A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 5th, 2010 at 10:34 am,

nightmare on elm street A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

Screen Rant Reviews A Nightmare On Elm Street

A Nightmare On Elm Street is yet another horror movie remake from Platinum Dunes, the same company behind the remakes of The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. Like those films I just listed, A Nightmare On Elm Street is a slickly-polished but ultimately hollow echo of what was originally a unique and enjoyable horror movie.

In this revamped version, a group of teens in a small town begin to die inexplicably in their sleep. Each of the victims confesses to having vivid nightmares shortly before their death – nightmares involving a terrible burned man in a striped sweater who wears a razored glove on one hand. As more victims get added to the body count, two of the teens uncover their town’s dark secret and the origins of this mysterious ghoul who is terrorizing their dreams.

What made Wes Craven’s version of  A Nightmare On Elm Street so enjoyable was the combination of a scary premise (a killer who attacks you in your dreams), imaginative kills set in surreal dream sequences, and a wonderful villain, Freddy Krueger, played with alternating moments of wit, charm and menace by the now-legendary Robert Englund.

This new version, directed by music video director Samuel Bayer, only incorporates one aspect of that potent combination. The premise is this same, yes, but gone are the imaginative kills and wonderful villain that once made this franchise what it was.

Nightmare On Elm Street 9 570x235 A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

The main problem (for me) was the script, which was written by Wesley Strick (Arachnophobia, The Saint) and relative newcomer Eric Heisserer. The screenplay for A Nightmare on Elm Street budgets its time rather foolishly, and the misstep shows. For starters, the writers chose to sacrifice the first half-hour of the film’s 90 minute runtime laying out the premise: Freddy stalks kids in their dreams and if he kills them there, they die in the real world. Do we really need a whole half-hour and multiple elaborate kill sequences to understand this? Certainly not, but that’s what we get…

It’s not even until the third victim is dispatched  (and the second act kicks off) that we really know who the main characters of the story are: Nancy Holbrook (Roona Mara) and her semi-crush Quentin O’Grady (Kyle Gallner). Nancy is the weirdo Goth artist of the high school pecking order, and Quentin is that cool kid jock who secretly pines for her – not that any of this matters.  By the time the film finally centers on its two leads, we’re already too far into the blood, gore, and “mystery” to care. Nancy and Quentin are merely vessels that  carry the story of Freddy Krueger along and that’s about as much development as they get.

A Nightmare on Elm Street Rooney Mara A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

After wasting 1/3 of the movie setting up a premise that could’ve been explained in minutes, the screenwriters then chose to drag the second act of the film through a mystery sub-plot involving the origins of Freddy Krueger and his vendetta against the teens. This sub-plot attempts to inject the story with “originality” by forcing us to wrestle with doubts about who Freddy Krueger is and what was done to him; but by the third act, most of those dangling threads are cut and the entire “mystery” becomes another shamefully wasted opportunity. I don’t even think there is one killing in the second half hour of the film – cheap jump scares and half-boiled plot points are pretty much what we get.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that for a story which invested so heavily in asking who Freddy Krueger is, most of the important story points – like how did Freddy end up with these dream powers? Why did he wait so long to reappear? What exactly does Elm Street have to do with any of this? – are left to speculation – or worse, a sequel. It’s simply lazy storytelling.

By far the worst offense though is the new take on Freddy himself. Robert Englund’s Freddy was an unapologetic bad guy – so evil in life that not even death could contain him. The character was simple, effective, and fun to watch in the way great villains are. The new Freddy is simply…creepy. By trying a ‘realistic and humanizing approach’ the new Elm Street actually deflates the horror icon, leaving us with a Freddy who is more off-putting than engaging.

Nightmare on Elm Street Freddy Krueger close up A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

Speaking of the razor-fingered man in the striped shirt, I’ll say this upfront:  Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen, Little Children) is not a bad Freddy Krueger. To the contrary, in the menace department I think Haley far outshines Mr. Englund. The new Freddy is a stone-cold killer, stripped of all the winking humor and over-the-top theatrics. This is not a guy you want to meet in your dreams, ever, for any reason. And that both enhances and detracts from the film.

Whenever Freddy is meant to be scary, Haley knocks it out of the park. However, whenever Freddy is meant to be light or funny, Haley (as I’ve stated) comes off as awkwardly creepy and Elm Street‘s third act is especially off-putting in this way. A good horror film uses the supernatural as allegory for real-life events or issues – it doesn’t take real-life evil and rub your face in it. A Nightmare On Elm Street makes it clear (to me) that while “torture porn” horror might be a passing trend, the core idea of that sub-genre (reveling in the pain of others, be it physical, psychological or emotional) is now firmly embedded in the horror movie landscape.

