Nightmare on Elm Street... ...2010!
It was basically an example of every generic horror film released in the last 7 or 8 years. Although it had a budget of $30 million, this movie could have been released as direct-to-video horror film in the bargain bin of any Wal-Mart store, and probably should have. It was no better or worse than Megashark vs. Giant Octopus, the Day of the Dead remake, or The Hills Have Eyes 2. Is it worth $2.99 to own forever on DVD? Maybe. Is it worth $10 to see once in a theater? Oh my, no.
The comparisons to the original almost aren't necessary. It's basically the same story as the original, but with inevitable upgrades to internet culture that every remake feels it needs to include, in order to validate the remake for teenagers who don't understand the concept of a movie released before the year 2000. Then throw in several blatantly stolen shots from the 1984 version (claw in the bathtub, girl in the body bag, Freddy coming through the wallpaper, etc. [there are several others I noticed too]) and execute all of those blatantly stolen elements with less effectiveness (and in several cases, bad CGI).
But again, to compare this with the original would be pointless. I know it's all a matter of opinion, but the original Nightmare on Elm Street was definitively better. There's no question. But Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 can be considered a below average film without even mentioning the original.
And it all seems to stem down to bad writing and directing. I won't delve into the acting too much, even though it appears as if everyone thought good acting was just talking at a whisper (many scenes played out with laughably bad low-talking). If one would like to create a remake of a movie, you'd hope the guys remaking it would watch the original, then do everything in their power to improve upon it... This remake was counterproductive, as they actually managed to dumb down an 80s slasher film! They took a horror film that takes place inside dreams, a world in which literally anything can happen, and they did absolutely nothing with it. It might have possibly been the most uncreative use of dream sequences in the history of film. And that's odd to say, because 75% of the movie is dream sequences. This movie is basically an excuse to have a dream sequence every 3 minutes. But nothing imaginative happens in the dreams (the most creative thing they did was make it snow inside a bedroom, for about 8 seconds). Then they introduce the concept of "micro-naps" which basically means the characters don't even have to knowingly fall asleep in order to dream. So a character can be literally walking in a parking lot and start to get attacked by Freddy, in a sleep he didn't know he was in. This eliminates all suspense in the movie, as at the tip of a hat, you expect to be startled by Freddy for no reason at any time. I became numb to it, and overall it became dull. This movie is the equivalent of walking through the haunted house at Six Flags Great America during Fright Fest. Cheap scares with no lasting effect, and you forget about it about 30 minutes later when you're doing anything else.
50% of the dream sequences are less than 2 minutes long, and have no actual bearing on the story. They are simply there to give a "jump-scare" to the audience. It's a cheap, cheap movie with no real substance until the last 15 minutes. And those last 15 minutes aren't exactly enlightening. But that is what the purpose of the movie is I suppose. I guess its major defense is that it probably knows it's a stupid movie that only consists of "jump-scares" accompanied by 2 second bursts of loud music (pretty much as cliche as possible), but it's hard to understand why there are so few horror movies with genuinely creepy moments anymore.
Then I had dinner at my parents house on Sunday, and my 16 year old niece was there as well. She has apparently seen both the new one and the original. I give her credit for being a 16 year old girl who watches Nightmare on Elm Street, but when the subject came up at dinner she said she "thought the first one was stupid and not scary, it didn't make me jump at all...". That's when I realized that times have officially changed (took me long enough, huh?). There is apparently a large demographic that thinks these kinds of new horror movies are actually the gold standard for how a horror film should be.
There have always been "jump-scares" throughout the history of horror films, but no movie should make that their main goal. A good horror movie should make you scared to walk from your car to your house at night after the movie, should make you scared to turn off your lights, make you not want to open your eyes while you're lying in the pitch black of your bedroom in deep thought. These newer remakes, like Nightmare on Elm Street, are just a 90 minute sugar rush with no lasting effect. You could make the argument of "Hey, at least it's fun!", but this movie, along with most horror films of the 2000s, are almost completely devoid of comedy. I almost hate to say it, but the teen slasher films of the late 1990s (Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, etc) we're in retrospect WAY more fun than any of the over-serious, torture heavy films of the last couple years. Yeah the 90s slasher films also relied on "jump scares" (which is why I don't like them that much) but they were at least a little light-hearted in their twisted mayhem. Throw in a few intentional laughs here and there, c'mon!
I'm a young guy still, so I hate being grouped with other young people who validate the Saw franchise as definitive modern horror. There are of course exceptions, and several great horror films have been released in the last decade, but none of them were remakes, that's for sure. And none of them relied on cheap audience-startling as their sole purpose of existence.
I know these kinds of movies make a lot of money (even from me, hey, I like to give things a chance!), but every horror remake of the 2000s combined, doesn't have the same ability to scar children's minds forever like the corny 1990 ABC mini-series Stephen King's It. I'm still scared of clowns...!
