A Nightmare on Elm Street
April 30, 2010
Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer
Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger
Kyle Gallner as Quentin Smith
Rooney Mara as Nancy Holbrook
Katie Cassidy as Kris Fowles
Thomas Dekker as Jesse Braun
By Horror Queen
The much anticipated A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 remake fails to live up to our expectations, and this Freddy Krueger may be new, but he’s far from improved.
When Wes Craven began what would grow to be the third largest horror film franchise in history with his 1984 original A Nightmare on Elm Street, audiences flocked to the theatre to see this low-budget thriller. Why? Because after a slew of Halloween and Friday the 13th sequels, they were thirsting for a different kind of horror icon and fell square into the arms of Freddy Krueger, the dead pedophile child-murderer returned to kill teenagers in their dreams. And unlike his predecessors, Freddy had a sort of odd charm about him – cracking one-liners, flashing his steak-knife clad fingers and popping up in the strangest places.
Today’s Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010, played by Jackie Earle Haley (Little Children,Shutter Island) in place of the role’s originator Robert Englund, fails to evoke either the fear or the fondness we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. This is not a reflection on Haley’s performance but the result of a pedestrian script and characters we don’t root for as we did the original Nancy Thompson and Glen Lantz (played by Johnny Depp). What’s true of Samuel Bayer’s film is true of many 70’s and 80’s remakes – character building is sacrificed for the immediate gratification of jolts and scares via modern-day effects.
To its credit A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 is not just an attempted remake – it’s an ‘encapsulation’ of the franchise, a phrase coined by Don Sumner, Founder and Editor-in-Chief ofBest-horror-movies.com and author of Horror Movie Freak. An encapsulation by Sumner’s definition is a film whose original version spawned several sequels and whose villain, in this case Freddy Krueger, is the real star of the show. An encapsulation acknowledges the secrets revealed throughout the series and incorporates them into the remake.
‘A curious thing happens when movie after movie is made surrounding the same horror villain,’ points out Sumner, ‘the horror-loving audience learns more and more about the background, motivations, family and goals of the dreaded doer of despair. These details become part of the mystique of the character, giving him a depth that becomes part of popular culture.’
The encapsulation method of the horror movie remake is new and really began with Friday the 13th (2009). Jason Voorhees was merely a last minute mention in the original Friday the 13th, and didn’t begin his own killing spree until Friday the 13th Part 2. Then, in Friday the 13th Part IIIJason dons the infamous hockey mask for the first time. A remake of the original sans Jason and with no hockey mask in sight, in light of all that has transpired over the years, wouldn’t make any sense at all. But the encapsulation method enables all common knowledge about the character to be pulled together into one gut-slicing remake. It is really the purest form of making classic horror accessible to a new generation. There is nothing boring about encapsulations which tend to move quickly with gory precision. No need to labor over explaining this detail or that as everybody knows the score walking into the theater. Simply acknowledge the facts and move on to the slaughter.
So there you have it. The A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 that could have been. And yes, the film does move on to the slaughter, but that’s about all it does. It’s also much less of an encapsulation than Friday the 13th (2009) in that it generally mirrors the plot of Craven’s 1984 film. Flashbacks of Freddy’s mortal life however, are featured, revealing him as the twisted child molester he is, something that didn’t happen until a later sequel. And frankly, there’s nothing more intensely vulgar than one of the last scenes in the film where Freddy’s sleazy pedophile side comes shining through no holds barred, finally giving Haley a chance to revel in his character’s darkness.
It’s too bad this happens at the end of the film.