Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010Reviewed by Heather Wixson

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

Directed by Samuel Bayer

I can vividly remember the first time I saw Freddy Krueger on the big screen. It was 1987, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors was playing during the summer at a local drive-in as a double feature with Predator. Once I had seen the Freddy Worm sequence, I knew I was a Freddy Girl for life and there was no going back.

When I originally heard that Platinum Dunes was remaking A Nightmare on Elm Street (true story: if you Google me, one of the top links is a comment I made on about the project a few years back), I was livid. However, being in the line of work that I am, remakes are now a commonality, and as I've come to realize through numerous discussions with genre filmmakers of every level, there are no sacred cows left when it comes to our boogeymen.

Freddy Krueger was getting a makeover, and that was the end of it.

Going into A Nightmare on Elm Street, what I consciously decided to do was keep an open mind and avoid the urge to compare it to the original. What I decided when the film was finished was that, for the most part, Platinum Dunes succeeded in delivering one hell of a chilling spin on the lore of Freddy Krueger and the doomed teenagers of Elm Street.

In terms of plot A Nightmare on Elm Street goes back to square one. We're introduced to a group of teenagers who all inexplicably begin to have nightmares about the same man. Once one of the teenagers commits suicide while asleep, the others come together to find out what evil lurks in their missing childhood memories and how that relates to the increasingly disturbing man who terrorizes their dreams.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

In this new film first-time feature director Samuel Bayer isn't looking to recreate the look that Wes Craven established with his 1984 modern horror classic. Instead, Bayer, who is known as the visionary director who may have single-handedly revolutionized MTV in the early 90s with his video for Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," plays to his strengths as a visual director to make this terrifying new trip down Elm Street something that translates well to today's audiences.

What I also enjoyed about this new Nightmare is that we finally get some character development that doesn't seem forced like you see in countless other horror films these days. The core group of teenagers taking on Freddy this time (Mara, Gallner, Dekker, Cassidy, Lutz) are all likable, realistic characters that you actually want to root for. There's no jock, no stoner kid, no dumb cheerleader. These kids are just seriously screwed up and looking to survive. In supporting roles both veteran actor Brown and one of my personal favorites, Britton, deliver great performances as parents, who for a change aren't the generic hapless adult-types we so frequently see. These are parents who desperately want nothing but to protect their children from evil.

Now, it's time to talk Freddy. In this Nightmare Freddy is cruel and dark. Perhaps darker than we've really seen before. In the original series Freddy's crimes against the children while still alive all played off-screen. Here, script writers Eric Heisserer and Wesley Strick avoid the easy route and explore the pedophile aspect of Krueger by giving us some back-story without going to far. It was a bold decision for Platinum Dunes and Bayer to agree to go this route, and while it is touchy subject matter, it never feels exploitative.

Haley, who has become the master of playing dark characters, takes his Freddy to some wicked and terrible places as he chases down his victims. While he doesn't have that certain charisma that only comes from being Robert Englund himself, Haley does give the character a cold viciousness that has been lacking in the franchise since 1994's New Nightmare. Haley's Freddy is pissed and disturbed and doesn't have time for one-liners or sight gags. He's just here for revenge. And it was nice to see Freddy finally have a little menace back behind the glove.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Even though I enjoyed A Nightmare on Elm Street, there are things I'm still not completely on board with. First is the makeup. It's been a problem for me since I did my set visit last June. I can appreciate the decision to give Freddy a more realistic look, but I think that since Freddy is this evil entity in the dream world (and not reality), his makeup should have reflected that. That could just be my inner geek talking, but usually my inner geek is right. My other issue is that the big showdown between Nancy and Freddy in the final act is missing a little something. The film's ultimate conclusion more than makes up for it, but I would have liked to go a little further in finding out just why Nancy is Freddy's "favorite" out of all of his victims.

Also, surprisingly enough, the two scenes that slowed the film down for me are those taken straight from Craven's original -- the tub scene and Freddy pushing through the wall. I liked a lot of what Bayer did with his Nightmare, especially something referred to as the "Blood Bog" by the cast and crew and the opening scene, which gives the film a brutal jolt. But the film would have been stronger had it kept in the subtle homages to the original and avoided recreating those classic scenes. With such a vast creative playground, like the dream world, this would have been a good opportunity for Platinum Dunes and Bayer to really add their trademarks to the project.

The other thing I wasn't happy with is that the film relies too much on digital technology to do its storytelling. While I do know that these days it's hard to avoid digital effects, I just wish the technology was enough to keep the effects from still looking cheesy.

