Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010Reviewed by Carmen Potts

Starring Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Thomas Dekker, Connie Britton, Clancy Brown, Katie Cassidy, Kellan Lutz

Directed by Samuel Bayer

At the risk of sounding biased or unfair right out of the gate, I have to ask a question that has been on my mind for the last few years: Why do people continue to hold out any hope for these Platinum Dunes remakes? I know brand names are exciting, but after several of these lame assembly line clones, Michael Bay and his posse have consistently proven that they don’t understand a single thing about telling stories or creating characters. Hell, they couldn’t even provide us with basic bloody entertainment in a Friday the 13th movie. That’s the absolute lowest of hurdles! What made anyone think they would fare better with something as imaginative and smart as A Nightmare on Elm Street?

The short answer is they don’t. At this point all of these remakes are pretty much indistinguishable from each other, and this new Nightmare perfectly fits in with the rest as another over-polished, soulless slice of music video stupidity.

If you know anything about Freddy Krueger (which would be everyone reading this site), you know the premise, which is exactly the same this time around: Several kids in the town of Springwood are being killed in their sleep by a burned maniac and must get to the bottom of his revenge quest. If you die in your sleep, you die for real. Great hook, right? It’s too bad all the depth of Wes Craven’s concept has gone waaaaay over the heads of the remake team.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Where to begin? Director Samuel Bayer embodies all the worst traits of the music video guy turned filmmaker. He over-stylizes every shot without any regard to pace, storytelling, characters, or performances. Bayer has even taken jabs at Craven’s original in the press, and many have commented on how he only took the gig to break out of music videos and into features. That complete lack of passion and understanding comes across in spades. But since this is exactly like every other Platinum Dunes movie, maybe we shouldn’t blame him. Maybe we should just level the blame at the producers, who always seem to be the real directors of these movies anyway.

Regardless, for a “creative team” that has displayed a complete indifference to Wes Craven, they sure love imitating him. Most of the original’s classic setpieces have been repeated – this time with a lot of bad CGI. It’s amazing to see all these iconic sequences sucked of all life, and the whole thing further hammers home why the horror genre loses its charm as filmmakers continue to get lazier with technology. The few nightmare sequences or gags they’re able to come up with on their own are largely uninspired. Even with an unlimited concept at their disposal, they do absolutely nothing new or interesting with the dream universe aside from your typical stalk-n-slash. Epic fail, guys.

The casting of the great Jackie Earl Haley was the one token of good faith and the sole reason many have held out hope for the remake. I hate to say it, but his Freddy Krueger is about as intimidating as a burned Martin Short. You can’t blame the man, though. He tries really hard. Had the character been re-envisioned from the ground up, Haley could have really sunk his teeth in and made it his own. But since he’s dressed in the familiar garb and forced to perform the same ol’ song and dance (albeit with the early darker iteration of Freddy), he comes off as a poor man’s Robert Englund. The new make-up (a mixture of prosthetics and CGI) doesn’t help either: The FX department pushes it so far towards the real that Freddy doesn’t look scary in the slightest. How terrified would you be if the scrawniest patient in a burn ward slapped on a razor glove and came at you?

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

And let’s talk about the glove, shall we? Remember the complete non-moment in the Friday the 13th remake when Jason randomly finds his hockey mask sitting on some guy’s floor? Well, that same lack of care has been put into Freddy’s origins. Moments that are supposed to be big and signature come off as under-played and limp. I’m still unsure where Freddy’s signature glove came from (he just “has” it in the finished film) aside from one limp visual connection. A lot of this has to do with the big third act twist that re-invents Freddy’s past crimes in a way that is both bold and utterly preposterous.

But what really kills this movie are the characters. There isn’t a single solitary person here to care about. The original Nightmare may be dated in many respects, but it was the intense character dynamics and relationships that kept you on edge just as much as when Freddy Krueger was onscreen. In the remake there’s no sense that anyone knows each other at all. The kids here are as stock as they come, and as a result nothing in this movie carries any weight. Every character is boring and completely one-dimensional, particularly Rooney Mara (who takes on Heather Langenkamp’s iconic role of Nancy). She is quite literally one of the blandest heroines to ever hit the screen, and I could feel myself nod off with each of her line deliveries. Sure, the original wasn’t exactly praised for its acting, but even Ronee Blakley comes off like a master thespian by comparison. Call me crazy, but when a Nightmare movie lulls you to sleep, that’s not a good thing.

While it may not reach Freddy’s Dead levels of suck, this new Nightmare commits a far worse offense: It’s mediocre to the point where it leaves absolutely no impression on you whatsoever. I know Platinum Dunes has been DC’s whipping boy for a long time, and most people will think this review no surprise, but let’s get something straight: Nothing would give us more pleasure than to see a PD film that makes us all eat crow. But the reality is their talents are not suited to the horror genre. And certainly not for Elm Street.

