A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010)

APRIL 30, 2010


So far, I have gotten at least some enjoyment out of every Platinum Dunes production. I genuinely like their first four films (the two Chainsaws, Amityville, and of course The Hitcher), and thought Friday was problematic but at least better than the last 4-5 Jason movies. Hell, I even liked the first 45 minutes or so of The Unborn and a few moments here and there of The Horsemen. But A Nightmare On Elm Street did absolutely nothing for me. Not once in its entire 95 minute runtime was I given any reason to care about a single thing on the screen, and the only emotion I ever felt was anger every time the script by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer insulted my intelligence.

Unlike Friday, this one follows the plot of the original fairly closely in a general sense, and even recycles a few names (Nancy, and even a Jesse), and the Kris character is a complete copy of the original's Tina (right down to the body bag school hallway nightmare). Some key moments are re-staged, such as Freddy's glove rising out of the bathwater, Kris/Tina's death, and her boyfriend being blamed for it, etc. As I've said before, this is not my preferred way of going about a remake - keeping the basic concept is fine, but redoing major scenes just seems lazy. But it's twice as bad here, because a lot of the "iconic" things that they repeat don't actually make sense in the context of this story, which has some major changes (which I will now "spoil", so turn away if you don't want the film's ill-conceived "twist" "ruined").

This time around, Freddy is not a child murderer, he's a child molester. So then why would he still have a razor sharp glove? Wouldn't he have trouble doing his thing with a bunch of knives for a hand? We get a glimpse or two of him cutting the children, but this just seems like an excuse to justify the glove, since it doesn't really make any sense (why would he cause visible harm to the children if he intended to keep his sick habits a secret?). They also repeatedly bring back the boiler room, which also has no significance to the plot as Freddy died in a warehouse and took the children into a hidden room.

That's just one of the major idiotic holes in this script. We are also expected to believe that the parents would (very poorly) hide incriminating evidence that depicts what happened to their children, despite the attempt to keep them from knowing about it (one even keeps a sliced up shirt, in a box labeled "Kids stuff" or something of that nature, right in the middle of the attic). And there's an unexplained throwaway line that no one knows Freddy existed, but if that's the case then why did the school get closed down, if there was no known crime? And why didn't anyone remove things from the school when they closed it to boot? Our heroes go there at the end of the movie and there are parts of his glove in plain sight.

And why even go after the kids? The parents were the ones who killed him, but again, he wasn't a murderer this time around. In the original series, we just assume he's finishing what he started (killing off the Elm Street kids), but there doesn't seem to be any purpose for killing them here while leaving the parents alone. Then again, maybe he DID - it seems everyone only has a single parent; the Nancy standin has a mom (Connie Britton, completely wasted) but no Donald Thompson replacement. Clancy Brown is the apparently single dad of Kyle Gallner's character, but he is ALSO wasted - they should have just combined Brown and Britton into one character, so they'd only be wasting one good actor instead of two.

The kids are a dreadfully boring lot too, and for some reason it seems the more dull the actor, the longer they live. Kellan Lutz seems interesting (not to mention the only one who looks like he could take Freddy), but he dies in the first scene. Katie Cassidy (in her third remake at least, after When A Stranger Calls and Black Xmas) and Thomas Dekker are at least competent, and they have a previous relationship that is hinted at, but they die off in the first half as well. That leaves Gallner and the cute but woefully boring Rooney Mara (sister of Kate), neither of whom manage to create interesting heroes, and they barely have any chemistry either. And despite being in the entire movie, neither of them have any character development whatsoever - Mara jokingly asks Gallner what his favorite color is, and I swear it's supposed to be a "fuck you" to the audience for expecting them to try to create a character we would get to know a little and thus care what happens to them. And they're all incredibly dour people. Think about the original, with Johnny Depp screwing around with the tape player trying to convince his mom he was at his cousin's, or Nick Corri playing a prank on them - they were believable, enjoyable characters. These goons are all bitter (or in Nancy's case, just plain dull) even before Freddy comes along. I defy anyone to give me one reason why we should even care about Nancy, let alone the others.