With all that being said on both sides of the playing field, the solid performances, stunning cinematography and visuals, and revamped and brutal Freddy make this A Nightmare on Elm Street worth checking out. While the film isn't completely perfect, it is clear that Platinum Dunes learned how to improve its formula since last year's Friday the 13th remake. And even though this Nightmare wasn't nearly the memorable event for me that Dream Warriors was some 20-something years ago (how can you compete with nostalgia?), this is a good start to a new era of Freddy Krueger, and I'd definitely be interested to see where this new franchise goes in the future.

3 1/2 out of 5

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Review Our NEGATIVE look at A Nightmare On Elm Street by Carmen Potts
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Check out our TOTAL News Center
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Find out what we learned from our Set Visit
Brad Fuller - A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Read our Interview with Brad Fuller
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Photo Gallery Feast your eyes on our extensive Photo Gallery
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Video Clips Watch all of our Video Clips, Soundbites, and B-Roll
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Video Interviews Get entranced by our Video Interviews with Jackie Earle Haley, Samuel Bayer & Thomas Dekker
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010 Black Carpet Premiere Make like you're there with us at our Black Carpet Premiere Coverage

Discuss A Nightmare on Elm Street in our forums!


Terminal's picture

Samuel Bayer says:
"The world of horror fandom is an impassioned, opinionated and often cutthroat place, and since the film’s release this past Friday, message boards and blogs have lit up with fiery debates. But Bayer isn’t impressed by the virtual slings and arrows. “Look, I’m gonna catch a lot of heat for this,” he begins. “But some of these fans on the web should just get up, stretch, breathe, go outside and get some fresh air, maybe get a girlfriend and just get a life. They should see the movie and make up their own minds.”

Ah those horror fans at PD really understand us considering most of the people debating the movie have seen the motherfucking movie.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 8:25pm.
Terminal's picture

I hope to watch NOES 10 soon so I can engage in mature discussion like you guys.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 7:55pm.
Cinemascribe's picture

That's an ironic comment considering that when I called you out for making BS generalizations about other horror fans because they enjoy a film you did not, you essentially stomped your foot and went into a rant implying that I'm a crybaby. Not exactly the height of maturity there either.
"I'm saying that I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man...and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake." - Seth Brundle

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 11:40pm.
Terminal's picture

Ouch! Kittens got claws! Nah, you didn't call me out, you more whined about what I was ranting even though I didn't even address you in the statement and wasn't even talking about PD as a whole, and again I didn't call YOU a crybaby, so the very fact you're assuming I'm talking to you is quite humorous and indicative of an apparent complex you might have, I must say. How do you know I stomped my foot? Dude, you're good.

And I am mature, doodyhead. So there.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 11:57pm.
Cinemascribe's picture

By inserting the comment about not "prefacing your opinions with no offense for crybabies" in the first place, it's pretty obvious you were directing the comment at me as I was the one who called you on your generalization . The whining crack and your subsequent assessment of my supposed complex are really, really funny because they suggest that I hit a nerve. Who knew Mr.Grumpy was that thin skinned?

Doodyhead? MY mom's gonna call YOUR mom and boy are YOU gonna be in trouble!! :)

"I'm saying that I'm an insect who dreamt he was a man...and loved it. But now the dream is over..and the insect is awake." - Seth Brundle

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 2:12am.
Terminal's picture

You tell your mom on me and I'm not going to lend you my baseball cards anymore.

I'm not thin skinned, ask any of my doctors. Especially on the internet in response to text from people I'll likely never meet in real life. It's the internet.

But no, I more pointed my preface comment toward you and then explained that I'm not going to cushion my views for the crybabies which wouldn't automatically be directed at you. It would only if you decided to take it that way. So in this case I can safely assume it's you with the thin skin friend-o. I mean I am more than in my right to bash horror fans, you were the one who retorted assuming it had something to do with you.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 2:23am.
napalmfuzz's picture

If either your negative review of, or refusal to see the new nightmare on elm street include "It shouldn't have been remade" or "Robert Englund is the only Freddy." Please stop reviewing movies now. Your services are no longer needed. Us adults will take over from here.

Submitted by napalmfuzz on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 2:17pm.

Maybe you should shut your mouth idiot. Let the reviewers take over from here. Go ahead and buy whatever the capitalist studios tell you too, just like a good little consumer. And then go home and watch American Idol. LOL. I will download this illegally and never pay for it. This company will not see a dime of my money. Ever.

Submitted by spiderthunder90 on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 4:34pm.
Floydian Trip's picture

You adults that are part of the problem with the genre today by continuously feeding the machine and proving to the suits that they know what's best? Download the movie. Even if you like it you shouldn't be supporting it at the box office. The independant and foriegn horror films of today are the ones that deserve to be on 3,000 screens with decent marketing behind them. Hollywood needs to start losing money. It's the only way they'll learn. Money is the only thing they care about. Horror fans today are embarrassing when they just accept mediocrity, roll over and die.

