Why 2010’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ was actually a really good remake

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So many remakes fall into the trap. They are either so different from the original that they might as well not be a remake, but instead a new movie (Total Recall), or they emphasize the wrong part of the movie, missing the underlying storyline that made the original so great (Robocop).  Why does this happen? Well, in my view this comes down to wrong script choice, bad direction and not enough research.  I will explain myself, because I can hear squid-like noises from thousands of fans eyes rolling in their sockets as I write.

All great movies have an underlying storyline that can be applied to everyday life. The amazing 1987’s Robocop, for example, the story was not simply a man turned robot who fought crime. The backbone of the story was more about man playing God, and the world’s reaction to a miracle or monster, resulting in a movie more like a Mary Shelley novel.  The overall moral of the story is that the desire to be human is still too powerful to be controlled by technology.  The remake seemingly didn’t bother too much with the battle between human consciousness and technology, only having a small scene where the human mind overtakes the robot mind towards the end and influences the robot’s decision. The movie was more interested in whether or not they should turn off the human mind altogether. Maybe they were trying to take it in a new direction, but I think they hoped the viewers would be distracted by the special effects, or have not seen the original.

The director can influence the movie enough to keep what is important to the fans of the classic. When a director decides to not pay homage to the original, and does not include any references that the fans will notice, is either because the director was not a fan of the first one themselves, or they are afraid they will bastardize it.  In my view, it is important to have a true fan direct any remake and include references as a tip of the hat to the original writers and directors.

The 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street was full of references that the fans could appreciate, and it counts as a sign of respect to Wes Craven for making such an excellent movie.  At the end of the day, Wes Craven’s movie is iconic, and so many scenes have been outlined in the horror industry for his genius practical effects.

I have heard critics say that the remake was too like the first and that it lacked originality, but I think they have forgotten what a “remake” means. A remake takes a movie that did a lot of things right, and adds to the imagery to retell the story in an attempt to make it current and possibly even better (although none that have achieved this come to mind).  This can only be a compliment if done by a true fan, and not just made by anyone trying to make a quick buck, or get their name out there.  I mean, why take away some of 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street amazing scenes?

Freddy coming out of the wall

Body bag scene from both movies

Bath tub scene from both movies

End twist from both movies

Even though all these great scenes were reworked, I would have loved to seen the part where Johnny Depp was splattered over his bedroom ceiling thrown in there, too.  However, there must have been a conscious reason for not including it and if I ever get to interview Samuel Bayer, I will be asking him. He did include the Depp t-shirt though. Did you notice?

Johnny Depp's tshirt used in both movies

I know, I know. I’m a movie geek. I just hope it was not a coincidence.

**Spoilers

So now that we have discussed the similarities, what about the differences? Lets start with the story. It’s pretty much all there, but they decided to give the audience an insight to Krueger’s background, which is something you didn’t see, but only heard, in 1984.  Then the storyline takes a turn for a short while, to make you believe that Freddy was innocent and that he was taking revenge for the lies the children told. When we finally find the truth, we find that Freddy was actually a pedophile, and not a child murder.  Wes Craven decide to not have Krueger as a pedophile in the original, as he felt this would have been too much for the viewers at the time.  I still think a child murderer would have been enough for the remake, but they obviously wanted to make it more sinister.

The ending of the original movie was one of many discussions had during the making, and could be why they decided to use the ending more like from 1991’s Freddy’s Dead. Once Krueger has been brought out of the dream world into the real one, they slash his throat, as opposed to simply turning their back on him to take away his power. Good move, and they set him on fire again!

Now, for some reason there is an unwritten rule that the original antagonist can not be the character again in the remake, and for good reason I think. But if they didn’t get Englund to play Freddy, then who? This was a problem they had in the casting of Freddy’s Revenge,  due to Engulnd’s management asking for too much money. When New Line Cinema auditioned others for the role, they found that Robert Englund was truly the only person that could pull it off.

Jackie Earle Haley was excellent, and I could not imagine anyone else doing it without being too much Freddy or not enough.  He brought along with him a new, twisted soul that made it darker and far less comical then his predecessor, and his scar tissue is far more believable.  If you can think of anyone that could have done better, comment below.

However, I do want to point out that there were some things they didn’t get right.  Although Rooney Mara was more then adequate covering the role of Nancy, she does not deserve the privilege, given that she feels being in the movie was a mistake, and has questioned continuing being an actor. If this is due to the fact the movie has been heavily criticized, then she needs to man the fuck up! She did a good job and needs to remember all remakes will be criticized, good or bad.

