A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy
A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.
Visually faithful but lacking the depth and subversive twists that made the original so memorable, the Nightmare on Elm Street remake lives up to its title in the worst possible way.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 30 Apr 2010 Released:
  • 05 Oct 2010 DVD Release:
  • $62.0M Box office:


As A Long Time Fan of the Series, I Hated This One2/10
Let me start out by saying that I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 6. Ever since, I've loved every sequel (well, maybe except the 2nd). A Nightmare on Elm Street is my favorite film of all time. That's not an exaggeration. It was not a perfect film, but it was suspenseful and gory.

The remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street was terrible.

You're hearing it from a hardcore fan. I was not someone against Platinum Dunes making the remake. I was fine with letting Robert Englund go. I was just excited to see Freddy once again on the big screen. I wish I hadn't. This was worse than the Halloween remake. Worse than the Texas Chainsaw remake. Worse than the AMITYVILLE HORROR remake. Stay far, far away.

You know you have problems when Freddy is revealed five minutes into the film. Not in a silhouette, but in full make-up. Right away we know the writers aren't looking to create suspense. That's what made the first one work, so why in the hell would we keep it here? It's never a mystery as to who or what Freddy is. Granted, with all his popularity, it might seem pointless to keep him hidden, but it would've made his character a hell of a lot scarier.

The acting is on par with the Twilight series. It's a one-note job for everyone available, even for Freddy. Robert Englund made it work because of his unpredictability. Jackie Earle Haley, a very good actor, is clearly given a poor script to work with. His one-liners aren't scary. They're not funny. They're just terrible. Haley had just as much to say as Freddy in his funny-days, but the difference here is how contrived his dialogue is. I watched "Freddy's Dead" right before the premiere to lower my bar for this film, and I found myself wanting to watch that one all over again. THAT SHOULD NOT HAPPEN.

The original didn't have the best actors by a long shot (not even Johnny Depp), but they felt real enough to root for them. Here, Rooney Mara and her good-looking cast create no sympathy. They just don't feel like real people.

The whole mystery IS FREDDY A GOOD GUY plot? Terrible (word of the day). I don't want to spoil anything but...come on...this is Freddy Krueger we're talking about. He was scary because we didn't know much about him. As soon as you throw in a back story, he's just any other killer. Remember when Freddy wasn't just any other killer? Good days...good days...

Oh, and SPOILER ALERT....there's only 4 deaths. But, unlike the original, they're poorly placed throughout the story. You shouldn't have to sit through 40 minutes of a phony, pointless mystery in order to NOT see anyone get killed. And the deaths themselves are unimaginative, perhaps the most boring of all the 7 films. Thanks for playing it safe, Platnium Dunes, that should rake in a few more target audience members.

The original Elm Street is beginning to show its age. Still, nearly 30 years later, the original is still more terrifying than this play-it-safe-and-by-the-numbers reboot. I'm appalled by the wasted talent of Haley. This new series won't draw in any new fans like the studio hoped. This new series doesn't cater to the original fans. This new series is...well, just like every other reboot in recent memory; it was created out of greed, not entertainment. As a lifetime Freddy fan, I find myself sad to say that this franchise is dead.

And my coupon for a free ticket I got in the blu-ray edition of ANOES isn't eligible at AMC theaters. I hate you, Platinum Dunes.
Where was the whimsical world of nightmares?3/10
The first scene was my favorite part. Through the remainder of the movie Freddy's voice became more of an annoyance and distraction than a cause for fear (very similar to Christian Bale's Batman). I entered the movie expecting to get whisked away to the wonderful dream-world of Freddy Krueger but was instead pulled into a high school slasher film promoting a typical killer with a grudge and thirst for blood. The fact the victim was trapped inside a dream battling with Freddy wasn't quite enough to satisfy the sense of a nightmarish killer's dream world. The movie lacked the demented mental toyings a character like Freddy should possess (e.g. Pennywise). At the premier, the entire theater let out a "Boo" at the end of the movie. I recommend watching the original Freddy movies instead.
Incredibly disappointing, a slap in the face to true horror fans2/10
Picture the 1984 horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. Now picture that film if it was produced by bombastic Michael Bay, director of Pearl Harbor and the Transformers films. Now picture all of the worst possible outcomes of that marriage.

You don't have to. You could just plunk down your hard-earned cash – better yet, don't – for this lame remake.

Not that I can stop you from seeing it. No number of bad reviews (and this will be just one of many) would have kept me away. Curiosity alone demanded I see the new Elm Street, so when a critic buddy asked if I'd like to tag along to a screening, I did.

I mean, it couldn't be awful, right? It's a darker take on a character that had fallen into parody. Its screenplay was co-written by Wesley Strick, who has worked with Martin Scorsese (1991's Cape Fear). And supernatural killer Freddy Krueger is played by Jackie Earle Haley, an Oscar-nominated actor who was so creepy as Rorschach in Watchmen. How bad could it be?