And it might sound stupid, but the movie suffers greatly from an over-abundance of nightmare scenes. I swear, more than 50% of the movie takes place in the dream world, to the extent where it became more of a surprise when a scene was actually really happening. Not only does it get dull, it also makes Freddy less of a threat, because everyone falls asleep, encounters Freddy, and survives at least 3 times before finally getting killed (even Lutz, in his 5 minutes of screentime, manages to escape once). To their credit, they keep his jokes to a minimum (and they're a bit darker in tone to boot), but ultimately he's even less threatening than the quipster Freddy from Dream Master.

As for Haley, well, he's OK I guess. With a script this terrible, it's hard to tell if he's just a lousy Freddy or if the script prevented him from being a good one. His diminutive size is definitely a problem - not that he needs to be a hulking brute, but he should at least look menacing compared to the very petite Thomas Dekker. And the makeup is frigging awful; he looks like a hamster in a hat.

The one good thing I can say about the movie is that it's at least competently shot by Samuel Bayer and Jeff Cutter. The widescreen imagery (all of the original Freddy movies were 1.85:1) is quite nice, and there are a few nice visuals to enjoy, such as when Cassidy falls asleep in her classroom and it turns into decrepit ash around her. And the nightmare scenes are believable, instead of the high concept style of the later sequels. Had there not been about 30 nightmare scenes, it would actually be hard to tell when one was occurring, because they are thankfully grounded in reality, or at least, with fantastical elements kept to a minimum (no comic book avenger or "roach motel" scenes here).

And, not to knock anyone's intelligence, but the concept of Nightmare on Elm Street is really just too heady for Platinum Dunes' brand of horror. Wes Craven's original film is rich with philosophical ideas; this one has sound-based jolt scares every five minutes. The film does nothing to reflect the current times - Gallner's character is on Ritalin, but that's about it. Nowadays, in addition to a highly medicated world, we hear stories about kids staying up playing video games for so long that they actually die, suicides because of internet bullying, etc, all of which could be tied into Freddy's world in interesting ways, because there SHOULD be some real world explanation for the kills in the movie, but they're all skipped over in favor of more boring "micro-nap" sequences. A good filmmaker team working with a creative script could have made a fantastic Nightmare movie, instead they all just settled for doing the absolute bare minimum.

Hilariously, the film's opening credits serve as a metaphor for the entire movie. Over some chalk drawings of strange things, we see all of the credits scrawled onto the pavement. It's a cool concept. But for whatever reason, they put regular Times New Roman (or whatever) credits over them. Which is just like the movie itself - a creative idea (not their OWN idea, but still) obscured by pointless, lowest common denominator blandness.

I usually don't actually encourage people to not see a movie, but this is one time I will. This is the worst type of remake, where they clearly didn't actually have any real ideas, but wanted to make money off the title and concept. It's a cynically made movie from start to finish, and as soulless a major horror film as I can recall (only Stepfather 2009 may be more creatively bankrupt). The optimist in me would like to think that if the film is a major box office failure, that Andrew Form and Brad Fuller will rethink their business strategy and start making low budget horror films again (remake or not), made by people who genuinely want to make them. Marcus Nispel was jonesing to take on Chainsaw - and it turned out pretty good (IMO). Samuel Bayer actually turned this movie down 2-3x before Michael Bay convinced him to do it (I'm guessing with hookers). And they actually tell this story as if it's a good thing. Maybe next time they'll work harder to generate a good script instead of apparently spending all of their energy trying to convince a guy to direct a bad one.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. Eesh. The original A Nightmare on Elm Street is my favourite horror movie of all time, and when I heard that Wes Craven wasn't even consulted about this remake I felt a weird kind of 'loyalty' to the guy, to the extent that I vowed not to go see this version. I was never convinced about the trailers, though I did think the make-up was pretty well done - but this review (along with every other review I've read so far, which all paint the film as a shameless cash-in, with a very few interesting moments but ultimately a pointless exercise) has cemented the decision to give this one a miss!

    I wonder if the criticism and fan reaction to this movie will finally be the response that make Andrew Form and Brad Fuller say 'fuck this noise' and do something else, or will the inevitable box office returns be enough to keep them doing this kinda thing?


  2. I am sooo disappointed and hurt by this (the movie, not your review) as an educated horror moviegoer and as a creative individual.

