A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Movie Review

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If there’s a sudden run on No-Doze and Red Bull, thank the folks over at Platinum Dunes. Their latest effort is a frighteningly crafty film, one that keeps viewers perched on the edge of their seat from start to finish. At long last, New Line is taking Freddy seriously again–and so will you.

The basic premise of the “Elm Street” series is retained for the 2010 makeover; years ago a janitor named Freddy Krueger was hunted down by a group of angry parents determined to get justice from Freddy for harming their children. Trapping Freddy in an abandoned building, the parents burn him alive and sweep this incident under the rug. But Freddy refuses to go quietly into the night, returning when the children have grown into adolescents and murdering them while they dream.

Soon, only two of Freddy’s original victims remain — Quentin and Krueger’s favorite Nancy. With no one to turn to but each other, they must discover who Freddy was, and why the parents of Springwood are so desperate to erase him from memory. But Krueger has plans of his own, specifically for Nancy, whom he plans on trapping in the dream world and endlessly assaulting. The pair head to Krueger’s old lair, hoping to drag him into the real world and kill him once and for all–but he’s waiting for them with plans of his own.

If there ever was a character that cried out to be rebooted, it was Freddy Krueger. Since his introduction in 1984, he began devolving over the course of sequels and a half baked television series; Freddy stopped being scary and became ridiculous, a cartoonish killer spouting one liners while offing teens in predictable fashion. The reboot puts the menace back in Krueger, a nightmare so scary it’d make Carl Jung pack up his archetypes and head for the hills. He still has his patented one liners, but the humor is drained out of them and replaced with an undertow of dread. Inheriting the role is Jackie Earle Haley, and he makes it his own so effectively that when the final credits roll, you’ll be struggling to remember who his predecessor was.

The “Elm Street” remake has more to offer than just an amazing lead, it boasts a whip smart script by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer. They take a gamble by introducing Freddy as a mystery, essentially reintroducing him by having the surviving teens piece clues together until the truth is revealed. Crafty move, because by doing this the franchise’s old convoluted mythology is swept away and there’s now a clean slate to work with.

Doing this also allows them to mold Freddy into a more repellent form; he’s not just a killer of children, he’s a sadistic molester with a penchant for innocent little girls. The writers also create a nifty plot device, basically a micro-nap. Sleep deprived characters involuntarily nod off without warning, allowing Freddy to strike anywhere. Granted it’s a bit of a cheat, but it keeps the audience on edge while constantly guessing when Freddy will leap out.

Equally impressive is the direction by Samuel Bayer, a novice film director but an experienced music video helmer. Bayer effectively balances gory kills with shock scares; he spills plenty of blood but is saavy enough to use Freddy’s menace and ability to appear out of thin air to inject fear into the audience. Also admirable is his vision of Freddy’s boiler room, a place the character is most identified with. Under Bayer, it becomes a demonically possessed industrial workplace, complimenting the dark visual poetry so rarely seen in horror films of recent years.

Sadly, the film’s only flaw is a fairly big one: aside from Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy, the rest of the cast seem so bland and generic they’re practically nonexistant. Clancy Brown and Connie Britton appear to be the only adults around and their screen time pretty limited. Most of the performances feel phoned in as if the actors were just killing time until better roles presented themselves. Kyle Gallner is scattershot as Quentin, who wanders around the film looking as if he can’t decide whether to be scared or just mildly concerned. Even worse is Rooney Mara’s turn as the pivotal Nancy, who looks so dim you’d think she has to pre-plan every breath. None of the other teens in the film stand out either, they just meander in and out while trying to stay out of the way of the storyline.

“Nightmare on Elm Street” has a few flaws, but this is a rare instance where the film’s good qualities overcome the negative. In an era where moviegoers lament the lack of originality in horror movies, “Elm Street” is a sharp rebuke, one that shows a neglected character can be remade into an imaginative feature. All in all, the new “Nightmare” is an amazing reinvention of a classic character that’s sure to please old fans and new viewers alike.

