingly good, the kills were so-so, but brutal and intense.

It did drag a little bit, with the hospital scene and pharmacy, but I loved the ending. Gotta respect the cave, and the silence of the lambs approach by not showing the photos. I can't say how much I enjoyed it because I tend to dislike most of these recent remakes.

8/10.....well done.
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-1
11:04AM on 04/30/2010

I'm back

The only thing I'll retract is the "won't be coming back" comment seeing as I'm here again. I do like this site alot but damn if I don't feel let down when a film like this gets a pass.
Thanks for the sanity check danievil.
The only thing I'll retract is the "won't be coming back" comment seeing as I'm here again. I do like this site alot but damn if I don't feel let down when a film like this gets a pass.
Thanks for the sanity check danievil.
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4:44AM on 04/30/2010

Are you kidding?!

Did we see the same film? To each his own, but this movie had "FAIL" all over it. This movie gets a "NO" out of 10 in my book. Worst movie of 2010...and it's only April!!! Bah!
Did we see the same film? To each his own, but this movie had "FAIL" all over it. This movie gets a "NO" out of 10 in my book. Worst movie of 2010...and it's only April!!! Bah!
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7:27PM on 04/29/2010
I'm seeing this tonight at midnight. I'm very cautiously optimistic. Its Thursday night so hopefully the theater won't be full of annoying teenagers.
I'm seeing this tonight at midnight. I'm very cautiously optimistic. Its Thursday night so hopefully the theater won't be full of annoying teenagers.
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+0
5:16PM on 04/29/2010

still going to go see it

Other than Freddy Vs. Jason, I haven't enjoyed going back to Elm Street the last couple times, so I welcome a remake/reboot but I worry about seeing too much "human" Freddy. What made him scary as fuck the first time I saw the first Nightmare On Elm Street, I loved that we didn't know anything about this crazy fucker at all...I even went into the movie knowing zero about it (way before this thing called the Internet ;-)). I hated when Freddy went from scary boogeyman to gameshow host of death.
Other than Freddy Vs. Jason, I haven't enjoyed going back to Elm Street the last couple times, so I welcome a remake/reboot but I worry about seeing too much "human" Freddy. What made him scary as fuck the first time I saw the first Nightmare On Elm Street, I loved that we didn't know anything about this crazy fucker at all...I even went into the movie knowing zero about it (way before this thing called the Internet ;-)). I hated when Freddy went from scary boogeyman to gameshow host of death. I want the old, scary MFer Freddy back. Here's to hoping this does well enough for a sequel and some good old fashioned scares. I'm kind of tired of comedy with my horror.
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5:09PM on 04/29/2010

thank u

its what i expected. im glad that freddy himself is the best part of the film. the young ones are just fodder anyway. id like to know what ur opinion on the dream scenes were? they all lacked originality? on second thought, i'll figure it out myself when i see it sometime. i'll just skip the midnight showing and make it a midafternoon event! kudos for the review! and someone contact zeebee's parole officer, he seems to be hitting the whack pipe again.
its what i expected. im glad that freddy himself is the best part of the film. the young ones are just fodder anyway. id like to know what ur opinion on the dream scenes were? they all lacked originality? on second thought, i'll figure it out myself when i see it sometime. i'll just skip the midnight showing and make it a midafternoon event! kudos for the review! and someone contact zeebee's parole officer, he seems to be hitting the whack pipe again.
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4:15PM on 04/29/2010
This sounds good to me. I'm hoping it will make decent money and get a fresh sequel, presenting a new story with some new dream-sequences.
This sounds good to me. I'm hoping it will make decent money and get a fresh sequel, presenting a new story with some new dream-sequences.
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3:34PM on 04/29/2010
i expected that, well its a good thing i smoke tons of pot.. and ya the descent 2 was shit out of my asss!
i expected that, well its a good thing i smoke tons of pot.. and ya the descent 2 was shit out of my asss!
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3:13PM on 04/29/2010

Oh Well

I'm still going to see it, because I love the series. I'm going in with no expectations at all. There's no way it's going to be worse than some of the other shit I've seen in theaters, so who really cares? I just want to have funny seeing Freddy on the big screen again!

I have no doubt that JEH put his all into the charcter, because he's a class act. If anything, I'm seeing it to support him.

Just for the record . . . I went back an rewatched the original Elm Street. If you really go
I'm still going to see it, because I love the series. I'm going in with no expectations at all. There's no way it's going to be worse than some of the other shit I've seen in theaters, so who really cares? I just want to have funny seeing Freddy on the big screen again!

I have no doubt that JEH put his all into the charcter, because he's a class act. If anything, I'm seeing it to support him.

Just for the record . . . I went back an rewatched the original Elm Street. If you really go back and view it objectively, you'll see that it had some flaws as well. The ending is pretty lame ("I take back all the power I gave you." Really? And if Nancy had the power to pull Freddy from her dreams, why wasn't he pulled out when he and Nancy were fighting in front of Glen?) If you really go back and nitpick, I'm sure you'd find other things to bitch about. So, while this enstallment may be REALLY flawed, hopefully it serves a better purpose for the sequal, which we all know is going to happen.
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11:31AM on 04/29/2010

Integrity

You sir are a fraud. 6 out of 10! How very dare you. Funny I don't see paid banners for NOES on the site. Your Descent 2 review also screamed plant. For shame I say. No wonder garbage like this gets made when sites like yours actually try and justify it. Will not be coming back.
You sir are a fraud. 6 out of 10! How very dare you. Funny I don't see paid banners for NOES on the site. Your Descent 2 review also screamed plant. For shame I say. No wonder garbage like this gets made when sites like yours actually try and justify it. Will not be coming back.
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12:45PM on 04/29/2010
That's funny, I don't remember writing a Descent 2 review...
That's funny, I don't remember writing a Descent 2 review...
12:50PM on 04/29/2010
Blows my mind that some folks can\'t UNDERSTAND that we all have opinions and that\'s all we do here, we share it. Agree, disagree, all good. No frauds here, just fan opinion...AITH is integrity...whatever man...
Blows my mind that some folks can\'t UNDERSTAND that we all have opinions and that\'s all we do here, we share it. Agree, disagree, all good. No frauds here, just fan opinion...AITH is integrity...whatever man...
10:21AM on 04/29/2010
This is everything I feared. Thanks for letting me down easy, Mr. Walkuski.
This is everything I feared. Thanks for letting me down easy, Mr. Walkuski.
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+0
10:07AM on 04/29/2010
DULL and uninventive,lacking heart,basically every flick in the series since the original!!I'LL UNDOUBTEDLY be there tomorrow P.M.,hoping like everyone else, that some respectability can be brought back to a series that 'coulda' , 'woulda', 'shoulda' been legendary,but instead, is merely another franchise that veers so far from it's original ideas that one is left wondering what the appeal was to begin with!
DULL and uninventive,lacking heart,basically every flick in the series since the original!!I'LL UNDOUBTEDLY be there tomorrow P.M.,hoping like everyone else, that some respectability can be brought back to a series that 'coulda' , 'woulda', 'shoulda' been legendary,but instead, is merely another franchise that veers so far from it's original ideas that one is left wondering what the appeal was to begin with!
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9:56AM on 04/29/2010

Great review!

Awesome review Eric and it's pretty much what I expected from this movie. Dull and uninventive.
Awesome review Eric and it's pretty much what I expected from this movie. Dull and uninventive.
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