A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
by Jesse Miller, MoreHorror.com

The original A Nightmare on Elm Street holds a special place in my heart - I was blown away when I first saw it. It left me with a sick feeling in my gut, it’s scenes now burned into my mind – some I’ll never forget.

This re-imagining sees high school teens, suffering terrifying nightmares in which they are stalked by a man with knives for fingers, Freddy Krueger (now played by Jackie Earle Haley). After a few deaths of their friends occur, the group of teens soon realize that in order to stay alive, they have to stay awake. Or else.

Let’s dive straight into it, shall we? – The primary problem with this remake is that it’s bland, by-the-numbers and a great missed opportunity.

Where is the imagination? It’s the key ingredient for a horror film dealing with nightmares – the possibilities are endless. You could tap into characters’ darkest fears; blend the real with the surreal. Absolutely anything could happen, all bets are off. So why is it that this remake feels quite unimaginative and mundane?

Not much can be said about the new bunch of teens – they’re good-looking kids you get to know little about. The new group of actors all turn in solid, albeit campy performances but that’s as far as it goes. Rooney Mara, however, is a personal highlight, bringing a vulnerability to the role that even matches Heather Langenkamp’s performances.

I’m a big fan of Jackie Earle Haley, more recently I loved him in Little Children and I loved him again in Watchmen. When I first heard him announced as the new Freddy, I was intrigued to see his version. Jackie as Freddy works best when he’s in complete silence lurking in the shadows. Yes, his Freddy is a darker departure from the comical Freddy some of us know and love, but a part from that minor taste of nastiness, I can’t say that I liked his version much.

Even under all that make up work and CGI, he appears as if he’s struggling to deliver those lines in that gravelly, gruff voice and his presence isn’t nearly as effective as Robert Englund’s Freddy.

Having said that, I enjoyed how writers Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer have slightly rewritten Freddy here. As the film unfolds, it poses the question whether he was actually innocent of abusing the children or if he was indeed the child molester the parents of the children thought he was.

It’s one of this reboot spins on the original that I found intriguing. Technically, Samuel Bayer makes his film debut here and this nightmare looks crisp and glossy. Though the set design is fantastic and everything on screen looks slick and polished, the orchestrated scares leave something to be desired.

I’ll ask again – where is the imagination here? I want to be taken to a deeply haunting, terrifying place and these musical stings from Steve Jablonsky’s score just can’t quite get me there. They may make you jump, but as far as truly scaring you, it’s a dull affair.

“A dull affair” sums up 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. As I watched it, I was left to think of all the scenes from the original that left an impact with me and stayed in my mind throughout the years and then I compare this one, which breezed by without anything memorable ever happening in it.

Even the scenes recreated here from the original were done much, much better the first time. Despite a few fleeting touches of nastiness here or there, there was little here that I found effective – it really is a missed opportunity.

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