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Overall Rating

Awesome: 1.37%
Worth A Look: 9.59%
Just Average: 10.96%
Pretty Crappy: 36.99%

6 reviews, 37 user ratings

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Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The Bastard Film Of 100 Idiots."
1 stars

Despite being a child of the 1980’s and someone with an odd fascination for gory horror films from that era, I must confess that I have never had much use for the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, that string of ultra-violent horror-fantasy extravaganzas in which Freddy Krueger, the hideously burned and razor-fingered bastard son of 100 maniacs, brutally haunted and hunted his victims in their dreams. Sure, Wes Craven’s 1984 original was a pretty effective work--thanks to his clever script and deft direction, a cast of engaging newcomers (including the then-unknown Johnny Depp in his film debut) and Robert Englund’s instantly iconic performance as Krueger--that was marred only by a truly asinine final scene, a bit of tacked-on tackiness that made the finale of “Back to the Future” look palatable by comparison) that became a huge hit with audiences and even earned decent reviews from many critics as well. However, with the exception of Craven’s brilliant 1994 meta-movie experiment “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” a smart commentary on the slasher genre that anticipated many of the ideas that he would explore a couple of years later in “Scream,” and 2003’s “Freddy Vs. Jason,” an agreeably silly monster mash between Krueger and fellow aging slasher icon Jason Voorhees, the series quickly degenerated into a string of quickie sequels that were little more than a series of elaborate kill scenes in which the endlessly wisecracking Krueger, whose jokes were more terrifying than his actions (though it should be noted that whatever life the films had was due almost entirely to Englund‘s relentlessly energetic performances), bumped off a seemingly endless string of bland teen dopes until he was temporarily dispatched just before the end credits. Although many seemed to enjoy the formula for a while--the films made tons of money and Freddy appeared on the cover of “Fangoria” as often as Oprah Winfrey appears on the cover of “O” (and with much the same effect)--their sheer repetitiveness began to grate on even the most loyal fans and the franchise eventually went bust.

Now “A Nightmare on Elm Street” has, like so many well-known horror properties, has been given the remake treatment to attract a new audience that wasn’t even born when the original films were still haunting the multiplexes. While the idea of doing such a film may have struck many old-school genre buffs as anathema, especially when it was announced that neither Craven nor Englund would be involved, I have to admit that it didn’t sound like the worst idea in the world--the basic premise of being stalked in your sleep when you are at your most vulnerable is still a pretty potent idea and while it seemed impossible for anyone to step into Englund’s charred sweater and glove, the casting of Jackie Earle Haley, hot off his comeback performances in “Little Children” and “Watchmen,” in the role was an off-beat and inspired move that suggested that it might have slightly higher ambitions than most of the recent string of reboots. Unfortunately, based on the unbelievably lame and deeply unentertaining results, it feels as if the filmmakers never actually got around to seeing the original film and instead took their inspiration from all the lame-ass sequels and the result is a hugely disappointing craptacular whose sole obvious virtue is the fact that it might--might--be slightly better than “Freddy’s Revenge,” the generally accepted low point of the franchise.

As the film opens, the seemingly bucolic suburb of Springwood is rocked when a local teenager plagued by bizarre nightmares kills himself in a diner in an exceptionally gruesome manner in front of his girlfriend, Kris (Katie Cassidy). Before long, it becomes apparent that she and several other classmates--arty waif Nancy (Rooney Mara), emo guy Quentin (Kyle Gallner) and hothead Jesse (Dean Braun)--have been having similar dreams involving a hideously burned man coming after them with a glove with razor blades attached to the fingers that also suggest that they all knew each other long before they supposedly met in high school. Thanks to a conveniently timed expository of nightmarish exposition, it turns out that they did indeed known each other as little children when they all attended a local pre-school where they were all befriended by Freddy Krueger (Haley), the kindly janitor who slept in a room in the basement in an arrangement that not a single parent apparently objected to in any form--they were presumably too busy ridding the playground of any item that might provide a bit of actual fun. Anyway, some of the kids eventually began to suggest that Krueger was molesting them and instead of doing something mundane than report it to the police, their parents (including Connie Britton and Clancy Brown) formed a vigilante mob and, despite his pleas of innocence, burned him to death. For reasons never quite explained, Krueger now has the power to invade the dreams of those now-grown children and is killing them off one by one in their sleep and it is up to Nancy and Quentin to stay awake long discover his secret and stop his reign of terror without getting sliced up themselves.

One of the reasons that the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” worked was because it was a horror film that relied on more than just cheap shocks and gallons of gore to spook audiences--it mined its real scares from the twin notions of being attacked while asleep in bed, a position of vulnerability as primal and effective as a shower, and discovering that the very authority figures you were raised to believe were there to help you not only couldn’t when the time came, they were responsible for your traumas in the first place. (In this sense, the film was kind of like a horrific take on the John Hughes movies that were appearing at the same time.) While there are many problems with the revamped screenplay by Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer, the biggest by far is its complete lack of ambition--having apparently never decided whether they were doing a strict remake or a complete revamp, they have presented an uncomfortable mélange of the two that combines lame retreads of the first film’s most memorable moments with new plot details and developments that only manage to take an already shaky premise and tip it over into the realm of outright silliness. In the most ridiculous of these additions--Spoiler Warning!--there is actually a plot development that suggests that Freddy was actually innocent of the charges of molestation and that the kids lied about what happened to them. In capable hands, this approach might have led to an interesting twist to the familiar proceedings that might have explained Haley’s presence (or at least made the film seem like an odd quasi-sequel to “Little Children”) but here, it leads absolutely nowhere and by the time it is finally abandoned (Good news, parents--you lucked out and killed a guilty guy after all), most people will find themselves wondering why they went down that particular path in the first place, especially in the service of what is nothing more than a cheesy slasher retread.

