Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Posted April 29th, 2010 at 5:46 pm

Several horror franchises have successfully rebooted over the past few years by offering an updated stylistic look and fresh take on the stories. The Platinum Dunes production company has been behind a few of those including Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. A Nightmare on Elm Street will not be able to lay claim to a similar feat as the others.

Jackie Earle Haley did a good enough job as a replacement for Robert Englund in the role of Freddy Krueger. However the other performances, terrible dialogue, and predictable developments turned what was supposed to be a darker re-imagination into one that had the crowd laughing throughout.

A Nightmare on Elm Street has been advertised as being darker and more serious than past iterations. If that was the intention then they failed miserably. It turned out to be very much a by-the-numbers horror movie, the typical type of 80s horror that here was simply redone rather than properly updating it. The most vibrantly stylish scene was the one that opened the movie…and that was in the trailer! There really are no scares at all throughout. Attempts are made to build tension up to a point where an unexpected event can make the audience jump. It also uses the typical “is it a dream or is it real” trick to build that tension.

One of the biggest issues is that as an observer there is no emotional connection to the characters. They start dying early on, but why would anyone care about them? If anything it was easier to dislike them rather than feel concern for them. It ended up taking about halfway through the movie before the introduction of any backstory. At that point things finally started to come together a little better and the tension rose a bit, still there was never a point where I felt at all invested in a single character on screen.

The performances in the film outside of Jackie Earle Haley really drag everything down. Not that it would have been a good movie otherwise, but they are a big distraction. One character in particular was able to get laughs out of the audience with basically every line of dialogue she delivered. Thankfully she met her demise relatively early on. I tried to keep in mind that the characters are supposed to be sleep-deprived and maybe the intention was to seem on edge and nonsensical. Regardless almost all of them just come across as bad actors and that is never a good thing.

Generally I wouldn’t nitpick events that are just intended to move a story along. But things like characters sustaining injuries and shaking them off seconds later, a car getting run off the road in the middle of nowhere and then a brisk few second walk to their intended destination, and no one (including the parents) seemingly worried that all the connected kids are dying or have died. Seriously how do the filmmakers expect people to overlook those things? Even something as simple as a fake stand-in for Google, named “GigaBlast”, got chuckles as it was displayed far too prominently in multiple scenes.

I went into A Nightmare on Elm Street expecting a dark reinvention of the franchise. What it ended up being was a simple redo of a typical fright flick that prompted much more in the way of laughter than the scares it was trying for.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