It's never too late. Horror will never die. It can and needs to turn around. It's all ass backwards. A great horror film like Trick 'r Treat gets tossed onto video with little to no marketing whatsoever while this remake, directed by someone who admittedly doesn't even like the genre gets a million dollar ad campaign and daily coverage on every horror website on the internet along with Twilight. Lord help me.

Submitted by Floydian Trip on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 3:41pm.

I fully agree with this sentiment but there is also a counterpoint that should be brought up. If horror movies in general start losing money, we'll see a return to the '90s where no horror gets a major release unless it can be attached to another genre entirely. I think a big point that needs to be acknowledged is that independent and foreign horror will never get a major release no matter how well one-off flukes like Paranormal Activity do. They don't fit in a system that will only support safe bets. Hollywood is part of the problem, yes, but so are major theater chains. Most won't take a chance on those small horror films because they can't be guaranteed a return. Don't just point the finger at Hollywood. If you want to boycott Hollywood then also boycott the Regals and Carmikes and other major chains in favor of small, independently owned theaters. They're hard to find today because major chains have tried to run them out of business but if you can pump your money into them then please do so. They offer a much larger benefit as they're more willing to take a chance on fringe films.

Submitted by AngryChairr on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 7:22pm.
Vanvance1's picture

Fair enough and this is why the majority of my movie bucks have gone to blu rays of said European horror films.

Honestly the theatrical experience sucks ass now. I can't go to a movie now without two dozen annoying teens texting with bright OLED screens for the length of the film.

Big screen tv, surround sound rig, lossless audio codecs and whatever snack food I decree. That's 90% of my movie watching now.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 1:42am.
Katsumi's picture

I agree with na lot of this...

My video store doesn't even carry the movie Trick R Treat and we just got it on VOD last week is it good?

Submitted by Katsumi on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 4:42pm.
Terminal's picture

Katsumi please get Trick R Treat. It's such an excellent horror film and the PERFECT movie to watch on Halloween. I highly, highly suggest it.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 1:58am.
Katsumi's picture

Sweet I'll have to try and get my VOD to work in a bit then, I've been wanting to see it, just I never heard anything on it, if it was good or not... If I cant get VOD to watch I'll prolly try and find it online..

Speaking of Online you can now watch NOES online

Submitted by Katsumi on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 3:29am.
Terminal's picture

Trick R Treat is excellent. It's an orgasmic halloween flick.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 4:18am.
Vanvance1's picture

It's REALLY good.

Great sense of fun and amusing all the way through.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 1:42am.
FireRam's picture

Trick R Treat kicked ass!!!

Ahem: PLEASE MAKE A SECOND! Put the remakes,reimagining,redux,reinvents down for a minute and make a sequel to Trick R Treat!!
Oh, and throw The Headless Horseman in this one somewhere along the line.

Submitted by FireRam on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 12:45pm.
Cinemascribe's picture

Just wanted to commend you on an excellent review, Heather. I caught the film Friday night and, for the most part, I agree with you( I feel differently about the makeup, however. I got the willies every time they showed his face ,so it obviously worked for me) . I was extremely entertained (more than I had expected to be, actually) and I found myself in awe of Haley's interpretation of the character. Here was Fred Krueger..truly scary again at last. I saw nothing in the film that deserved such a critical thrashing.

"They say when the heart stops , the brain continues to work for seven minutes. That means we have six more minutes to play." - Fred Krueger

Submitted by Cinemascribe on Sun, 05/02/2010 - 12:05am.
Matt Serafini's picture

This is tied with Zombie's Halloween films for the worst remake ever.

It's fucking pitiful and fails in every single regard. Haley is a terrible Freddy - delivering NOTHING new to the role - and the dream sequences are bland and forgettable.

No scares, no suspense.

Worst film of 2010. No question.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 12:05am.
moderator While I'll agree it was not
Debi Moore's picture

While I'll agree it was not a good film by any means ... worst remake ever? Far from it. Try The Hitcher, Black Christmas, When a Stranger Calls, One Missed Call, and many others. I think someone's letting his emotional attachment to the original cloud his judgment a bit.

But yeah, NOES 2010 definitely has its share of problems. #1 is the age of the actors. Every one of them is way too old to be believable as a high schooler. And then they killed off the three best actors right away, leaving Mara and Gallner to sleepwalk (no pun intended) through their roles. Kyle did the best with what he had, but Rooney's performance was basically non-existent. Katie Cassidy should have been Nancy -- and the character should have been re-written to have, oh, I don't know, maybe a smidgen of a personality.