No one’s gonna lose sleep over this one.

2 out of 5

“>A Nightmare On Elm Street by Carmen Potts


A Nightmare On Elm Street CENTRAL
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  • PelusaMG

    Pointless… This film added nothing new to the man/demon Freddy, than what we already knew. The rehashed shots from the original lacked any suspense because we already knew the outcome of them, and they were rushed and pointless anyway. Only by the end did Haley come into his own as Freddy; up till then his presence in the movie had been entirely vapid! I was bored for two thirds of the film, and as I said, only by the end did things begin to get somewhat interesting in that they did something a little different (i.e end the film in Freddy’s pedo-lair), and finally showed us that yes, Freddy really was a child-molester. Other than that, it was a waste of time and effort, and apart from a few nice shots (in the drug store for one), visually it was awful. Rob Zombie’s “Halloween 2” looked consistently better, and he’s not exactly know for his visuals… In summary, I’d rather have gone to see something else this evening, or saved my money for “Iron Man 2”!

  • Morgan Elektra

    Personally, I think 2/5 is generous. I would’ve given it 0. I didn’t find a single frame entertaining. Even the F13 remake, which I thought was shallow and soulless and completely forgettable, had a few moments where I felt a brief spark of enjoyment. Didn’t happen here at all.

    We learn next to nothing about any of the main characters. I would be amazed if anyone who’d seen the film could name all of them and list just 3 seperate traits for each. Towards the end of the film, Nancy says something along the lines of ‘If you hadn’t noticed, I don’t really fit in’ to Quentin. And yet they’ve done absolutely nothing up to that point to establish that she didn’t fit in. In fact, they show her interacting fairly easily with all the other main characters with no hint of awkwardness or strangeness. This failure of Writing 101 is indicative of the lack of character development throughout the film. Not a single character here has an arc. They begin and end the film having not grown or changed at all. They know things they didn’t before, but it hasn’t affected them in any life changing way.

    And then there are the glaring plot holes. Freddy tells Nancy that he feeds of her memories… but if that’s the case, how had he been existing up to that point, since it’s established that these kids had no memory of him up until they started having the nightmares? Who’s memories was he feeding on until they remembered? Well, perhaps some of those other kids that are already dead were the ones feeding him via their memories, you might say. Maybe they didn’t ever forget. Well, then why the fuck would it make sense to kill them? Wouldn’t that then rob him of all his power? It’s not even established that Freddy was doing things to ALL of the kids. And if he wasn’t doing things to all of them, was it just the kids he did things to that tattled? If it was just Nancy and her little group of buds who ratted on Freddy, why did the rest of them die? They just happened to be there?

    I did think Thomas Dekker did a good job of imbuing Jesse with at least a modicum of likeability. But he was the only one. Everyone else just seemed tired.

    • Rorschach

      Agreed 100% Morgan. In the original, Nancy Thompson was a fighter…a survivor, and more than a worthy adversary for Krueger. She had wit, smarts, personality, and a vibrant quality to her character than made her likable.

      Rooney Mara’s Nancy? NONE of that at all. Her Nancy is a dopey, mopey, depressed Goth-type artiste more interested in gazing at her own navel than in taking down the “dream slayer” once and for all.

      Oh and one more thing: If CRANK (and medical training) have taught me anything, it’s that 1)If you take THAT much epinephrine, your heart is going to go KABOOM pretty fucking quickly, and 2)If you’re as desperate for a quick hit of energy as Quentin apparently was in the pharmacy…there are mini-marts and gas stations and groceries with whole ISLES full of fucking “5 Hour Energy” shots, caffiene gum, and energy drinks out the ass. Any one of those things would have worked far better than his medicine, and if the grumpy old fuck at the counter wasn’t going to give him his pills, he could have gone back out to the car, driven to one of the places I listed, and gotten a quick shot of caffiene. For God’s sake…does Springwood NOT have a fucking Starbucks, or a coffee shop ANYWHERE? Again, more of that lazy writing.

      • Pestilence

        I’ll likely be going to see this tomorrow, and these posts have convinced me that I’m going to be groaning throughout the entire runtime. How could they fuck this up so badly?

        • LifeMi

          Dude, it’s been a week and I’m still in shock as to how fucking bad it was.

  • e-x-i-t

    yeah, great idea for a quality remake:

    take a director famous for ambiguous and pointless grunge videos (he got his start with “smells like teen spirit”, i believe) that expresses open contempt for the original material while somehow being unwilling or unable to come up with his own ideas…add a bunch of final destination rejects (i doubt we’ll find the next johnny depp in this cast) and change the origin of the main character so that it’s not only offensive but ridiculous and unrealistic (and that’s in the context of a movie about a dream traveling serial killer.) i’m surprised they didn’t make freddy a catholic priest.

    at this point i look forward to platinum dunes’ pg-13 remake of martyrs directed by mcg and starring the olsen twins.

