Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz, Clancy Brown
Wesley Strick (and story), Eric Heisserer, Wes Craven (characters)
Welcome to Your New Nightmare.
Five teenage friends living on one street all dream of a sinister man with a disfigured face, a frightening voice and a gardener's glove with knives for fingers. One by one, he terrorizes them within their dreams - where the rules are his and the only way out is to wake up. But when one among them dies, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens for real and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake. Buried in their past is a debt that has just come due. To save themselves, they must plunge into the mind of the most twisted nightmare of all: Freddy Krueger. Jackie Earle Haley plays the legendary evildoer in this contemporary reimagining of the seminal horror classic.
$32.902 million on 3332 screens.
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 95 min.
Release Date: 10/5/2010
• “WB Maniacal Movie Mode”
• 7 Focus Points
• “Freddy Krueger Reborn” Featurette
• Additional Footage
• Digital Copy/Standard DVD
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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.
A Nightmare On Elm Street [Blu-Ray] (2010)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 10, 2010)
In the past, I’ve opined that I like remakes of horror movies – but usually when the original flick wasn’t good. On the occasions the source material worked just fine in the first place, the remake has hit tougher sledding.
Such was the case with 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. Since the 1984 original still does the job, the prospect of a remake makes less sense. Still, I figured it deserved a look – maybe it would offer a pleasant surprise that would give the franchise new life.
Expect very similar storylines. High school student Dean Russell (Kellan Lutz) complains of nightmares and goes days without sleep. In an apparent trance, he slits his own throat at a diner.
His girlfriend Kris Fowles (Katie Cassidy) witnesses this and starts to find some odd surprises such as the apparent fact that she and Dean knew each other in Kindergarten; she thought they didn’t meet until much later. When she pokes around, she learns that others are having nightmares as well, and these all seem to revolve around a strange evil dude named Fred Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley). Many deaths ensue – and eventually classmate Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara) picks up the trail of the mysterious Krueger.
Like some others, I went into the Nightmare remake with a feeling of guarded optimism due to one factor: the presence of Haley. A few years ago, he made a nice comeback from utter obscurity with his Oscar-nominated performance in Little Children. Haley followed this with a few other parts in prominent pictures, and he made a good impression in 2009’s Watchmen.
I thought Haley was probably the best thing about Watchmen, so I was curious to see what he would do with an iconic role like Krueger. The answer: not much, though I can’t really blame Haley. The film submerges him under surprisingly poor makeup and also alters his voice to adopt a low Dark Knight-style roar.
Granted, his Watchmen character used a similar effect, so maybe Haley feels he needs some embellishment to add power to his characters. I would disagree; I’d think he could handle the part without the added vocal effects, and if he couldn’t, maybe another actor should be cast.
To some degree, any actor who plays Krueger gets stuck in a no-win situation. He’s unusual in the genre’s pantheon, as most horror icons lack real identification with one particular actor. Sure, the super-fans know who played Leatherface, Jason and Michael Myers, but that’s about it; the original actors could be – and were – replaced with ease.
That’s not the case with the iconic Krueger. One can argue about which of the various modern-era horror characters is the best/scariest/most malevolent/whatever, but I think it’d be tough to find another as closely associated with one actor. In fact, off the top of my head, it’s difficult to come up with a famous monster we attach so tightly to one performer since the days of Lugosi and Karloff. I guess if we count roles like Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates, the discussion would become more difficult, but I never really thought of those as “monster” characters ala the mythical dudes in Nightmare, Friday the 13th, Halloween or the old Universal horrors.
Anyway you look at it, Englund presented big shoes to fill, and Haley can’t live up to his predecessor. I remain unconvinced anyone could’ve successfully recreated Freddy, though; Englund so embodied the character’s mix of menace and humor that it’d be tough for someone new to make the part his own.
I suspect the 2010 Freddy would’ve worked best as a “new character” if the film went totally for terror and lacked the role’s comedic beats. Granted, that still wouldn’t make him truly “new”, as the 1984 film’s Krueger wasn’t the wacky jokester seen in the sequels; he had some creepy one-liners but hadn’t turned into a burned-up Lucille Ball yet.
The 2010 Freddy does echo the original movie’s darker character, but not enough to make him unique. Indeed, he feels pretty similar to the 1984 Krueger, as he throws out occasional dark jokes but not a ton of them.
Even the few we get seem to be too many, just because they ensure that we constantly compare Haley to Englund. If the 2010 flick went with a totally dark, relentlessly evil Freddy, I think the desire to continuously examine Haley’s performance would lessen, but since this Nightmare so consciously echoed the original, the comparisons remained inevitable.
While the 2010 flick isn’t a beat-by-beat remake of the 1984 movie ala the 1998 Psycho, it doesn’t do enough to separate itself from the older flick. As I stated at the start, the most interesting remakes come from new versions of bad movies; those can take interesting themes/subject matter and improve upon it.
But what do you do when the source material still works pretty well? Sure, some parts of the 1984 Nightmare seem dated, and the production values could use some improvement, but it’s still an effective experience. It lacks the cheesy and/or amateurish elements that harm efforts like the original Last House on the Left.
So why bother to remake it? Money, I suppose, and maybe the filmmakers really thought they could bring something new to the table. They do change some things, but enough stays the same to make the new film feel redundant.
Which doesn’t make it bad, but it sure doesn’t make it good, either. Yes, it comes with superior production values, though the visual effects can be awfully dodgy; in particular, we find quite a few cheap-looking computer generated elements.
And Freddy’s makeup is a notable distraction. Apparently the filmmakers decided to go with a more realistic depiction of a burn victim. Great – but why? This is a horror fantasy; I see no need for anything that looks particularly “real”, especially when it means that our Freddy always resembles a guy in a mask. Rather than horrify us, Krueger’s makeup just makes us take the character less seriously.