Then again, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the screenplay doesn’t work when nothing else about the film works either. Director Samuel Bayer, a music video veteran making his feature debut here, evidently has one basic scary move in his repertoire--the “BOO!” moment where something pops up out of the frame unexpectedly and causes the less canny viewers to jump in their seats--and deploys it over and over for 95 minutes without ever showing any real aptitude for it. The performances from the young stars are universally execrable--as our heroine, Rooney Mara turns in one of the most wan and lifeless performances in recent memory (even after factoring in that her character is meant to be exhausted and running on fumes) and her co-stars aren’t much of an improvement--while Britton and Brown are completely wasted and largely forgotten about in the second half. As Krueger, Jackie Earle Haley does what he can to live up to the unenviable task of replacing Robert Englund but in the end, all he has to offer is a slightly less psychotic variation on his performance as Rorschach in “Watchmen.” The special effects are obviously far more elaborate here than in any other “Elm Street“ film but completely lack the visceral impact of what Craven was able to achieve on a far more limited budget. As for the terrible final scene to the first film that I alluded to earlier, all I will say is that this, sadly, is the one area in which this new version has outdone the original.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a slickly made and ceaselessly stupid retread that seems to have been made for and by people who thought that last year’s revamp of “Friday the 13th” was too complex and arty for their tastes. With a lack of anything else of interest currently in major release, it will probably do well at the box-office, at least until the arrival of “Iron Man 2” next week, but my guess is that the exiting audiences will be divided into older viewers annoyed at the desecration of yet another icon of their misspent youth and bored younger viewers wondering what all the fuss was about. As for me, I was so bored with the whole thing that, ironically enough, I could barely keep my eyes open during it. Who knows--maybe if I had fallen asleep during it, I might have found myself being killed off by a better movie.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19472&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/29/10 23:57:24
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User Comments

10/31/19 kevin day A literal re-make with all the iconic scenes from the original being recognizable but "on s 4 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell STILL CRAP AVOID IT IM A OLDSCHOOLER 2 1 stars
10/29/16 morris campbell pointless trashy remake art u knock night of the living dead but praise this trash nothing 1 stars
5/21/15 David Hollingsworth Bay ruins yet again, the essence of another classic 1 stars
1/15/15 the truth An exercise in futile redundancy... minus a nose U_U 1 stars
11/21/11 cr a ok remake with some scares, gOod characters, cool effects, not for fans of org series. 2 stars
8/07/11 Chris F Very average could never have beaten the original 3 stars
8/06/11 art I TAKE IT BACK FOLK"S!,ROBERT ENGLUND is the only one you can play FRED KRUEGER! 3 stars
6/01/11 Chris White One of the worst remakes ever put out period. Complete trash. 1 stars
5/29/11 art I"M AN old SCHOOLER saw the 1984 original,BUT THIS NEW one is SUPER! 4 stars
5/22/11 Ming Wonderful remake..Scarely and fun to watch 4 stars
5/22/11 Braddock Pointless remake to a classic 1 stars
4/16/11 art WONDERFUL REBOOT!,FRED KRUGER would BEAT the TAR out of jason and micheal myers! 5 stars
1/29/11 Charles Tatum Haley's good, but the film is grimy and suspenseless 2 stars
1/26/11 Danny Just OK - average 3 stars
11/17/10 Jerome Cook Anyone who saw this as a kid is OLD! This movie is for your kids! now go die! 4 stars
11/09/10 mr.mike It was OK to watch on Netflix, but hardly earth shattering. 3 stars
10/26/10 gc Freddy is a child molester now?Another pointless re-make.Rent the original instead 2 stars
10/11/10 Robert Smith Very excited, but heck, even my fourteen year old fell asleep, surround sound and all! 2 stars
7/05/10 Realer Killer For the record, the "Stretch Armstrong Freddy" scene of the original is pathetic. Nice try. 3 stars
6/07/10 David Hollingsworth Stick to the original. 2 stars
5/15/10 M coulda been so much betta!! 3 stars
5/15/10 SPiritSLASHer HOLY CRAP, no really, this movie was crap, 1984 Freddy still the best! 1 stars
5/14/10 Alex Thorne Poor. Lacking all sense of tension, horror, and shame. JEH is the sole saving grace 2 stars
5/13/10 DK Nobody wanted it, and it offers nothing new. Unfortunate debut for the talented Sam Bayer 2 stars
5/12/10 damalc a good blend of originality and faithfulness to the original 3 stars
5/09/10 skrew32 Horrible portraying fred as a perv and not a killer if you liked this you cant be over 12 1 stars
5/09/10 Brettski This movie was garbage! What was up with the new Nancy? She was ugly and had a lisp? 1 stars
5/08/10 Pokejedservo Uneven but I did like the acting, I can stand this and I normally don't like Slasher films 3 stars
5/08/10 Tim Lyon This movie is boring as hell, what the hell where they thinking? 1 stars
5/08/10 JC Pierce It gets to be too many 2 stars
5/08/10 "Big Brother" nice interpretation of Freddie's backstory & motivation but lacks dread, Englund scarier 2 stars
5/04/10 Tori Jackie was an awesome Freddy! I also liked how serious it was unlike the original films 4 stars
5/02/10 David A. Good horror film, but Freddy's not the stylish, gleeful, supercool fiend we loved in 1984. 4 stars
5/02/10 bah2501 Um maybe the guy who reviewed this was super brave.. I thought it was the scariest movie!!! 4 stars
5/02/10 Kevin Crane FUCK YOU PLATNUM DUNES the worst of this shitty companies remakes!!!! 1 stars
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  30-Apr-2010 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010


  DVD: 05-Oct-2010

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