Nightmare On Elm Street 8 570x235 A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

When he was first announced, I thought director Samuel Bayer was going to bring serious creativity to this film, considering his past history directing music videos. And where there is opportunity, Bayer does impress with his visual flare – too bad those opportunities are few and far between. The script pretty much relies on rehashing Wes Craven’s wonderfully imagined kills from the original Elm Street or settling for flat and uninspired dream sequences that the story tries to justify with third act “explanations.”  Never has a movie about dreams – the most fertile device for narrative creativity – been so boring.

The acting? Meh. Whether it’s the modelesque faces of the young actors (Mara, Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz) or the familiar faces of the parents (Clancy Brown, Connie Britton), nobody really stands out in this film – not even Haley as Freddy, if I’m being totally honest. Everyone involved feels like they are requisites of the story without actually being important to it, and the actors go about their scenes as if they themselves are sleepwalking – so it’s kind of hard to care about whether they ever wake up or not.

Nightmare On Elm Street 7 570x235 A Nightmare On Elm Street Review

We’ve said it before here at Screen Rant and we’ll say it again: if you’re going to remake a movie, bring something new and interesting to it – tell us the story in a way we haven’t heard it before. A Nightmare On Elm Street gets the latter part wrong in its narrative approach and completely disregards the former. Does it ruin Freddy Krueger? No. Does it revitalize him? The box office may indicate “yes,” but my heart says the opposite.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

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TAGS: nightmare on elm street

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  1. is the movie gory/graphic like friday the 13th (remake) and is haley’s voice the same as it was in the trailers ?

    i would have loved for them to make this movie a complete prequel to every elm street, and this ones sequel a new take on the nightmare freddy (the one after the teens).

    im still going to watch this, alot of people said the friday 13th remake was crap, but i think it was much better then the originals simple because he was brutal, smart (used underground tunnels rather then appear infront of running victims) and more serious looking.

    • The new nightmare on elm street sucked i wish i would have saved my money a hour a half gone of my life Iwill never get back.

      • It wasn’t that bad to me. It was a lot more cleaner and smarter than Friday the 13th. It may pale in the light of the original, but it’s got some kind of shine on it’s own.

        • The New Nightmare on Elm Street was the worse Freddy movie made And any REAL FREDDY FAN would actually know that (Kevin). Freddy was a child murderer not a child molester. How the hell did that Music Video Producer get this job anyway (Are they serious)? And that Jackie Earl Haley is the worst Freddy I have ever seen, he was such a disappointment. They say they wanted a more serious freddy kreuger but if u didnt notice the new freddy was actually trying to be funny with his non-funny jokes. Jackie isnt fit to be the new freddy kreuger (NO ONE ELSE IS). Elm Street had nothing to do with this movie, why is that? In that case the movie should have been called A Nightmare in Badham since the movie had everything to do with a Badham Pre-school. There was no relation to Elm Street at all. What was with the parts of the movie where the characters kept falling in and out of there dreams (That was the dumbest thing they could ever do in a freddy movie).The Movie doesnt even show you or say how freddy came back it only showed him getting burned by the parents of the victims.It doesnt how he made the claws and where did he get the materials to do it (Come on now, he lived Throughout the whole movie the characters was trying to figure out in a basement of a pre-school OMG). What people would even allow a grown man who they really didnt know all to good live at the pre-school there young children go to. The way the victims was killed wasn’t even good compared to the previous freddy movies.How they all knew eachother which was dumb. The movie had nothing to do with the boiler room in which the freddy killed some of his victims there. The one thing most important thing that was kept out of the movie was Freddy’s House on 1428 Elm Street(What were they thinking)? The Movie just wasnt interesting at all and I was mad the whole time I was watching the movie. I do not look forward to the The Nightmare on Elm Street Sequel if Robert Englund isnt in it. Long live Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger)

      • I liked it your just not a hard core freddy fan after all it sttill had robert shaye the originals producer on board i was optimistic about the new freddy but i ended up very pleased with it!!!

        • the movie was great i agree but some parts can get you off track but still this nightmare was WAY better than the originals exxpecially with haley as our new fred krueger

          • LOL, better than the original? You’re an idiot.

    • “Each of the victims confesses to having vivid nightmares shortly before their death”… So… If they’re death how can they confess anything…?

