A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

MPAA Rating:
R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language.
95 Minutes
Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
Samuel Bayer
Wesley Strick (screenplay)
Eric Heisserer (screenplay)
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Northwest Military's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on April 28th, 2010

Considering how terrified the characters in A Nightmare on Elm Street are of falling asleep, they sure do a lot of sleeping. More than anyone I know. They sleep in class, in the swimming pool, in front of the wheel of a car. They sleep constantly. There is rarely a scene in the film that does not turn out to be in the dream of a character.

And then, Freddy, you know ... slash.

This pattern, as you may imagine, becomes rather tiresome. It's strange to think this new Elm Street is a reboot. Featuring a totally different actor (Jackie Earle Haley) playing Freddy Krueger, it gives very little thought to the idea of, I don't know, improving upon the original.

For the very few even considering seeing this film, a summary: Teenagers in Springwood, Ohio, are afraid to go to sleep because they are doomed to be slaughtered by a sweater-wearing burn-victim named Freddy Krueger. They combat this in various ways, none successful except to never sleep. He died, you see, because he was molesting all of these future-teenagers, and the town rose up to slay him. He has returned in their dreams to get revenge. And when you die in your sleep, you die in real life.

I mentioned earlier that Freddy Krueger has been replaced by a different actor - a great actor by the name of Jackie Earle Haley. He's experienced a resurgence in recent years, with his roles in Little Children and Watchmen - proving to be great at the role of "tragic monster." Unfortunately, his skill is put to no use in this movie. He appears constantly throughout the movie, but is given absolutely nothing to work with. He gets to occasionally say dirty one-liners (nothing as fun as the original), but does not get the opportunity to really make Freddy scary.

It's not like Jaws, where the shark rarely appears, but it's chilling every time. From the very first scene, we know Freddy has the means and the ambition to effortlessly kill every interchangeable teen we meet in the film, and so his appearances become perfunctory.

What I mean to say is this is a film of lost opportunities. Of any of the horror movies of its era, I felt A Nightmare on Elm Street had the best chance of being even better remade with the technology of our time. All of the dream sequences have the potential to become horrifying, languid nightmares. If you look at a film like The Cell, the mistakes of Elm Street become even more glaring. In The Cell, we similarly follow a serial killer into the world of the psyche, and the surreal, beautiful, and truly terrifying nightmares of that film put Elm Street to shame.

It's hard to understand what the problem is. A Nightmare on Elm Street denies torture-porn, a commonplace genre in the horror of the new. But in its place, it does not give us terror or even silliness. The film violates the cardinal rule of horror: It is boring. - One out of four stars

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