Really bad, it turns out. Astonishingly, amazingly, how-could-you- possibly-screw-this-up-any-worse bad.

Samuel Bayer, a longtime music video director making his feature-film debut, accomplished his stated goal of draining away all the cheeky fun of the Freddy films. Unfortunately, he also drained away all the scares. What's left is a dreary, poorly-lit slog with uninteresting characters, wooden acting and a complete lack of tension, suspense or energy.

We could spend all day talking about the problems, but two big ones sink this new Nightmare all on their own.

The first is the new Freddy – he's not scary at all. (Robert Englund's original Freddy at least was creepy for a couple of films before falling into camp.) Haley's tiny frame makes Freddy look puny and his voice sounds like an even-more-ridiculous take on the raspy Christian Bale "Batman" voice.

Haley's not helped by the terrible new Freddy makeup, which presumably is supposed to look like a more "realistic" burn victim, but it robs him of any expression. Freddy's not scary; worse, he's not even interesting.

You'd expect the new Nightmare to provide some creative new "kills," but that's the second huge problem. There are only a handful of kills throughout, and the better ones are taken directly from the 1984 original. In fact, fans of the original will note several virtually- identical scenes, all of them done on a higher budget but without a whit of artistry.

Special note has to be made of the acting, which (with a couple of exceptions) is dreadful. I'll blame Bayer, because a few of these folks have been decent in other things, but they're laughable here. (I'm pretty sure Thomas Dekker was attempting to portray Casey Affleck if Casey Affleck had suddenly completely forgotten how to act. And he's one of the better ones.)

Of all the leads, only Kyle Gallner manages to bring some desperately- needed personality and humor to the proceedings. Gallner single-handedly makes the final act interesting, since you'll have wanted every other character dead from the opening minutes.

But he can't overcome Bayer's clueless direction, which telegraphs every shock and dream sequence from a mile away. One of the most effective elements of an Elm Street film is the subtle slide back and forth from the real world to the dream world. Bayer doesn't get this at all. Every dream sequence is clearly defined, completely destroying any suspense.

The film spends two-thirds of its running time having its leads uncover Freddy's "story," which is ridiculous because it's a story everyone already knows. It momentarily plays with a slight twist on the original plot – a second of creativity, emerging like a flower through a crack in the sidewalk – then immediately chucks it.

Don't get me wrong: I love horror films. I don't even ask too much of them. I only ask that they be either A) scary or B) fun. If they can be both, that's awesome.

But with none of A and far too little of B, the new Elm Street barely rises above an F.
Jumpscare on Lame Street1/10
I figured this would be an entertaining remake if nothing else, I was wrong. Dead wrong. There was a much richer mysterious element to the original film and to my surprise, much more creative. I thought the kills and nightmare sequences would be vastly improved upon, but alas, gigabytes, greenscreens and CGI cannot compete with hands-on creativity.

The biggest question is of course whether a new Freddy is/was a good idea and I tried to give Jackie a chance; ultimately you can interchange actors playing Jason, Leatherface and Michael, they are suits and masks but you can't replace a personality. Known personalities such as Pinhead and Freddy Krueger ARE Robert Englund and Doug Bradley with prosthetics. Robert Englund brought us a believably creepy and demented sadistic killer where Jackie looked and acted like a pedophile. There were a handful of lines I enjoyed such as the 'body dying but brain living on' speech, but the rest seemed like plagiarized, recycled and poorly delivered lines selectively stolen from all the Nightmare films. (ex. Robert's "Your eyes say no, no, but your body says yes, yes." From Freddy vs. Jason)

I don't understand why everything needs to be explained in full now. I hate that. I didn't need to know what the force was, Michael Myers mom was a stripper? Oh, okay, his killing is justified. I don't care that Jason Voorhees played hockey and was prolific in archery and I don't care that Leatherface has no nose. Some things are more frightening if you don't know why or aren't given a chronological map of where everything went wrong. Where was the creepy nightmare goat in this film? Did they have to cut the sequence showing a young Fred Krueger as a goat-herder on his family farm? In the 1984 film, what Freddy did with kids was implied but never told in full. That gives the viewer the right to view him in any matter, even as an anti-hero. The new film stamps it on your forehead that he was doing unsavory things to children which more or less made me sick and made the character less likable. (I always did find it funny that Freddy had such a cult following and appeal with kids as a child killer, but it worked. Here it does not.)