      • Is not that they confess to [having vivid nightmares before their death], is that they [confess to having vivid nightmares] before their death. I’ll reword it clearly: “before they die, they confess to having vivid nightmares”

    • No No NO!!! Stop with the remakes!!! I have the Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th and Halloween full collections on dvd…and yeah the graphics suck, some of the acting is so corny its laughable…but damnit was it great and even now i watch it and enjoy it because its orignal. Friday The 13th 2009 had NOTHING to do with the original NOTHING they just said “hmm how are we going to sell this garbage movie we just made? lets say the killers name is Jason :O here put on a hockey mask” typical hour’n’half horror crap with horny teens getting high and hacked to pieces worked great in the 80s….not today!

      By the way Freddy was never a pedo..he was child killer the worste kind of killer thats your metaphore for a seriously evil dude…no one ever said he raped kids and it wasnt implied in any of the previous films..the shower and bed scenses are all just places that we pass out and get freaked out!

      This remake sucks and all remakes suck !! Go Hollywood Ruin The Classics!

      • couldnt have put it better myself !

  2. I completely disagree with your feelings about this movie… I thought it refined Wes Craven’s original vision. New Nightmare was written and directed by Wes Craven and that “Freddy” feels very similar to this Freddy.

    But, with that said, to each his own.

    I miss Disqus…

    • i agree with you, this new freddy was a great version of a wes craven freddy,( a nightmare on elm street, wes craven’s new nightmare) i think everyone is forgetting that wes craven only had 2 freddy movies, which were great.Freddy is portrayed excellent in this film. FACE REALITY, if haley had been a witty trickster we would have walked out laughing because freddy’s jokes had no way of standing out in the old movie and neither would this one.

      And the acting, the people who played Nancy and Quentin, terrific acting, this critic doesnt know acting if he thinks they cant act.
      and the first half of the movie i appreciated because it wasnt some random burnt killer, it made sense and had a story behind it. Thats what a real movie has. Good acting, a story, (if a horror movie): creepy killer. A nightmare on elm street 2010 had all those things.

      • Technically, Wes had three of the films being responsible for the third one as well as the two you mentioned. And the acting was decent. Should have been better, and they definitely weren’t terrific. I liked it for what it was, but in this instance I’ll take the original. For most of the other remakes, I’d take them instead over the originals. I thought it was decent overall.

      • I agree 100 percent!!!

    • I disagree with you i thought the movie was a joke.Freddy is not Freddy without robert england. he is the original.

  3. I didn’t get a chance to go see it this weekend but I will make it a point to see it. The problem that I really have with this review is that Freddy wasn’t even remotely funny until the 3rd movie. The first movie done by Wes Craven was creepy and scary. Freddy himself was just ruthless and nasty. I really look for the new Freddy to be the same way. No doubt I like a Freddy with a personality but the fact that he is creepy is better off in my opinion. Let’s think about this… when he was alive he was a creepy child molester and killer. Now he is expected to be a scary clown. I just don’t see it happening. Besides when he got funny was when the original series got stupid.

    • he is not funny in this one. He is actually believeble as a killer and even just an actor. His jokes in this one are funny in way that it gives you the creeps. I saw this past weekend. It was terricic. And would support the idea of a sequel

      • Me too!!!!

    • I agree, I think he’s better creepy.I thought the movie was great. When they started making him funny is when I stopped watching nighmare. Becuz they started getting stupid.

  4. Bob,

    I See what you’re saying, but if I may offer some thoughts:

    Englud’s Freddy always had a bit of wit and charm to him, even when he was scary. Haley’s take is more flat and not nearly as charismatic.

    The original Freddy was a sick man who became a supernatural ghoul – but the molestation aspect was kept more metaphorical, with Freddy representing things like repressed memory or psychological trauma of abuse victims. It worked well on multiple levels as a metaphor. The new version not only hits you over the head with this theme, it revels in it in a way that borders on exploitation or “Torture porn”. I don’t want to SPOIL things too much, so I’ll stop there.

    While I’m not expecting a scary clown, I am expecting that a horrible man-turned-demon who controls dreams would be a bit more…playful about messing with his victims. In this new version Freddy has no imagination and the dream sequences are bland. Freddy is all business, killing kids quick with no creativity. It’s kinda boring to watch.

    I’ll look forward to your comments after viewing the film.

    • I understand where you are coming from and I look forward to seeing the movie and forming my own opinion. You are right about the way he was played in the past, but in the first movie he was more subdued than he was in the more campy versions they put out later. I have seen them all and I will continue watching them as long as they make them. I will make it a point to reply again when I have seen the movie.