    Though I have not yet had the opportunity to see the film (and innate curiosity will most certainly bring me to do so), it simply amazes me that the gang at Platinum Dunes can continue pushing these insults upon an unsuspecting culture.

    While older fans will see this as an EPIC FAIL, younger viewers will come to expect this hackney style of filmmaking for years to come and pay MORE for it than we ever paid to see the originals.

    I mean, when even the positive reviews are inherently negative something must be wrong. How could any studio screw up such a simple formula so royally? Find the audiences deepest, darkest social fears, add some shadows and say "action." Dumbasses.

  3. I loved the line "If you die in your dreams you die for real" as if we didn't already go into the movie knowing that.

    I too thought it was terrible and I'm not one to hate on remakes just because they're remakes but when you completely steal a scene from the original and do it WORSE than it was done 20 years ago, how can you expect the movie to be good?

    Straight up trash. shameful

  4. Wasn't it well known that Freddy was a child molester in the original but they couldn't make it overt? That they made him a child killer and had you figure out the rest? That was how I always read the character.

  5. Wow, I might actually not see this movie based on your review here. That would be awesome.

  6. Thank-you so much for your very small observation affirming what I have said for months...the new make-up reminds me of a melted rodent, or of Gary Oldman in "Hannibal".

    Ugh, what an utter disaster!

    And the voice...someone get the man a lozenge!

  7. I say I pretty much agree with you. I didn't care about any of the kids and the overall telling was boooooring. The one thing I will give this: I liked the general Freddy backstory. In the original series, it wasn't always clear who the actually children of Elm Street were. I liked that the kids in this film were actual victims of pre-burn Freddy. The rest just wasn't executed very well. Freddy's makeup looked like crap and he talked like he was wearing ill-fitting false teeth. Everything was just so snooze-inducing. Glad I only paid $5 to see it ($10.25 for my popcorn and soda though).

  8. Your review is spot-on with my thoughts. However, I really do like Kyle Gallner as an actor (even if they missed an opportunity to put a decent young actor to good use like you said).

    Although the dreams were fairly grounded in reality, which was nice, I thought they really missed out on some of the strange dream logic that is terrifying. The only sequence that really had it was when Nancy is walking through the gooey blood in the hallway.

    I was mainly surprised at how uninterested/bored I was throughout the film. What the hell? I can handle lame. I can handle nonsensical. But boring? Nah...I'll pass.

  9. I started falling asleep the first 30 min of the movie... The rest of the movie (after I bought a coke) was extremely ill conceived and empty of heart. Of course it was filled with the usual slick PD and cine which is meaningless in the scope of things.
    I like the chalk and new times roman metaphor lol. Really the only thing this proved to me is that Jackey Earle Haley can do the voice of Batman in the next poorly edited batflick.

  10. I think I might be the only person who liked it... Idk. Tell me I have no taste, whatever. haha, I'm standing by it.

    My only complaint is that the movie felt rushed-- almost as if the filmmakers assumed that everyone knows the story so they can cut corners with story so that there would be more time for Freddy to jump out from behind the characters and "scare" us. lol

    Idk... so many are complaining that it doesn't capture the terror of the original. IMO the first wasn't terrifying... it was exciting, but mainly because we were introduced to a whole new playground (dream world) and its local bully (Freddy). The "terror" wore off after the first viewing. Again, just my little opinion.

    And I like J. Haley. I feel like saying this might send me straight to HORROR MOVIE HELL, but he gives Englund a run for his money. Don't get me wrong, at the end of the day Englund is still numero uno, but if a couple sequels to this remake come out and Haley nails it repeatedly (and the script doesn't abuse his sense of humor), well... I'll have to re-evaluate.

    Anyway, I'm just glad we're out of that phunk of Japanese remakes. At least we're on to American remakes... if history truly repeats itself, then any minute we should start getting some good ol' original American horror. :D

  11. i agree with anonymous..and with the original poster as well boths points are valid in description...but for what its worth it is a somewhat fun movie...and hey i woke up with some pretty good visual memories of it so its not that bad....but i would definately listen to the original poster to a degree.

    a date movie in my opinion...when u get bored ..just fondle your date.

