A Nightmare on Elm Street

Movie Review #921


Premiered in Hollywood, California on April 27, 2010. Wide release on April 30, 2010. Horror/Mystery/Thriller. This film is rated R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language. Runs 95 minutes. American production. Director: Samuel Bayer. Screenplay: Wesley Strick and Eric Heisserer. Story: Wesley Strick. Characters: Wes Craven. Cast: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner, Rooney Mara, Katie Cassidy, Thomas Dekker, Kellen Lutz, Clancy Brown, and Lia Mortensen.


By Alexander Diminiano

Rooney Mara’s role as Nancy Holbrook in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (2010) marks her first leading role in a major motion picture. Often times that can mean a “breakthrough performance,” but I wouldn’t argue that at all. I’d wager that unless you’ve seen the “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake, you didn’t even know she was in the movie. And even if you had seen the movie, you wouldn’t have remembered because Rooney Mara practically wasn’t even a name until she appeared in “The Social Network”, later that same year. That, I would bet, was the film that launched her to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Side Effects”, and “Her”. Four years after her breakthrough, though, I still doubt that anybody associates Mara with her performance in “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. It might be the only facet of the movie that I could possibly commend without outright lying.

They dare call this a remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. I was genuinely afraid to sleep after I watched the original film just two years ago. So were very many who saw it when it was first released in 1984. Director Samuel Bayer’s remake, released over 25 years later, has no such effect on its audience. If you’re wondering what has happened to the original, well, it appears to have lined up to get shot in the back just like so many other horror classics.

Bayer’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake lacks all the genius that filled Wes Craven’s classic to the brim. Not that I need to steal a quote from Darth Vader, but this one is as clumsy as it is stupid. It’s as confusing as it is boring. If you don’t exactly have a handle on the Freddy Krueger story at the time you decide to rent the remake, you won’t have any idea what’s going on in the movie. It makes maybe point-six efforts to explain the back story. So in case my review isn’t enough to convince you not to see something so disappointing, allow me to explain the back story for you in three sentences: Freddy Krueger was a gardener at a preschool who wears a striped shirt likes to abuse young children. They tell on him, he dies at the hands of their vigilante parents, and at least a decade later, he comes back for revenge. Freddy has the power to invade the now-teenagers’ dreams, and if he kills them in their dreams, they die in real life, too.

This isn’t a horror movie. It’s a mess of dumb camera tricks, made possible by a $35 million budget provided in part by the Foolish Mr. Michael Bay. The screenplay is misguided and lazy. Almost every scene walks lackadaisically out of reality and into fantasy, only to be followed by the characters waking up immediately. They never realize when they’re dreaming and when they’re awake, and the script seems to decide this arbitrarily. The “it was only a dream” moment was effective when first used in “The Wizard of Oz”, but let’s consider how long ago that was, how many times it’s been cheaply imitated in the time since, and how many times it’s beaten to death in this “Elm Street” remake. You wouldn’t believe the number of clichΓ©s I haven’t mentioned.


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