  5. I agree. The things Ray made freddy great, and different from it’s main competition (Jason) was the humor and creative dream/kill sequences. Both were lacking. There were a couple, which I won’t spoil, and they were ok but it felt like they were there just so the fan boys, if there are any Freddy fanboys wouldn’t cry too loud.

  6. You know Kofi, I’m almost 100% sure you intentionally tried to stir the pot in the Iron Man 2 thread, so I was really hoping you’d like this movie so I can try to sneak in a Jason vs. Freddy argument in here, lol. But yah, I agree, the movie wasn’t that good. To me it was just jump scare after jump scare and that’s it. *yawn*

  7. Does anyone remember a young Johnny Depp in the original? And I don’t think anyone can match Robert Englund….

    • How can i forget, he had the most memorable death in the franchise,lol. I agree with ya, anyone can play Jason or Michael Myers, but to play Freddy its hard to top Robert Englund’s work. I loved all the films from Nightmare 1 to Freddy VS. Jason, Except for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, thats my least favorite but i do enjoy it some and i did liked how freddy looked in it, more evil like. Besides the original, the 4th film is my favorite.

      • I remember him from his cameo from the one later in the series! I loved that Freddy hit him over the head with a pan haha. But yeah, if you’re a fan of Nightmare on Elm Street, you should know Depp had the best death in it.

      • I remember buying the 4th. The chick turning into a cockroach really weirded me out the most out of all the Freddy deaths.

        The 1st will always stand on top.

  8. @Chaos

    Regarding Disqus, something went wrong with it last night and it was keeping pages from loading so I had to disable it until the problem can be tracked down and fixed.

    Vic

  9. @Vic

    Ah, okay. ^_^
    Hope everything gets worked out.

  10. Yes, I have to agree with you Kofi. I found myself dozing off numerous times, until someone screamed. Not one scene made me jump, and Freddy was just not that interesting to me.

  11. hmm. It’s hard to gauge a movie that gets 5 starts other places saying its by far better than the original and 2 stars like here. I’ll have to see it now to get my own take.

    • Yah, was gonna cite Rottentomatoes too and how the vast majority of critics have panned this movie. But anyway, forget critics, I saw the movie and so did my gf who is a huge Freddy fan and we both didn’t like it. It wasn’t that interesting, and it wasn’t scary, it just kept trying to do jump scares and that’s it.

      • LOL Ken Noticed how the similiar the ending was to a previous movie? especially the lines spoken? Talk about lousy. And it didnt take a terminator to kill John Connor, Just Freddy. LOL, atleast John Connor from Terminator: TSCC. After watchin the film, i had to watch the original again to get it outta my head,lol. Ill skip on buying it on dvd.

  12. @A@ronW

    Who is giving this 5 stars? Over at RottenTomatoes.com the average is 4/10 with only 15% positive reviews.

    Vic

  13. Id give this movie only two stars. Like Friday the 13th, i wasnt impressed with this remake. I was shocked they didnt try to redo a certain scene best known from the original but they were smart to not to go that far. The ending was terrible with same lines spoken from another previous movie. Lol I shook my head and wished they made a prequel instead. Jackie Earle Haley’s freddy didnt look that scary to me. He was good but wasnt as good as Robert Englund was.

  14. it was fun to see Clancy Brown again.
    but half the time i was watching this movie, my inner nerd would squeal. because for a split second it looked as if the Kurgan was chasing Freddy in to a shack. or when he wasent on screen it was like Lex Luthor was yelling at Mr.Kruger.

  15. what i really hate is how people get offended/angry about them mentioning krueger being a pedo. it was in the original ones so wtf do people hate how its made more obviose for those who arent elm street fans.

    i knew from watching the trailers that this movie was going to be a blunt remake of the original (bed and bath scenes gave it away).

    it would have been good if they made a repquel then a sequel (remakes of course).

    btw how graphic is this movie, is it comparable to the halloween and friday 13th remakes ?

    • The gore isn’t that bad. Blood, that’s it. The kills are pretty simple, quick and lame.

      Regarding the pedo issue: Like I said in the review, a good horror film uses fantastic or supernatural circumstances as allegory/metaphor for real world issues. We always knew Freddy is was a pedo, but the dream killer premise was an effective metaphor for the trauma of that abuse. They take real monster (actual pedos) and exaggerate them into “monsters” onscreen.

      This new version was just a piece of torture porn. Freddy was killing these kids and showing them all the same (lame) dream of that basement to drag them through their trauma again. There was no metaphor – it was all totally literal. I don’t want to see a film like that in the literal sense. We use metaphor as a way of engaging with topics and ideas we otherwise do not or cannot stand to engage with.

      That’s just my take.

