A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
By: Julian on January 4, 2011  | 
DVD
Warner | Region 4, PAL | 2.40:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 92 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Samuel Bayer
Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Katie Cassidy, Kellan Lutz, Rooney Mara, Thomas Dekker
Screenplay: Wesley Strick, Eric Heisserer.
Country: USA
External Links
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Given its universal recognition as one of the mainstream horror greats, why A Nightmare on Elm Street hadn't been remade before this 2010 Platinum Dunes effort is a little bit mystifying. Alas the inevitable remake came, with Jackie Earle Haley ending Robert Englund's 25-year reign on the role of Fred Krueger, a demented child sex offender who stalks and slashes hapless teenagers in their dreams.

As it sits in Platinum Dunes' ignoble canon of remakes and reimaginings, A Nightmare on Elm Street '10 more closely resembles a sequel, and a pretty good one at that. Although it wheels out the same old premise, a little bit more is added to the Krueger mythology. This sets A Nightmare on Elm Street apart from many of its contemporaries, most of which don't have a great deal more to say about the legendary antagonists that they reprise. In Nightmare '10 we return to Springwood and we return to a Nancy, played by Rooney Mara, an actor that is poles apart from Heather Langenkamp's character in Mark 1. Here, Nancy is morose and detached, but not unlikeable – those who were barracking for Freddy as he stalked Langenkamp, who looked like someone extracted from the cast of Grease, will probably lend Mara a little bit more sympathy.

The murder set pieces in Nightmare '10 are cut from a similar cloth to those in the earlier movies, particularly the original, but they're not replicated exactly. The whole thing is very similar though, and this 'sameness' was something that I thought plagued the Nightmare franchise on a far more pervasive level than a lot of other horror franchises – aside from Freddy's major shift in gears between Part 3 and Part 4, after which he became a comedy icon, the films have stretched a one-trick premise too many times.

Therefore, where Nightmare '10's biggest success lies is in its expansion of the Krueger mythology. The earlier films – with the exception of the ridiculous "bastard son of 1000 maniacs" reveal in Part 3 – were unwilling to divulge too much about their villain, although we were teased with small details: we established early on in the series that Freddy was either a child killer or a paedophile, killed in a fire by the disgruntled parents of his victims. We see the events unfold more specifically in this movie in a series of flashbacks. For most on-screen villains, an element of mystique is essential – antagonists don't need to be bad for a reason, it's enough that they're simply bad, and I'm one viewer who resents filmmakers who ram justifications down my throat. But by the time the ninth film is shot (including Freddy vs Jason), something new is in order. Happily, the Nightmare remake delivers on this front.

To its further credit, Nightmare '10 delivers some highly satisfying jolt scares and Jackie Earle Haley eliminates Freddy's comedic overtones almost entirely, rendering the character more of an antagonist than he was even in the original film. Haley's performance is noteworthy and his acting, coupled with some impressive make-up work, should impress those who have not enjoyed the path that Fred Krueger took in most of the sequels. With the exception of Haley and Mara, the rest of the cast is shrill and unconvincing – that is to say, they are stock standard modern horror actors.

I rarely take a puritanical view to horror remakes, and I believe that Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street is not a film that is immune to improvement. While Craven's Nightmare is a quality film by any standard, it has become dated and is infected with some seriously poor acting. Craven remakes have had a decent record, and this one is no exception: while director Samuel Bayer didn't take full advantage of his opportunity and improve on the original, he has managed to direct the best film in the franchise since Part 3. Although the premise has become tiresome, this film has managed to add something new to the saga, and it should assuage the negative views of those who have opined that Freddy has become a benign, comedic figure. Recommended.
Video
The picture is presented in 2.35:1, with 16:9 enhancement. The quality is fine.
Audio
One English audio track, presented in English Dolby 5.1. The dialogue is clear and the background and foreground noise is balanced well.
Extra Features
One 13-minute making-of, Freddy Krueger Reborn. A disappointingly light set.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's probably fairer to look at Bayer's A Nightmare on Elm Street as a sequel rather than a remake, given that a remake immediately encourages a comparison to the original film and will therefore be judged far harsher than what a sequel would be judged. Given the similarities of the films across the board, and the fact that this is not a carbon-copy of the original, judging Nightmare '10 as a sequel is probably appropriate. Fifteen years after the last Krueger-only sequel and Bayer has done a decent, though not excellent, job filming the best in the series since Part 3.

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