Samuel Bayer (director) / Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer (screenplay)
CAST: Jackie Earle Haley … Freddy Krueger
Kyle Gallner … Quentin Smith
Rooney Mara … Nancy Holbrook
Katie Cassidy … Kris Fowles
Thomas Dekker … Jesse Braun
Kellan Lutz … Dean Russell
Clancy Brown … Alan Smith
Connie Britton … Dr. Gwen Holbrook


Buy A Nightmare on Elm Street on DVD

Author: Joseph Savitski

Joseph is a contributing writer for BeyondHollywood.com and ScifiCool.com, where he critiques movies, television, and books. He lives in PA, and obsessively loves movies, books, and the New York Yankees.
  • pr2589

    @ Larry
    Rob Zombie should just go back to music he had a creative idea for halloween remake by showing how michael came to be
    good idea but Zombie managed to ruined it by directing it had he just wrote it it would hav been better
    now then this movie wasnt a good as it could have been there def need improvements but it had they just stuck with the whole they were all kids in the same school when they were younger and kept it to that and made it seem more like a town secret like the original i think it would have been better
    and i loved the idea that Freddy could hav infact been innocent and the movie would have been much better if it turned out he was innocent
    that way when they do the sequel they could show how an innocent man because a demon that haunts kids dreams
    i also liked that he was after the kids all along not like in the original where he killed the kids to get back at the parents
    all in all had this movie had not connections to Michael Bay or Platinum Dunes it would prolly have been a lot better since all the other horror movie remakes like amityville horror, friday the 13th, texas chainsaw were done by Platinum Dunes and they all sucked b/c of that

  • Tian

    What is wrong with you people ? It was awesome ! Shut the fuck up !

  • matt r

    it lost the best part of friday the 13th, the humor. if you wanted to watch a straight up, blood splattering slasher, you watched friday the 13th, if you wanted to laugh as well as release the contence of your bowls, you watched nightmare on elm street. if this was a stand alone film, i would of loved it as it is the first truely scary film in years, however i felt freddy was a little flat and Jason Voorhees-ish which is not who i wanted to see. i wanted to see freddy. is this a good film, yes it is with out a doubt. Is it rememberable? no

  • matt r

    “it lost the best part of friday the 13th,”see i couldnt even remember what film i saw, i ment nightmare on elm st

  • matt r

    it lost the best part of friday the 13th, the humor. if you wanted to watch a straight up, blood splattering slasher, you watched friday the 13th, if you wanted to laugh as well as release the contence of your bowls, you watched nightmare on elm street. if this was a stand alone film, i would of loved it as it is the first truely scary film in years, however i felt freddy was a little flat and Jason Voorhees-ish which is not who i wanted to see. i wanted to see freddy. is this a good film, yes it is with out a doubt. Is it rememberable? no

  • matt r

    “it lost the best part of friday the 13th,”see i couldnt even remember what film i saw, i ment nightmare on elm st

  • Mercedessnkevin

    I love most remakes like halloween, halloween 2, friday the 13th, my bloody valentine 3d, black christmas, house of wax, the univited, the grudge etc. And they usually r h8ed but tis remake seemed boring and i stopped watching for the fact that add chapaghnes kept cummin up. But i will give it annother try.

  • Patriciabaker02

    I totally agree with you. The person who played Freddy did not look like the old freddy at all. They just took old scenes from all the other movies and pieced together. The plot was okay but the story line was boring. i though the movie was long and kinda of played out. Wes Craven should be upset about what the did to his movie. All though the gore was good the rest of the movie kinda of sucked. I was disappointed i cannot believe i spent my money on that movie. I too am a very big fan of nightmare on elm street I love those movies and will continue loving them even if the remake sucked.

  • Patriciabaker02

    I totally agree with that. They did a horrible job remaking his face it looked like crap and even his voice was not the same as the original Freddy. Maybe next time they will get the real person that played him or maybe actually watch the movies over and over until they get the character right.

  • Patriciabaker02

    Hey I am only in my 20 and i totally agree with everyone they did a real real crappy job on this remake the worst i have seen yet. They messed up freddys apperance and his voice was way different than the original freddy.All in all the Movie sucked. I wish I could get a refund for this damn terrible remake.