      • i was told that it was as graphic as friday 13th, thanks for the heads up.

        this movie could have been so much better had they chosen an original take on the franchise (like they did with friday) rather then rip off not only scenes but dialogue from the original elm street movies.

        would you say its like friday 13th, or it is worse (in terms of acting, plot etc). i just want to know what kind of BS im going to be tolerating for 1hr 30min ?

  16. wow that was bad, im glad i didnt pay to watch it.
    it was almost as bad as the original series. the only decent scene was the one in the pharmacy where it kept going from reality to nightmare and vise versa.

    what could have been a decent if not good movie turned out to be a PoS clone of the 1st and best nightmare movie.if this does get a sequel (and by the looks of it, it will) they better chose a new/better director, and should make the movie a fresh remake.

    now i know why people hated this movie, biggest waste of 90min :(

  17. SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER! SPOILER!

    No offense people but it’s a little sad because of the blonde girl’s death. I thought she is the survivor but turns out not. This movie has an different ending to the 1984 version. In this version, two of them survive instead of the boy dies.
    I really enjoyed the movie and I think they tooked the part of Freddy Vs Jason, how Nancy pulled out Freddy in her dreams. Lastly, I thinked it was bad as the original one but it’s worth it.

  18. Nah go and see this flick my self and berate it later on SR

  19. Though I have not seen this movie, but want to. I really think that this remake will not be as good. I think that Freddy will not be presented as “Freddy”. I don’t think the movie will be brought out to be more interesting than any other original horror movie. I think it will be very ordinary, not anything spectacular. Since it is a remake they should make it better, but usually they aren’t. But who knows I might be in for a surprise when I see it.

  20. The remake was terrible. No two ways about it. Crap.

  21. I thought this Elmstreet was better than the other ones except the original 1 and 2 Elmstreet from the eighties(those were classics). Robert England played him the best but after a while Freddy became too much of a comedian. I like that they made him back to a straight killer. All those jokes in the older versions( excluding 1 and 2 of course) took away from the horror.

  22. The new nightmare sucked a big one. I did not like this movie at all. If I would have paid for my own ticket, I’d be very annoyed. -Good thing for boyfriends!

    Although, I really truely disliked this crap-fest of a movie, it was jumpy.

  23. whatever i liked the remake it still had the original producer onboard so what they couldnt use robert forever i think it rocked it was metal enough for me and im a huge robert fan so and the new nacy was also very good!!!!!

  24. Iwent to the film opening night, and to my suprise, the movie it self could not possibly compare to Wes Craven’s version. The fact that Robert Englund was replaced had me tempted to give this film a shot. Due to the fact that after the first film, he had to much humor, and just wasn’t scary anymore. New Nighmare with returning Heather Langenkamp, was the only one of my favorite sequels. Heather just has a way of carrying the film when all else fails. And as for the new remake, as I said before, was great, but cant replace the original! And no one can replace Heather as Nancy in my opinion. The actors in the new film did the best with what they had to work from. It was too much of a story change, and I hated that. They lost who Freddy was, and that’s what made him scary.

  25. “Each of the victims confesses to having vivid nightmares shortly before their death”… So… If they’re death how can they confess anything…?

  26. This film was a waste of money to go see in theaters, I should have waiten until I could rent it.

  27. I thought the film was great, and im hoping they will bring out another one!

  28. i thought the nightmare on elm street remake was ten time’s better than the original. the only on’s i’ve seen are the original, freddy vs. jason and this remake. I thought that jeackie earle hailey did better than robert englund and what people don’t get is that robert englund is to old to play freddy anymore. this new one isn’t as gorey but it’s more clever in my opinion. They should do a sequal with the sam director same cast as well (except for the dead characters). I also had this idea of them remaking freddy vs. jason and having derek mears as jason and jackie earle hailey as freddy and do it that way. What I’m really trying to say is that if your a freddy fan or if your new like me you should really go see it.

  29. @ NICK, my nephew said the same thing. :) I agree with you, they should remake Freddy vs. Jason with Derek & Jackie. I really hated that movie with a passion, especially the acting, my goodness. But this new Nightmare, I completely loved it from beginning to end, especially the ending. That last scene was simply amazing. My one and only complaint, I wanted it to be longer. I love long horror movies for some reason. Domestic gross so far: $59,931,000, Worldwide: $76,931,000. It made an estimate of $2,285,000 this weekend after 4 weeks of release. Still making money even after all the negative reviews and word of mouth. That is just awesome. Platinum Dunes is my favorite film company now, just like New Line was my favorite when I was a kid. :)