And just as a side note, the CGI used to recreate the Freddy coming out of the wall scene was shit. It was laughable and should have found itself with a slice either side of it on the film reel.

In conclusion, this movie was made by a Freddy fan, for the Freddy fans, and recreated loads of things to point out to the less fanatic one of us.  This is not only what the remake lover enjoys, but as a enormous A Nightmare on Elm Street fan, I can say the Freddy fans should love it, too.  If you watched the movie and didn’t like it, and are either of these two types of people, watch it again having heard my opinion and think… “This movie was made for me.”

13 COMMENTS

  1. I love this movie. I know a lot of Em Street fans hate it. I’ve been a huge supporter of it since the day it came out.I love the actors (Mara and Cassidy are perfect), love the look, and thought Jackie Haley made a really cool Freddy. ” Why are screaming? I haven’t even cut you yet.” So good. Great piece!

  2. Ooooookay. Where to begin?

    Let’s start with your last sentence. “This movie was made for me?” Samuel Bayer said that he didn’t make this movie for fans of the original and basically told them to go fuck themselves if they didn’t like it. If you didn’t make this movie for fans of the original, why were there so many homages to it?

    The look of Freddy is stupid. Freddy looked burnt because he WAS burnt to death. He died. He looks how he looked at the moment he passed on. Having him look like a fully healed burn victim with scar tissue makes zero sense. He would have to be alive, with living tissue, for him to look that way.

    I love Jackie Earle Haley. But not for Freddy. Granted, he was great in the role, but the role was not for him. I’m sorry, but you can’t be intimidating when you’re the same size as the children you’re trying to intimidate. Also, much of Freddy’s appeal came from him being a smart ass. Granted, this happened more in the later sequels, but it became what he was known for. Changing him into this dark and gritty, uber-sinister bastard changed the entire tone of the franchise.

    And the end. Well, it’s basically the same as Freddy vs. Jason, so not very original there.

    I appreciate your opinion, but in mine, this movie is shit. They tried to cash in on both the new school horror crowd and the old school Elm Street fans, and in the end the movie ended up just looking like an overproduced piece of Michael Bay garbage with no heart.

  3. Great article. There are quite a few remakes I loved and appreciated. Are they ever better than the original, debatable. Most of these horror films helped define the genre in one way or the other. But, since Hollywood has a hard time coming up with new ideas (or it is just too costly to make new films when remakes rake in the dough) it is always fun to see remakes. My favorite remakes include Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th.

  4. Funny despite my hours or research I didn’t know Bayer said that. His head must haven been up his ass that day because he put in do many scenes that either he wanted to see or wanted people to see. Which is what a fan would do for fellow fans. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  5. i agree with you this remake does not get enough credit the a nightmare on elm street franchise is one of my favorites and the remake was a good film only thing i didn’t like was the way freddy looked but i got over that quickly

  6. As good as this film is, what I loved about the original, and what was missing in the remake, was the gallows humor from Freddie that was a big part of why I loved the original series. For me, it was reminiscent of the Crypt Keeper from Takes from the Crypt. With the decision to remove the wisecracks from Freddie, the film was missing something I enjoyed.

  7. Didn’t hate the movie, but certainly didn’t love it. But thank you anyway for putting forth a dissenting opinion. Speaking of which, I do take issue with your dismissal of the Robocop remake. I loved that the central conflict of the film was the polar opposite of the original. I think the struggle to retain one’s humanity in the face of an institution that is trying to erode it is much more compelling than being a robot for 80% of the film, then hinting at the shred of humanity that is left. Don’t get me wrong, the original Robocop is a classic and a pitch perfect satire of the very era that created it, but I think the remake did what all good remakes should do: update the core of the story to make it relevant to the times and give us a new angle that provokes new questions and discussion.

  8. Yes but he really didn’t develop much of his charictor until the third movie. He only had a handful of lines in the first movie so it depends if they were trying to make it like the first or not. I think they should have made him more vocal as this is clearly what wins and I agree with you there.

  9. This is one of a few remakes I feel got it so wrong that someone should do it again straight away. Murphy waking up as himself and not as a computerised machine is not what it was all about. If they wanted to make another GI Joe movie they should have called it something else. If you enjoyed it tho I’m happy for you. The reason I wrote this article is because I love hearing people opinion. 🙂

  10. It was infinitely better than the laughably outdated/overrated original. End of story.

    Turn off your worryingly clueless childhood nostalgia, loser fanboys X- )

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