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A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Rooney Mara, Kyle Gallner, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellan Lutz

Written By: Wesley Strick (also story), Eric Heisserer Directed By: Samuel Bayer

The Short Version

The last of the Big Three Slashers to start also is the last one to reboot.

Wes Craven wanted nothing to do with it; wasn’t even asked.  Uh-oh.

They decided to use Freddy’s original backstory as a molester.  Uh-oh.

Jackie Earle Haley is good, but the job of replacing Robert Englund is thankless.

The least worthy of the Big Three Slashers’ reboots, this flick is just plain awful.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


It was burnt the first time, and after spending some time in the fridge and getting nuked, it’s tasting really funky now.

Pairs Well With...


After all these years, it’s still the world’s most unimaginative pop-airhead beer.  I bet they have vending machines full of this stuff at the Platinum Dunes office.

“You can't wake up.  I had to keep you awake long enough so when you finally slept, you'd never wake up again.  We're gonna be in here a long time.”

After 2003, the Big Three slasher franchises officially gave up.  They gave it one last go with the hybrid Freddy vs. Jason, but after that, they decided that the fight just wasn’t in them anymore.

The thing is, though, that however bad critics and even franchise fans might have to varying degrees considered the innumerable sequels to three decent movies (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street) to be, even the worst of them made money, and Hollywood hates to let a cash cow die.  Thus, in the same in order in which their predecessors came onto the scene, so came the reboots.

Come 2010 – thanks to the production company of a man who is fast becoming one of the most hated in Hollywood, Michael Bay –  it was Freddy’s turn, and true to form, he made his studio tons and tons of money. 

I really hope that this isn’t a sign that there’s more to come.

Our story begins with young man in desperate need of coffee.  His name is Dean (Kellan Lutz, Twilight), and he’s been having terrible nightmares about a burned maniac in an ugly sweater who wears a glove tipped with knives.  Unfortunately for Dean, coffee is no longer enough to keep him awake, and when he drops back to sleep, the maniac, Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley, RoboCop), is waiting for him.  But Freddy has had enough of Dean, and so in the realm of Dean’s nightmare, Freddy kills him.  This results in his bloody death in the real world, too.  Not pretty.

Eventually, Dean’s girlfriend, Kris (Katie Cassidy, Taken), gets together with Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), and they realize that they are having the same nightmares that Dean was having, and after polling others close to them and some internet trolling, they realize that there are even more people out there who are also seeing this nasty burned man with the finger knives.  Why is he coming after them in their dreams?  When the victims discover what they have in common, they’ll find their answer…

Once upon a time, Wes Craven wanted nothing to do with A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge and even spoke against it.  New Line made it anyway.  It made scads of money, but pretty well everyone, including die hard Freddy fans, denounced it as a piece of crap, and most like to pretend it never happened.

Twenty-five years later, Wes Craven wanted nothing to do with a rebooted version of A Nightmare on Elm Street and even spoke against it.  Platinum Dunes made it anyway.  It made scads of money, but pretty well everyone, including die hard Freddy fans, denounced it as a piece of crap, and most would like to pretend it never happened.

Unfortunately, this is one nightmare you don’t get to wake up from.

With Wes Craven out of the way, the studio felt free to trash his work with wild abandon.  The first thing they did was resurrect a concept for Freddy that Craven had originally developed and then wisely discarded: in this version of the movie, Freddy Krueger wasn’t infamous as a child murderer, but rather, as a child molester. 

Does this make things that much more horrific in the sense that makes any civilized person start to throw up in his or her mouth just thinking about it?  Absolutely.  Does it make for an entertaining story or a fun movie?  Absolutely not.  There’s a line our slasher killers aren’t supposed to cross.  Psychological torture, the forte of old school Freddy?  That’s fine.  Gruesome, gory killings?  Pass the popcorn!  Sex crime, though, crosses the line.  Go ahead and drive the spike through the consensually copulating couple, but rape?  No way.  Not cool. 

The objective of former and unrepentant child molester Freddy Krueger in this movie, folks, is not actually to gleefully frighten or kill people.  He’s only killing people to drive his real target into a coma, at which point she’ll be stuck in a dream state for a good five to eight decades before knocking off, leaving Freddy all that time to rape her over and over again.  That is what he’s after in this movie, and there, the uncrossable line is crossed.

Even if there was nothing else wrong with this wretched pile of reboot, that would be enough to damn it to the Eternal Cesspit of Unwatched Crap.

But there’s lots more wrong with A Nightmare on Elm Street. 

To start with, Platinum Dunes found themselves a music video hack for a director.  As in literally no feature films to his credit, just mile after mile of Short Attention Span Videorama where something needs to go crash or boom every few minutes in order to keep the audience interested enough to not start looking for another shiny to play with.  This means that we get no buildup to Freddy; we just get Freddy right away.  This also means that since there’s no suspense to the story whatsoever (of course Freddy was real guilty and the kids didn’t lie; now the kids having lied would have been a ballsy choice, but this flick has no balls), the audience must instead be subjected to cheap scares equivalent to a cat jumping through a window or knocking over a glass every few minutes.  Oh, yippee.

And the only lines worth listening to?  Yeah; they’re the ones ripped off from older scripts.  I suspect that the new junk thrown in about “micronaps” and such is actually a ploy by Freddy to bore everyone to sleep with nonsense.

Most of the cast isn’t any help, either.  Yeah, it’s always nice to see Clancy Brown (Highlander) getting work away from his Spongebob gig, but he’s not part of the core Freddy bait, and the core Freddy bait is just plain dull.  They just don’t generate any real sympathy to make the audience want to root for them, and worse, they’re not even exciting enough to root against.  They’re just… there.  And how about at least a little energy from our leading lady, huh?

It’s sure not coming from the effects.  Oh, look; it’s CGI crap that most modern horror fans actually can’t stand.  And it’s even on Freddy’s face.  Yeah, that’s right, folks: Jackie Earle Haley actually wore a green screen on his face.  Can we say enough’s enough already?

To be fair, though, if anyone deserves any props at all for this abomination of a movie, that man is Jackie Earle Haley.  The job of filling Robert Englund’s legendary glove is thankless one; no one is ever going to survive the comparison intact, especially when one’s best lines are those that have been ripped off from Englund’s old scripts.  With that said, Haley does a better job with it than anyone could reasonably have had any right to expect, and indeed, given the material at hand, he does quite well.  He also makes this movie’s characterization of Freddy his own; even though he’s reading many of the same lines, this Freddy is far slimier, as is befitting to his far slimier backstory.  This Freddy’s not the scary monster or the wisecracking tormentor so much as he is just a really nasty creep, and Haley’s got that nailed.

How’s that for winning the Dubious Achievement Award?

Nevertheless, no matter how well Haley does with the role, nothing can save this rebooted A Nightmare on Elm Street from the garbage heap.  One can only hope that someone with actual intelligence realizes that a bad movie about a serial rapist does not need a sequel…

Oh, shit.  Michael Bay owns that production company…

Please tell me that it’s all a bad dream…


Bottom line, the rebooted A Nightmare on Elm Street is an abomination that didn’t need to happen and that doesn’t need to continue.  It contributes nothing at all worthwhile to the Freddy legend, and is just a lousy movie in any case.  Don’t waste your time.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, October, 2011

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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