  12. The characters - lame. A Joy Division shirt does not a character make.

    Dialogue - lame. When the blonde broad was crying in her bf's arms about dreaming and dying like the dude in the beginning. Just awful.

    Christian Bale Batman voice - lame.

    5'5 monster man standing on apple boxes when next to other actors - lame. I like the actor, but I think Freddy should be taller. However, I think he'd work great if Freddy was a monster that chased around 6th graders in their dreams and not teenagers. I'm still waiting for that movie: Freddy vs the Goonies or the Monster Squad or something to that effect, but no studio has the balls for that.

    The dreams were ok, but I wanted more phantasmagorical shit. The dreams definitely reflected the lack of character in the characters.

    The Mr. Penis-man drawing was the perv in me's favorite understated thing in the movie. Nancy has this child like penis drawing (cock n balls with a smiley face and some stick figure arms and legs) up by her mirror, you later see it again in Freddy's hideaway room. Perhaps the "bad" drawing that she made good with Freddy as a kid. I always thought Freddy was a child molester along with being a killer, but taking the child killer thing out is pretty retarded.

    I thought the Tarantino nod of having a character named Quentin, who stabs some adrenaline into a chick's heart was lame. Grow up fanboy.

    I would of had one of them run off with glove at the end too just because I like the idea of Freddy's glove floating around in sequels.

    blah blah blah

  13. So I saw this last night after prom (yes..I decided to go to the movies instead of an after prom party) and I was so disappointed. And a little hurt.

    I loved the first Nightmare on Elm Street movie. It's my favorite out of the entire series. So of course i'm going to be mad about this lame ass remake.

    I'm most angry about them portraying Freddy as a child molester. He was always a child murderer. He just seems like a complete pevert in this one and far less badass than original Freddy. And New Freddy's make up is just so awful.

    And I agree with what you said about the characters and I honestly did not care if any of the characters died.

    I feel like ive been slapped in the face by this movie.

  14. I seem to be the only one who liked the victims in this film. I must have been stoned - or I'm a sucker for teens in trouble.

    Anyway, there was so much wrong with the movie that I missed half the things you noted - and that's saying something, because I'm a real nit-picker.

  15. Well, at least they removed the house party opening scene with bong-circle. I smell Killer-Cut DVD...

  16. I'm also one of those who will burn in Horror movie hell, overall i liked it

    maybe it's that i don't expect horror movies to get any better, maybe its the sick weirdo in me, but i liked the retelling of freddy as a molester than just a killer (who's to say he never murdered a kid? he fabricates knife fingers) however awful, it gives a connection between him and the kids which makes things that much more personal, i'm just surprised they didn't try to fight back more often?

    as for his personality... at first i was pretty iffy, but i think we can all agree that when we saw old freddy, we were always delighted to see his giddy self running amok, so from what i take it, the idea was to make him pissed off and in no mood for jokes so as to be taken more seriously (which was difficult after seeing his living self squealing in a warehouse) even though that's about as back-asswards as making michale myers talk

    i will say that i don't care for cg unless it enhances atmosphere or make otherwise impossible effects um...possible, so there was no need for the "comming out of the wall" scene, and a few others, real is better even if its fake arms being dangled from fishing poles

    ah well, we've still child's play and hellraiser to whine over soon enough

  17. Im not a huge fan of the old ones, the original is cool, dream warriors is stupid awesome and new nightmare is pretty kool. Always thought Freddy was way overrated and I really dug Haley as Krueger (at times moreso than Englund). I loved his quip to Dekker as he has him hanging upside down, and thought the makeup was pretty sweet.

    But I agree with most of your review, it seems like they kept all the wrong things. The script was pretty awfully written (although I dont think the parents kept the sliced up shirt, it was part of Kris' dream), but I thought the actors, other than Mara whos kinda boring, were pretty good, especially Gallner.

  18. I agree with you on wondering why they decided to make Fred a child molester, maybe new millenium so new much more repulsive crime but unnecessary nonetheless. Overall, however, I liked the remake. Not better than the originals but wasn't sort of nice to see Kruger get back no mercy, no joking around relentless killing? I thought so, the special effects were good but not the greatest ever. I guess it's hard to be better than the original which had state of the art effects even back then, but whatever. The actors, you are right, nothing special, but my favorite part was the way the first victim died, making it look like he severely slit his own throat. Also the video of the kid's face hitting the screen after he fell asleep but to each his own.