This reminds me of the remake of "Psycho" or the other movies Rob Zombie tried re-making. If you re-make it shot-for-shot, and the original was pretty good, what's really the point?
See or hear the piece on NPR today about how modern tech like cell phones makes it harder to do a logical horror movie? Has a fun montage of excuses for getting the phones out of the way. Seems to me it would be scarier to keep the phones working and integrate them into the story, so every time it goes off, it scares you, because it could be used by the big bad as the conduit to get you, but you daer not turn it off becasue you also need it to win whatever the goal is.
Remakes must be perceived by studios as "cheap to make" because there is no originality needed, and everyone knows creativity is what costs so much money. LOL.
I did not understand why Gus van Zandt did his shot for shot remake of Psycho. I did not see it. His other movies are quite good however.
Freddy was as much an icon of the 80's as Pac Man, the Rubik's cube, Jason and Mr. T. But in hind sight, looking at what was popular 20 years ago always seems to be a let down.
What I do not like about current horror films is they seem to have become gross-out films. Because we have the technology and the MPAA leniency to show copious amounts of blood and violent acts - there is little left to the imagination. What was so groundbreaking about Psycho was that it did not show the actual violent act, but it scared the heck out of people. Nowadays the goal seems to be to gross people out vs scaring them. Scared and nauseous are not the same thing. Maybe gross is what today's 18-35 male audience wants to see, and gross should make Betty-Sue hold your hand just as tightly as scared used to do, so it's all good with 18-35 year old males.
Give me a good scare, save the blood. I get plenty of that at work!
Best XXI century remake of an horror film?
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
That's how an old story should be re-told, in my opinion.
I'm a big fan of Freddy, so it's sad for me to read about this bad remake.
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I would say the best Horror re-make was John Carpenter's take on Howard Hawks' "The Thing" (from another world). Carpenter is supposedly in pre-production for a prequel to that movie that starred Kurt Russel. Why, I don't know; we really don't need that story.
Mike, I take your point about studios and their reasoning for remakes. Its not that they think creativity (really, "originality") is more expensive, just that they all believe that what is proven to have worked before, should work again, and that's safer than betting millions on something brand new and untested.
What they don't consider though, is that banking on a built-in audience for a re-make property assumes the old audience was somehow frozen in carbonite, waiting to be thawed out and re-animated to appreciate the new film in the new context of today in the same way they did then. Doesn't usually happen.
Last week or so we talked here about The Deer Hunter and how deadly slow today's audiences consider it to be. Same thing if you re-make a movie and just copy-paste everything, ignoring that the audience has evolved and been replaced since the original, and that history and society have changed, so our whole way of relating to the film changes.
The New Karate Kid remake movie is a case in point. The original was damn near perfect, and the actors OWNED those roles ("SWEEP THE LEG, JOHNNY!" " "One must have barance in rife, Daniel-San, now, yosh, wax-on, wax-off!")
You are just not going to be able to re-capture those unique mixtures in the same way again. It might be different and worth it to start with the same premise and throw an entirely different intepretation onto it. That is why people keep re-doing Shakespeare plays set in different situations and never get tired.
Copy-paste usually fails. A jazz riff on an old theme has potential.
Hollywood execs don't do jazz; they want a piano-player roll, every time.
Yeah that is usually why remakes end up failing, because they painstakingly try and copy exact moments of magic from the original. But it's impossible to try and copy such golden moments, they SHOULD theoretically just happen naturally. And if they don't happen naturally, then the movie will probably be without great moments, and likely not that great overall.
That's why Fernando is correct by saying Dawn of the Dead 2004 remake was one of the best remakes of this past decade, because it just took the concept of the original (zombies in a mall), and then did it's own (mostly) original take on it (plus it was shot really well).
But it seems like people didn't used to have problems making horror remakes, in the 70s and 80s the remakes from even earlier horror films seemed great and full of exciting new ideas based off the base concept of the original [The Thing, The Fly, etc]. People just have trouble making them nowadays, probably partly because of what Mike was saying, that everything is all about the gross-out lately. Saw and Hostel have slightly ruined horror movies ever since they came out.
The Fly remake with Jeff Goldblum and Gina Davis was one of my favorites. I always thought the writer and director were going for an allegory to the then very topical AIDS epidemic, and how people related to those striken by it.
Then they re-made the sequel and it was pretty predictably lame.
FYI, they made a horror movie a few years ago called Pulse, in which ghosts or demons or something attacked people through mobile phone technology... Sadly, it was god awful. Also sadly, it got a wide theatrical release, and even MORE sadly I saw it in theaters...!
Plus I believe it was a remake of a Japanese horror movie from maybe 2 years before it. AMERICANIZATION FAIL.