And then you have the parents. I'm sorry, but if every single one of the kids my child went to pre-school with had dropped dead up this point, I might have shown a little more concern then either Britton or Brown did. Why even have these characters if they're not going to do anything but stand around and act stupid?

As for Freddy, well, I was pretty stoked when Haley was first hired, but he just brought nothing to the part. No menace, no anger, no scares whatsoever. But I don't think it was his fault -- I blame the script, the director, and the producers for not watching the dailies and realizing how off the mark his portrayal was.

All in all, this is not the worst thing I've seen so far this year, but it's definitely floating near the bottom. 2/5 at best.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 12:36pm.
Rorschach's picture

Jocelin Donahue from HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (a truly awesome film, IMO) would have been so much BETTER as Nancy that it's just heartbreaking to think about. Hell, I don't know what they were putting in the water on set, but whatever it was, it seems like Rooney Mara drank an absolute ASSLOAD of it and it sedated her more than a handful of reds ever would.

Jesus. There's sleepwalking through a role...then there's being absolutely COMATOSE. And she's the goddamn fucking heroine of the film! Just horrid.

Submitted by Rorschach on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 10:31pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

Not really ... the reason why I feel this ranks among the worst remakes ever is because Wes Craven's film was such a brilliant concept. This one was made by people who couldn't even make a good Friday the 13th film - they had no shot at taking something high concept and making it work.

Back X-mas? It's very stupid, but I think it's fun. The Hitcher? When a Stranger Calls? I actually think it's an okay little movie.

This? I don't even know where to start. The overly 'complicated' script that dilutes the original premise with a stupid 'did he or didn't he' mystery in which we already know the answer to. The lack of any scares except of lazy "jumps", or the uninspired performance of JEH?

Believe me, I'm a much bigger Friday fan than Freddy. And Friday was like a punch in the gut to me personally, but this ... it's a worse movie. Because the filmmakers didn't try to do anything interesting with the material. They just changed things up for no real reason and shot this out there to make a few quick bucks before Iron Man 2 erases it from existence.

Those other movies are shitty, sure. But this one was insulting.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 7:37pm.
moderator To me, the only even
Debi Moore's picture

To me, the only even semi-interesting part was the "did he or didn't he?" angle, and of course they took the easy way out. But yeah, the jump scares were the worst, and the absolute waste of Haley was inexcusable. I can't bear the thought of two more of these (supposedly both Haley and Mara signed up for three from the get-go) unless they give it a major overhaul and bring on a decent director who can stand up to Platinum Dunes' meddling.

Submitted by Debi Moore on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 8:20pm.
FireRam's picture

Here's how bad this could be for me. I started to watch it online for free. Yes, I might have still gone to see it in the theatre, just like IRON MAN 2 (I watched it yesterday in it's entirety and have every intent on going out to the theatre this weekend), but turned it off. AND IT WAS FREE! I made it to where Kris was killed. I was like "Is that it"? Not to mention, really they had lost me when you got your first good look at Freddy,the classroom scene where he was at the chalkboard. He just looked and sounded like crap! So, once the first major kill (Kris) of a somewhat (and I'm reaching here) was that weak, I was out.

My name is FireRam, and I approved this message.

Submitted by FireRam on Mon, 05/03/2010 - 8:35pm.
frank_dracman's picture

I really can't see where all the hate for this movie is coming from. What was everyone expecting? Sure, it was bland and unoriginal, but PD has done much worse. I compare this one to the Wolfman. It's watchable, but forgettable.

Submitted by frank_dracman on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 11:48am.
LifeMi's picture

I thought you weren't going to go see it. Morbid curiosity got the better of you, eh? Definetely looking forward to what you and the other guys have to say about it on the next DFF.

Submitted by LifeMi on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 12:21am.
Matt Serafini's picture

Well, when I got that Nightmare on Elm Street Blu-ray and a free ticket with it, I thought, "what the hell ... I'll check it out."

I wish I didn't, but I needed to know.

And now I do. :(

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 12:33am.
LifeMi's picture

You didn't have to pay anything, huh? Lucky. I gave seven bucks of my hard-earned money to that shitfest. I don't even want to think about what they're going to do to The Monster Squad or The Birds if those remakes ever get made.

Submitted by LifeMi on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 12:57am.
e-x-i-t's picture

yeah, i don't see the logic behind casting naomi watts in a totally redundant and unappealing remake...oops - i was thinking of "funny games". my bad.

plus they have to compete with "birdemic". poor bastards.

Submitted by e-x-i-t on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 5:32pm.
Terminal's picture

I think we can all agree that at this point they're going to utterly destroy the remakes for Monster Squad and The Birds.
"We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life."

Submitted by Terminal on Sat, 05/01/2010 - 6:26am.

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