A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Review

Freddy is a special slasher villain. He brings people into his world, manipulating it as he wishes to torture his victims. When the time comes, he vaporizes the poor sucker, filling the room with their own blood.

Err, wait. That was the original. This Freddy just cuts people.

It is difficult to make Freddy Krueger boring, yet somehow this unnecessary, misguided remake does just that. Maybe it is because so much of Freddy is on screen, a constant presence, not some unseen shadow. He also talks far too much, taking a cue from the increasingly stupid sequels. Jackie Earle Haley has a few moments of note (the clicking of the glove is superb), yet the make-up betrays the source. He looks like a burnt mutation, not a victim of a cruel act.

One would think that with all of the years between the original and this remake, someone would have had an original idea for Freddy. His unique moments are pulled directly from the first film, the classic “wall push” now an embarrassing CG effect. Apparently, no one had the ingenuity to figure out how to do it practically anymore.

The entire film lacks that creative spark, and it truly does not rely on the original for much of its story. Freddy is simply not interesting, so regardless of where the plot goes and those constant explanations, the movie itself is not interesting.

Nightmare on Elm Street never explained much of anything. That was creepy. The audience eventually learned of the killer’s origins, but the opening scene threw everyone for a loop. Here, the audience already knows, so further explaining everything from sleep to why he is obsessed with Nancy (Rooney Mara) seems redundant. Freddy is no longer mysterious; now he has logic.

It is hard to imagine a slasher movie being dumbed down for a modern audience. At their base, they exist to show people being cut in various ways, which is what this latest Nightmare seems to exist for, missing the horror aspect entirely. “Scares” are nothing more than people jumping out of absurd places and a music cue loudly playing. The mental aspect of Freddy’s torture is lost, the scares forced on the audience because Jesse (Thomas Dekker) does not know how to knock when entering a room. Is it Freddy or is it Jesse? At this point, who cares?

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

Nightmare is a dark film, shot mostly with limited light from the opening frames inside the diner. This VC-1 encode keeps the black levels deep and consistent, although they could stand to be a tad deeper at times. Regardless, they are sufficient for the material, producing enough depth and shadow to satisfy for the entire running time. Crush is only an issue when in intentional silhouette, preserving shadow detail for the rest of the running time.

Past the intro, the film moves into some lighter areas to establish its story, including a funeral that opens with a vividly rendered establishing view at 9:33. Every blade of grass and every leaf is resolved and crisp, producing the level of sharpness that will remain the norm. Any softness is due to some in-and-out focal issues that are part of the source. You can see the results of this at 12:20, as the focus dips between precise and somewhat foggy.

Long shots of houses or other buildings are clean, the contrast, black levels, and typically cool color palette producing an image with clarity. A hint of aliasing can be made out along the gutters and various roofs (22:19 especially), although this is an absent problem otherwise. A minimal, light grain structure is typically well resolved, appearing slightly noisy on some brighter objects, such as the boxes in the attic as Katie Cassidy’s character investigates.

In close, facial detail is typically pleasing. A number of close-ups are quite strong in their dimensionality, aided by the high fidelity detail on display. While the above-mentioned focal issues cause problems in terms of consistency, there’s enough going around to please modern film fans. Freddy’s scarred face is mostly hidden (partially) by deep shadows until the finale when it comes into plain view. There are a number of Freddy shots around the 1:21:00 mark that lets the viewer appreciate the mixture of make-up and computer-generated imagery that blends seamlessly.

Video ★★★★☆ 

It’s the boiler room that makes this DTS-HD track what it is. There are some highlights prior, the water dripping in the classroom as Cassidy falls asleep creating an atmospheric environment, and the “nails on the chalkboard” effect as Freddy slides his claw across is as unnerving as possible thanks to the clarity.

Thomas Dekker is the first to enter Freddy’s main domain, greeted by not just spewing flames and hissing steam. To go along with all of that, which is all placed around the sound field, is a throbbing, deep bass cue. Whether it is supposed to the be the sound of an engine or part of the limited musical score isn’t very clear, but it generates a sufficient, powerful rumble. When dialogue becomes a priority, it becomes toned down to balance into the mix naturally. The scares have been provided. Entering into a dream, at least when the filmmakers want you to know, produces that same level of bass, one spectacular jolt that wakes you up while they fall asleep.

Freddy is always a presence, sometimes in the front stereo channels as he clicks his claw hand together, or as he laughs while his victims try to run away. The spinning effect of his voice is convincing and natural as it travels through. The track features an excellent balance, and not just with the bass. Dialogue is naturally rendered, and always audible. The gravelly voice of Freddy is clear and sinister, elevated when needed ensure his lines are heard.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Warner’s Maximum Movie Mode (called Maniacal Movie Mode here) returns with another in-depth look at the making of the film via various pop-ups and commentaries. Focus Points are split from MMM, seven brief video snippets pulled aside so you don’t have to watch the whole feature to find them. Freddy Krueger Reborn is your base featurette, purely promotional.

Additional footage (three scenes) includes a wisely deleted alternate ending, while Warner’s typical BD-Live portal can be accessed via this disc.

Extras ★★★☆☆