  • Zayzie

    I went in to the theater with the lowest of expectations – there has not been a horror movie I have found genuinely horrifying or interesting in years. I believe the new Nightmare delivers the goods, but is a bit incomplete and simple. The main focus seemed to be the plot not explored in the first nightmare, which just seemed to beat around the bush and make the whole back-story pretty muddled.So when I see these negative reviews about it, I try to see it from the reviewer’s perspective, but sometimes I don’t.

    Just to get something out of the way, The first nightmare did not scare me. The first Freddy, while entertaining, did not scare me. I found the movie to be less about being scary and more about some homicidal maniac, with razor gloves, and a muddled back-story who loved cracking weird jokes every once in a while – that I didn’t really react to. The movie, however, was entertaining, but not that frightening. I believe it reveled in the relationships built between the characters, and how slowly picking them off slowly led to everyone’s paranoia, which is where that Freddy thrived.

    The new Nightmare seems to thrive in what it lacks. I find that there is a time for deep character development, and a time for short introductions. What it all depends on, for me,is that Isometimes,really don’t care if they die. I don’t care if their friends die. I don’t care about whatever issues they have to work out with Big Bad – you can have a sob story be emotionally depressed, be someone who morally should find a reason to live through all this shit and when the shit gets rolling I really don’t care. Because once these really well-developed characters confront the baddie (who also doesn’t care) why should I care? If you can’t make the two relate then don’t bother. The first Nightmare almost fell into this pitfall for me, but got itself out of it when the plot came together. But the novelty that was Freddy started to wear off on me towards the end, and the ending just was weird for me (I thought it was cute though.)

    This remake keeps it short, to the point, and real. It touches lightly on relationships, and lets the audience make assumptions, and allowing them to fill in the blanks about characters so they can get into them, maybe add a bit of themselves into the character. A pet peeve, of mine, was for the guy who went to jail, who didn’t seem to make that strong of a presence before he was offed. This is what I don’t like about the remake. It seems to alienate the characters from their parents and any outside reactions. It doesn’t bother me that much, but the new Nightmare on Elm Street world seemed a lot smaller than the first one. It almost makes up for it in the scene where the brunette starts looking for everyone in the picture, I think it connects the separate stories a bit more. It shows the action the parents took, how no one recalls much, but Freddy’s killing spree will just be a constant reminder. This also gives the two survivors more of a tragic meaning at the end when they do remember, just like Freddy wanted them to.

    I also found that the effects were simple and effective. When people talk about the wallpaper scene being worst than the first movie, I have to ask – how would you do it? Have a dream about someone trying to escape from your wallpaper and tell me what you think it should look like. Dreams are distorted, sometimes they’re fake, and sometimes they’re so real you forget you’re dreaming. (hell I had a dream when I took a severed head and tried burning it. It turned into spaghetti and was still laughing. It sounds weird, but I hadn’t killed the psycho in my dream yet, so I was a bit edgy when I woke up.) I found the dream sequences simple, strange, and effective.

    The movie was a treat, a break from the torture porn and complicated mush pot of a plot that most horror films of today are. However, there are parts that are predictable, and I found myself asking, when? And who’s gonna die this time? This movie thrives on delivery, and the disturbing back-story development. It suffers from being off in its own little corner of its own little world, attempting not to involve anyone who isn’t Freddy Fodder. It’s not revolutionary, but it isn’t a waste of time, and Haley’s performance is wonderful. I thought that with as many times I saw him on screen I would get bored of him, but he really did bring something creepy to the character. I love the way he moves the claw and the pace he moves at. It’s not too fast, and it’s not too slow. I was also afraid he would never laugh, but he does, and it doesn’t sound stupid. It’s the hollow, emotionless laugh, that I would expect from a burnt psychopathic pedophile.

    Nonetheless I had fun watching this movie, even for all its little quirks and flaws.

    • plagiarize

      my issue with the wallpaper scene is that it looked less realistic than the scene in the original film and way below the standard of CGI we should expect to see in this day and age.

      it looked like similar effects from the Frighteners, which may have had decent effects for the time it came out, but came out over ten years ago. the idea of it… using CG to have his knives and face push through… was fine.

      it was the incredibly dated looking CGI that ruined it.

      the effect in the original film, like all good effects (practical or cg) didn’t look like an effect. before the wall stretches you think you’re looking at a wall and not a rubber sheet. then it’s short, subtle and brilliant when freddy pushes out of it.

      many of the effects in the first film are awful looking today. the blow up sex doll dragged through the window. tina being slashed on the bed and the actress folding up the appliance so you can see the green unpainted underside of the latex are the ones that stand out the most.

      but the rubber wall is the one that still looks great, and not only does it look worse in the remake, it’s the worst looking effect in the remake.