The CGI becomes a distraction here; it's when things look too perfect that they lose believability such as Freddy bending the wall above Nancy. The original was creepier and it was produced in camera. The kills were boring. "I fall asleep, Freddy shows up, Freddy says something, I'm stabbed, I'm dead." Remember Rod (1984) being slowly strangled by bed sheets? That was scary, creative and left people thinking that perhaps Nancy was imagining Krueger and that Rod had hung himself. The new 'Nancy in the bathtub' scene was a boring cop-out and seemed more or less to be suggesting that it could be frightening. Even Tina's death being dragged across the ceiling was more vicious and sadistic in the original. EVERY 'scare' in this film is the cliche loud music and somebody jumping into frame.

I couldn't care less about the kids in this film, they are bratty and almost apathetic/nihilistic to the idea that they were being stalked in their sleep. Forget about brewing coffee in your closet, these kids are popping pills and using needles to stay awake this go around. I didn't buy that they were sleep deprived as the actors had shaggy or ratty hair and clothes, baggy eyes and looked strung out on heroin since the beginning of the film. The unnecessary 30 second video blog cameo by the likable Asian stoner from the Friday the 13th remake was the only time anyone seemed like they wanted to live.

The simplified story, CG, and casting aren't the only problems, the screenplay seems to be jumbled as certain characters have been blended and displaced. The 'Tina' character or 'Kris' in this film seems to take on most of Nancy's research early on in the film imposing the belief that she was the lead actress. I'm not sure if that was the goal of the screenwriter, but it wasn't a very clever or effective trick if that was the intent. The altogether renaming of the characters and traits begs the question of why even do it in the first place? Why not just make a new sequel with a great script and high production value?

This film, to me, was more like a terrible modern high school cliff-notes adaptation than a remake. It brought nothing new to the table and improved on nothing. As a film it was outperformed on every level by it's 26 year old predecessor. I truly hope this dies terribly at the box-office and that talk of a sequel gets slashed from the mouths of New Line and producers of this sacrilege. Shame on everyone involved in this crap. Even the worst sequel to the original series has more entertainment value.

I am not a purest, I was looking forward to this and I have enjoyed most of the remakes to a certain degree.

A Remake on Elm Street5/10
With remakes being inevitable, I'd prefer that they be based on flawed originals. The new Clash of the Titans, in concept tried to do this. This is my stance on remakes. The trouble is that Hollywood green lights remakes of popular, good, movies because of their justifiable built-in fan bases. The 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street was a refreshing, novel, approach to the slasher subgenre film. I can understand why Platinum Dunes would have was well-known music video director Samuel Bayer helm its remake.

A Nightmare on Elm Street focuses on a group of teens that share haunting nightmares. When they go to sleep, they have demented dreams of a maniacal burn victim named Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley). Freddy chases the kids through his world and if he can get his knife-tipped glove on them, they die in the real world. The remaining teenagers are then tasked with insomnia as they search for the reason why Freddy wants them dead.

I'll start with the positives. From an acting and casting standpoint Jackie Earle Haley is the guy you want in this role. He has a haunting voice that he modulates with perfection, coming up with his own unique take on the notorious Mr. Krueger. When combining his talents with the usual high production values (for horror films) provided by Platinum Dunes, you get a workable formula. Unlike the other films, but like Platinum Dune's other remakes, there is an attempt at a Freddy Krueger origin story. It just so happens I like the way this part of the movie is told and having the cursed teens see it in their dreams is interesting.

With these elements working in the film's favor, there are many conflicts elsewhere. Notable among these are redundant dream sequences. The settings sometimes change but they almost all play the same way: teenagers walk through eerie environments followed by a Freddy attack. For a screenwriter to be so lacking in imagination is mind-boggling. Freddy's costume is easily recognizable, but the new burn victim look of his face is unappealing. Chances are a real life Freddy would look more like this than he did in the '80s, but The English Patient is not a frightening countenance.

What mars the first half of the film is an insistence on not developing characters. We assume these are high school kids, who mysteriously are devoid of personalities, and then they die. I understand the concept of an ensemble cast, but when main players take such a backseat that when they finally move to the front of the minivan we don't know them.

Despite a rocky start things do turn around, but our unfortunately thickheaded protagonists are slow to put things together. They should be going on about a week of sleep deprivation, but the new Nancy (Rooney Mara) seems only mildly annoyed. When Heather Langenkamp played Nancy, she was just as active but with more lines we had a better understanding of her frustration.

The biggest problem of all is that the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street is not scary. Scare tactics all center on sound effects and it gets old fast. Every time Freddy appears there is a scream of some kind that pierces the ears of the audience. No one is jumping at fright; maybe some will jump at the surprise. This is silly, outdated, and uncreative.

After Remake on Elm Street, Platinum Dunes is seemingly out of horror franchise fodder. Almost all of their remakes have been critically lambasted, but most of them managed to be profitable. I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that they plan to shell out as many sequels as the original franchises generated, but I'd prefer that action since it would keep them busy and off of more esteemed films.