The specter of a dead child rapist haunts the children of the parents who murdered him, stalking and killing them in their dreams.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I sat down to revisit the remake for A Nightmare on Elm Street. I had seen the movie once before upon its initial release back in 2010, but my memory of the movie itself was hazy. The main thing I remember taking away from it was that it simply wasn’t very good. The thing with me and remakes however, is that over time I’ve actually grown to enjoy quite a few, so I thought it was the perfect movie to give a second chance.
Did it deserve this second chance, however? To be blunt, hell no.
I’ll start by commenting on the biggest controversy of the movie, and that’s officially turning Freddy into a child rapist. In my opinion, this is the only real chance that the movie takes, and if I’m throwing it a bone, it definitely commits to the storyline. Is it done well? Again, hell no, but I do appreciate that they even attempted to go in that direction considering what a safe and lazy story the rest of the script amounts to being.
The main trouble they have with the plotline itself though, is they want it both ways. They want to make Freddy more sinister and evil, yet at the same time want the wise-cracking villain that Englund became in the later sequels, and it just doesn’t work. The later iterations of Freddy aren’t necessarily scary, but he’s enjoyably campy enough that you can have a fun time watching him despatch some teens.
If you’re turning Freddy into someone who despatches teens who he raped as children, however, you have to understand that it won’t have the same entertainment value. In fact, it completely disconnects you from the character, creating an insurmountable block from being able to enjoy any shenanigans that might be happening on screen. If done well, it could definitely be an incredibly sinister story, but this movie doesn’t have the talent to even fathom the quality required to put that story across.
Instead, what we get is a semi-standard non-mystery of whether or not Krueger was a rapist or not. The answer to which was spoiled in all the pre-release marketing, making the twists of whether Freddy is innocent or not completely mute. The mystery itself is also incredibly simple and full of exposition, our main characters mum seems to keep everything related to the story in a draw, while the internet or convenient dreams tell our characters the rest.
I will say that I’m not an Englund purist by any means, so I could completely accept that Jackie Earley Haley brought something different to the role. In a better movie, I believe his Freddy could have easily carried a sequel or two, and the decision to go with a more realistic burn look for the face worked for me. You can see what Haley is trying to bring, but when the script requires him to be sinister while saying things like ‘talk about a wet dream eh?’, it kind of feels like he’s fighting a losing battle. He’s a decent enough actor, but his semi-similar role in the indie Little Children manages to be infinitely creepier and involving while shooting for similar goals.
As for the teens themselves, I honestly can’t remember any of the characters names outside of Nancy, played by future star Rooney Mara. I’d completely forgotten she was a part of this movie, to be honest, but I will say that despite the splendid actress that she later becomes, she’s tragically bland here as our main heroine. The cast is rounded out by teen stars like Kyle Gallner and Thomas Dekker in unimpressively basic roles, but nobody here has anything to work with so all come out unscathed.
The most amazing thing about this movie is that the script is actually by screenwriter Eric Heisserer, who went onto write the incredible Arrival starring Amy Adams (who was robbed an oscar by the way), and that quite honestly blew my mind considering his work here. As, while Arrival is a movie that has seemingly perfect script-editing, his script here feels like it’s been drawn from several different drafts. The movie’s cold open even feels like more of a finale to a previous version.
Does the movie at least deliver in the gore you ask? Well, not really. There’s a pretty cool throat-slashing at the start of the movie, but most of the kills are repeated from the original, with the lack of practical effects making them seem far more planned out and sluggish than a movie made twenty years prior.
If I’m honest, A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) is exactly the kind of movie that makes me understand why people are so against remakes. It brings nothing new to the table, copies scenes without improving upon them, and feels like a lazy cash-in.
Basically, it didn’t deserve the second chance.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) begins with a cold open with Kellan Lutz, and it’s probably the movie’s most effective kill and scene. If that doesn’t tell you all you need to know about the quality of this remake, then I don’t know what will.