Rooney Mara

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010, Samuel Bayer)

Watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, I can’t believe remake director Bayer ever saw any of the original movies. Because he doesn’t even want to borrow the better techniques of those films. He instead goes with a thoughtless approach to the film. Specifically, the dream stuff. He doesn’t have any interest in it. Not just as narrative possibility or narrative tricks to play on the audience, things to get them to think about to get a built-up scare instead of a jump scare. Bayer doesn’t even have interest in the effects. He’s cashing a check and doesn’t have the professionalism to feign interest.

The script’s terrible, but it’s clear Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer are familiar with the original movies. They try to make it more realistic and try to exploit little kids. They succeed with the latter, which makes for an unpleasant viewing experience (though it’s “funny” how prime time procedurals desensitized audiences better than slasher movies ever could have). The script just uses tragedy to fuel the characters because they have nothing else. The film’s universally badly acted, but there’s not a single well-written part.

Also, the script’s arranged poorly. Strick and Heisserer try to show off plot feints, but they’re obvious ones. Maybe if Bayer were doing anything but he’s not, except dressing Katie Cassidy like an eighties Barbie doll. It’s the only time in Nightmare I actually thought Bayer was trying, but I’m not sure. Maybe it was coincidence. Anyway, with the eventual reveal, it’s clear the film should’ve at least had a more natural flow.

So real bad acting from the following–Kellan Lutz, Thomas Dekker, Katie Cassidy. Bad acting but in completely the wrong part from Kyle Gallner and Jackie Earle Haley. These two are exceptionally miscast. It’s kind of hilarious how little anyone actually tried making this movie any good.

And Rooney Mara’s almost okay. She goes from really bad to not as bad to deserving of pity. She and Gallner’s arc is rough going as far as what Mara gets to do with scenes.

There’s no reason a Nightmare on Elm Street remake couldn’t be good. This film’s problems are all ones it intentionally, maliciously and not, brings to the table on its own.



Directed by Samuel Bayer; screenplay by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, based on a story by Strick and characters created by Wes Craven; director of photography, Jeff Cutter; edited by Glen Scantlebury; music by Steve Jablonsky; production designer, Patrick Lumb; produced by Bradley Fuller, Michael Bay and Andrew Form; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Rooney Mara (Nancy Holbrook), Kyle Gallner (Quentin Smith), Thomas Dekker (Jesse Braun), Katie Cassidy (Kris Fowles), Kellan Lutz (Dean Russell), Lia D. Mortensen (Nora Fowles), Connie Britton (Dr. Gwen Holbrook), Clancy Brown (Alan Smith) and Jackie Earle Haley (Freddy Krueger).

The Winning Season (2009, James C. Strouse)

The Winning Season mentions Hoosiers at one point, which is good. It’s set in Indiana, it’s a basketball movie about an underdog team… there needs to be a Hoosiers reference. But it’s not Hoosiers with a girls basketball team, because it’s not really about the games.

Strouse’s approach is traditional. Take a lovable alcoholic misanthropic schmuck–Sam Rockwell–and let him redeem himself throughout the running time of the film as he discovers he’s capable of being a positive in someone else’s life. In this case, a girls basketball team.

What The Winning Season has going for it is a director who knows how to direct conversation scenes (the games are never vibrant–but it’d be out of place here), a really good script (the girls are a little tame off court, except Rooney Mara, who’s shacking up with a forty-something shoe salesman) and Rockwell. It’s maybe not Rockwell’s most dynamic, searching performance, but it’s Rockwell with a good script. It’s amazing acting.

He gets a lot of support from the supporting cast. None of the basketball team girls are bad. Meaghan Witri and Emily Rios are probably the best besides Mara, who gets lucky have the most drama. Emma Roberts is okay, nothing more. She’s affable.

Rob Corddry is really good here. I usually find him annoying, not here. It’s just a solid performance. Really nice work here from Margo Martindale too.

It’s a surprisingly good film. Having Rockwell helps a lot, but Strouse does an excellent job.



Written and directed by James C. Strouse; director of photography, Frank G. DeMarco; edited by Joe Klotz; music by Ed Shearmur; production designer, Stephen Beatrice; produced by Kara Baker, Galt Niederhoffer, Celine Rattray, Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Gia Walsh; released by Lionsgate.

Starring Sam Rockwell (Bill), Emma Roberts (Abby), Rob Corddry (Terry), Emily Rios (Kathy), Rooney Mara (Wendy), Jessica Hecht (Stacey), Connor Paolo (Damon), Meaghan Witri (Tamra), Melanie Hinkle (Mindy), Shana Dowdeswell (Molly), Vanessa Gordillo (Flor), Shareeka Epps (Lisa) and Margo Martindale (Donna).

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