  19. Having read some of the unflattering reviews beforehand, I came out of the theater not feeling cheated. I have been warned.

    The story was flat, the characters even flatter, teaser tub scene - unimaginative, pointless and lame.

    The only thing I did find unsettling was Freddy's appearance, so much more akin to a real burn victim. This movie just managed to reinforce my fear of open fire.

  20. "one even keeps a sliced up shirt, in a box labeled "Kids stuff" or something of that nature, right in the middle of the attic)."

    To be fair, that didn't actually happen. It was a dream Kris had in the attic.

  21. This was one of the worst remakes so far I agree with pretty much everything you said. Even if you hadn't seen the original, you would have still been scratching your head at the plot holes.
    As bad as the acting was back in the original, at least in some ways it had a plausible script. the whole time I was waiting for the explanation on how only Nancy could bring him back into reality? In the original it explains how Nancy and Glen devise a plan to bring Freddy out of their nightmares. In this weak remake, the only "explanation" is the fact that she was Freddy's "favorite" child.
    I thought there was also some major miscasting, personally I would have had Thomas Dekker playing Nancy's boyfriend and they should have just reprized the Glen character. At first I thought they were going to try and merge the first two movies, having a twist at the end where Jesse survives and goes on been possessed by Kruegar in the sequel, that would have been a perfect ending and nice tie in but oh no, that's way too clever for these fools to try and comprehend.
    Anyway apart from the obvious, this was really 92 minutes of my life I can't get back, lol.

  22. I thought that Kris was very well developed compared to the rest of the characters. Since she seemed to be the lead for the first 1/3 of the film, I was surprised that she met the same fate as her counterpart (Tina) from the original. That was about the only thing that was well done in the film. The deep throat slit of the first victim was pretty awesome, though. The glove was cool looking and I liked the scissoring effect. Too bad it was overused.

    Everyone here has been treating the two sides of the child killer/molester debate as mutually exclusive. I think that Kreuger could have easily, been both. It's not actually unusual for a child molester to kill his victims. Maybe the filmmakers intended it to be this way but backed off a bit. Maybe an unrated cut of the film will surface and make this a bit more clear.

    I don't mind Haley's height. Who says Freddy has to be big? To little kids he's still gigantic and those are the only people he can push around. Therefore, it slightly enhances the child molester angle.

    They did an excellent job of making him look like a burn victim. When most people see a burn victim they experience a range of emotions. Most notably shock/revulsion and compassion. Why would the filmmakers want to inspire compassion for this guy is beyond me. The classic look of Freddy was more monstrous. It also helped the Freddy was kept in the shadows quite a bit. Here, he's on screen way too much.

    Also, why in the world did Freddy take his coat off when he was about to be burned? Why the hell go to that trouble? As if his life depended on getting it off. It just felt like that was supposed to be an "oh, yeah" moment for us. Like, "Oh, yeah" that's why he has a red and green sweater. "

  23. Freddy in the original was always a sick fuck but Robert played him as a man that enjoyed it. It was who he was. In the remake he sounded all moody like a cliche serial killer showing no emotion. That is why i didnt like the new freddy.

  24. I don't understand the complaints about freddy's height. When I think of a childmollester I'd think of a small person who's to weak to do anything to anyone who's bigger 5 feet.... So making Freddy a bit smaller is actually not too shabby an idea.

  25. Coming into the party really late but I just have to say it because I've watched Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy about 5 times.

    Freddy (the original one) was originally a child murderer AND molester, the latter having to be dropped completely because of a case in California about a teacher molesting a bunch of children in a preschool (which.. is kind of what this is more based on, so kudos to that nod).

    That said, the remake really sucked, and Rooney Mara mumbled so much it drove me crazy.

  26. I haven't seen the remake yet (I have a tendency to view whole franchises I like, even the unbearable films), but when I saw the clip of the bath scene, I had flashbacks to the remake of Psycho. Also, the CG wall Freddy looks horrendous, even without the far better Spandex wall effect in the original to compare to.


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