Jackie Earle Haley

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) – A Review

This was a remake, of the classic 80s horror film. I’m not generally a fan of remakes. The overwhelming question that I find myself asking whenever watching one, is “Why?” I, honest to God, do not understand why people make them. It’s all be done before, and it invites inevitable comparisons with the original. And I can’t think of any remake that has outmatched the original (if you can, please do let me know via commenting). And given the rush of remakes at the moment, it seems that there’s some sort of originality drought going on, which is just perplexing. With the horror film remakes that have surged recently, particularly the Rob Zombie ones [which a) I initially thought this was one of, and b) were awful and unnecessary], it seems a particularly relevant issue in relation to this.

And so I entered this film with some preconceptions. Fortunately (or unfortunately, I suppose, depending on who you are) I saw this film at a preview screening immediately followed by the original, allowing for an easy comparison. The chief difference that I noticed, was that this new film takes itself terribly seriously. It replaces the self-mocking amusement value of the original, going instead for the seriously frightening atmosphere. And to be honest, I think it was probably a mistake.

Don’t get me wrong, it was jumpy in places, and I did like the ending (actually a good reinterpretation of the end of the original). But the problem it faced was that it was too predictable, and that’s a real downfall for a horror film trying to be scary. It’s not entirely Nightmare‘s fault, but rather something inherent to remakes. With an original film this popular, most people (particularly those who would be drawn by the title) have already seen the original, and know what happens. So unless it kicks the original plot into touch (which this doesn’t; instead clinging to with the same desperate insistence of a Scottish Nationalist to the idea that independence is a good idea), then it’s going to be handicapped on that level.

But moving away from remake bashing, for a moment, I’d like to take a moment to consider this film in its own right. And to be honest, it doesn’t do too well there. It’s main draw is a fantastic performance from Jackie Earle Haley, as the unmanicured villain. He was very good, and actually made one of the more comedic classic horror villains somewhat scary. Then again, that’s probably not a surprise to anyone who saw him in Watchmen.

Another of the acting points I want to comment on, is a young man by the name of Kyle Gallner. Now, I should point out that myself and Ashleigh are divided on this, but I didn’t like him. He was good in Haunting in Connecticut, as a cancer patient haunted by ghosts. He looked mournful, tragic, and genuinely ill. The trouble is that he looks the same even when playing other characters. He constantly looked sickly and like he was about to burst into tears, and the sheer pathos of his facial expression was a distraction for the entire duration of the film. Utterly pathetic might have flown in his first major film, but he’s been doing it for three films now, and it’s really getting old.

So in conclusion, what do I think? I didn’t like it. 80s horror films of the type of Nightmare on Elm Street were tongue in cheek, and it seems to detract when it takes itself too seriously. Aside from a carbon copy of the bath-hand scene, it didn’t use comedy at all, and suffered from typical problems of predictability. If you’re a fan of the original, you might want to give it a go for contrast’s sake, and if you’re the kind of moron who thinks “HORROR!” and laps it up regardless of quality, you’ve probably ignored everything I’ve just said. My advice, to be completely honest, is to buy the DVD of the original instead.