The various young actors do nothing to help, as they’re generally pretty anonymous. Our new Nancy is certainly a shell of the original. Heather Langenkamp wasn’t the Second Coming of Streep, but she embodied the part well and made Nancy an able heroine.
Nancy 2010 loses the original’s nice girl next door vibe and becomes a loner artiste. Not a good move, as this just makes Nancy dull and without much personality. However, that might just be a reflection of Mara’s flat performance than anything else. She can muster a vague deer in the headlights expression but not much else, so Nancy never turns into a memorable character.
And I can’t say that anything else about the 2010 Nightmare stands out in a positive way either. Again, I wouldn’t call it a bad film, as it seems competent and never crosses a line into territory that would make it less than watchable. It just seems somewhat pointless and lacks the inventiveness of the original.
The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio A-/ Bonus B
A Nightmare on Elm Street appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. While not as consistent as I’d like, the image usually worked well.
Sharpness created the most apparent occasional concern. Though the majority of the flick offered strong definition and clarity, a few elements seemed oddly soft. For instance, when we saw Nancy and Quentin at the library, the two-shots displayed a lack of delineation. Still, those examples remained infrequent, as most of the movie was concise.
I noticed no issues with jaggies, and only a little shimmering occurred; this popped up in a stack of plates at the diner. No issues with artifacts, edge haloes or source flaws appeared. The image offered a good film-like impression and lacked defects.
After an opening with some intense/garish hues, the rest of Nightmare usually tended toward a rather cool palette that went along with most other modern horror flicks. This meant a general aqua tint to most scenes; some exceptions popped up, but expect the blue-green tone to dominate. I’d prefer a more creative sense of colors, but these looked fine within thir restrictions. Blacks were deep and tight, and most shadows showed good clarity. The assault on Krueger was a bit thick, but other low-light sequences offered nice visuals. Overall, I felt pleased with the transfer; the minor flaws made it a “B”, but it was usually quite good.
More consistent pleasures came from the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Expect an aggressive mix, and the nightmares meant that the audio became more creative than usual for a horror movie. The track used the surround channels actively, especially when we got into the dreamworld; elements swirled around the room and immersed us in the action well. General ambience was also good, and the score used the front speakers in a satisfying manner. The whole shebang fit together smoothly to create a satisfying sonic impression.
Audio quality was also strong. Expect some heavy bass here, as the various effects gave my subwoofer a workout. Low-end was deep and firm; no boominess or problems accompanied the bass response.
Speech was natural and distinctive; I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music showed good range and clarity, while effects were concise and full. I thought the audio helped embellish the events in a positive manner.
Among the extras, the set’s big attraction comes from Maniacal Movie Mode. This provides a picture-in-picture feature that shows shots from the set as well as interviews with various participants. We hear from producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, director Samuel Bayer, costume designer Mari-An Ceo, production designer Patrick Lumb, screenwriter Eric Heisserer, executive producer Mike Drake, director of photography Jeff Cutter, special effects coordinator Jeff Milinac, stunt coordinator Kurt Bryant, and actors Jackie Earle Haley, Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker, and Katie Cassidy.
They discuss the franchise reboot and adapting the material for the remake, cast and performances, characters and themes, sets and locations, costumes, makeup and various effects, the script and deleted scenes, stunts and staging “kills”, cinematography, and some other elements.
“Maniacal” offers a decent but not great picture-in-picture commentary. To be sure, it throws in some good information, so we get a reasonably nice look at the film’s creation. However, it goes dead a little too often, as we find more than a few gaps between comments. It’s still got more than enough material to merit your attention, though.
Viewable through “Maniacal” or on their own, the disc includes seven Focus Points. We find “Makeup Makes the Character” (3:34), “Micronaps” (2:38), “The Hat” (2:31), “Practical Fire” (2:32), “The Sweater” (2:20), “The Glove” (2:24), and “The Victims” (3:51). We get comments from Haley, Bayer, Drake, Fuller, Heisserer, Form, Dekker, Ceo, Cutter, Milinac, Lutz, Cassidy, special makeup effects designer Andrew Clement, co-producer John Rickard, special effects’ Joe Mack, property master William Dambra and actors Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara. These examine costumes and makeup, some effects, issues related to sleep deprivation, props, and characters.
The “Focus Points” help flesh out topics discussed in “Maniacal”. It doesn’t do much to delve into many new subjects, but it manages to add some broader perspectives. That makes the clips worth a look.
Another featurette called Freddy Krueger Reborn goes for 13 minutes, 54 seconds and includes Bayer, Heisserer, Mara, Dekker, Fuller, Rickard, Drake, Gallner, Form, Haley, Lutz, Cutter, and Clement. The show looks at various elements related to the reinvention of Freddy. Much of this info pops up via the other pieces, but it offers a decent synopsis.
Three pieces of Additional Footage appear. We discover “Hospital Opening” (1:11), “Nightmare Street” (0:58) and “Alternate Ending” (6:12). In “Hospital”, we see a pre-credits death for a mysterious patient who we assume is Freddy. “Street” finds Nancy and Quentin in one of Freddy’s scary dream worlds, while “Ending” features a vision of Freddy pre-burn as he battles Nancy. None of these are especially interesting; the “Ending” is slightly intriguing but not really effective.
A second disc provides both a digital copy of Nightmare for use on computers or digital portable gadgets as well as a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a barebones package, so don’t expect any extras.
While it’s not the worst modern horror remake I’ve seen, 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street doesn’t do much to reinvent that particular wheel. It manages a few curveballs but not enough to really involve or scare the viewer. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive visuals, excellent audio, and a reasonably good set of supplements. I have no real complaints about this release, but the movie itself leaves me cold.
Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars|| Number of Votes: 1|