  • TheDreamMaster

    I agree with much of this review; here’s my own take on it:

  • plagiarize

    So… I come away without any really strong feelings. I liked the cast quite a lot. I see people calling them ‘uninteresting’ or ‘stock’ but personally I found them fairly real, which worked. Still I can see where ‘real’ can also be uninteresting too. The closest any of them have to a personality quirk is that Nancy paints, and even that isn’t made much of, it’s just something that is kind of there.

    But I did like the cast, and I thought the acting overall was of a high standard. So whether the casting director or Samuel Bayer deserve credit for that, credit to whoever was reponsible for putting this talented cast together.

    I like the story. I like the script… I’m just amazed that Bayer’s visual direction was so… lacking. His composition and framing were good… the cinematography was good… but it was just so uncreative.

    The production design aside from the nightmare in the school (with the ash and the wet floor) was just so mundane. Only the lowest budget Elm Street films had nightmares this ‘realistic’ looking, and that wasn’t by choice.

    There was very little visual flair over all and that was something I think the film really needed and where it was most lacking.

    I’m left wondering where the more creative stuff I read about (that zipper head scene from the set visits) ended up. That’s the kind of thing that was missing. Knowing they shot stuff like that and it isn’t in the film is frustrating.

    The micronaps ended up just being an excuse for jump scares, and not the fix to a common elm street problem I was hoping for.

    When someone was awake, micronaps meant Freddy could go ‘BOO’ and maybe cut someone superficially. The rest of the film was stuck with that cliche of showing someones head slumping forwards for a split second.

    Whenever that happens we know the person has fallen asleep. No one is fooled by that. I thought micronaps were going to fix that… no such luck.

    There’s groundwork here for a sequel. Not a straight sequel… but Jackie’s Freddy could just as easily walk into any script that might have been planned as a sequel to the main franchise.

    The mystery is solved and they’re stuck trying to come up with a plot to put him into, which is the problem every Elm Street sequel faced… but the Freddy that walks away from this remake is essentially the same guy.

    Still a child murderer. Still playing with his victims and making himself laugh with his sick sense of humour…

    It’s just a shame that this remake doesn’t have half the imagination of any of the Elm Street sequels.

    It’s a better film than some of them, but it plays it way too safe. We needed a director with a strong style who would take risks and relish the freedom shooting nightmares afforded.

    Maybe we’ll get one next time.

  • LifeMi

    OH MY GOD. I knew this was going to be bad, but I didn’t expect it to be as utterly pathetic as it was. So weak, so stale, so fucking poorly done. Save for a couple of Freddy’s lines, the movie was a complete waste of time. I never thought PD would’ve made a movie even worse than the Friday The 13th Remake. Wow. Just WOW.

  • mansuave

    My morbid curiosity got the better of me, and I attended a free press screening with a friend last night.

    This movie is like a goth chick with no tits — flat, and tries so hard to be disturbing, but fails.

    A film completely devoid of personality. Platinum Dunes does for horror movies what pantyhose did for finger-fucking.

  • plagiarize

    In answer to the question in the first review, I was in the camp that enjoyed the F13th remake (didn’t much care for their other films though). I judged F13th against the F13th films of the last couple of decades or so and found it more than worthwhile.

    I can’t comment on Elm Street until I see it tonight, but my excitement for it is based on Jackie Earl Haley and a director with strong visual flair. Whether that translates into a worthwhile film, or something where I’m left saying ‘this sucked, but I hope Jackie Earl Haley gets a sequel with a good script and a worthwhile director’ we’ll see… but right now I’m still optimistic. There’s plenty of horror films that have scores in the teens on Rotten Tomatoes that I really enjoyed.

    Really I’m judging this against every film in the franchise individually and not just the original. Even if it sucks as entertainment, if it makes Freddy scary again and brings in good money, I’ll be happy it existed even if I didn’t personally like it.

  • Vanvance1

    The worst part of all this is that now it’ll take many, many years… maybe decades for us to get another Nightmare sequel. That’s what we should have got in the first place.

    Fuck you, Dunes. This is a cinematic crime on a level (almost) of what you did to The Hitcher.

    Go fuck up another genre! Make romantic comedies!

  • LSD Zombie

    Ugh. Just as I expected, an absolute waste of both time and money. How depressing….

  • Floydian Trip

    This is the highest score I’ve seen yet.

    • Rorschach

      I think I’ve only seen three good reviews of it so far…one here and like two over on RT last I checked. But then again, this was a Platinum Dunes movie, and as much as I want to give them a chance to prove me wrong with each of their films…they’ve earned their reputation as the top dogs when it comes to taking iconic, classic horror movies and churning out dogshit remakes.

      Cannot WAIT for the DFF on this one…I think Creepy might just end up doing another epic rant like his F13 one! ;D