Freddy Krueger gets a face-lift (but no reconstructive surgery) in this remake of Wes Craven's 'A Nightmare on Elm Street.' The Ginsu surgeons at Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes take a whack at yet another celebrated horror classic. And as with previous efforts, their credentials prove questionable, as this has to go down as one of the worst hack jobs around. Well, maybe not nearly as bad as their 'Friday the 13th (2009)' or 'The Hitcher (2007)' endeavors. But it's still pretty bad. Come to think of it, what's up with a production company that only focuses on revisiting movies of the past. Even at their most original, 'The Unborn,' their releases still feel redundant and over-processed. Whatever their reasoning, they have yet to truly impress and win over gorehounds and devoted followers of the genre.
Frankly, I'm surprised I enjoyed 'Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)' as much as I did. I mean, come on. The plot of this retelling runs through pretty much the exact same course as its inspiration, down to imitating certain visual cues that are near identical. Although later sequels in the original series were transformed into a parody of the franchise, Wes Craven's initial film carried a great deal of cheeky humor mixed with wonderful atmosphere and gore. But this 'Nightmare' trades that in for a much darker and somber tone that wouldn't be a source of complaint if it wasn't for the filmmakers then suddenly introducing some stupid wisecracks from the killer with knives for fingers. In fact, every time the lovable maniac of dreams speaks, the real nightmare begins, as we awake to what a waste of time this is.
Much of the blame could arguably be placed on Jackie Earle Haley, the man behind the prosthetics of a burn victim. But frankly, I have to give the actor some credit and praise for bravely donning the dirty fedora hat, the grimy red-and-green sweater, and chasing after teens with a tattered, rusty glove of knives — the iconic weapon of choice synonymous with the name Freddy. Robert Englund built his career on making Krueger into one of the most beloved characters of the horror genre. So much so that it's nearly impossible to imagine anyone other than Mr. Englund continuing in the role. They are bloody big shoes to fill, and I give kudos to Haley for trying to portray Freddy in his own unique style. Unfortunately, it doesn't work, and he's unconvincing as a fearsome villain.
I would argue a bigger part of the blame go to a horribly weak script by Wesley Strick, whose strongest work was in 'Arachnophobia' and Scorsese's 'Cape Fear,' and Eric Heisserer, who makes his debut and apparently only shows promise in the "remaking and reimagining" business. There's nothing in this story to be scared of, the characters are basically carried over from other remakes, and the runtime is wasted on an already-known back-story. Why are the filmmakers wasting so much celluloid on Freddy's past, the obvious mythos of the character, which any movie fan can tell you? Adding to the mess is a cast that feels so hammy and forced that any potential for real acting is quickly overshadowed, especially for Mr. Haley. Worst still is Rooney Mara in an absolutely dreadful portrayal of Nancy.
As the leading heroine, Mara resembles a popsicle stick with googly-eyes and strands of yarn. She's completely devoid of emotional range, spending much of her time mumbling and mundanely reading her lines and making sad, droopy faces. I don't want to cheer her on against Freddy as much as I want to hug her and tell her it'll be all right. It's okay; it's just a dream. This Nancy seems and feels like a background character intended as fodder for the monster. So I kept waiting for that inevitable moment when she meets her blood-splattered doom since she's so annoying in the first five minutes. I just couldn't figure out her purpose as such an unlikable character. I also can't imagine a popsicle stick with a liberty spike and body piercings playing Lisbeth Salander, but it's going to happen. I really hope David Fincher made the right decision in this, but I honestly fear she'll be the downfall of his version of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.'
About the only thing making this unnecessary and pointless movie worth watching once is for the directorial debut of Samuel Bayer. He's also the only reason I even enjoyed this drek. With attractive photography by Jeff Cutter ('Orphan'), Bayer affords this 'Nightmare' rehash a dark and atmospheric style. He's able to generate some entertaining scares and create a genuinely creepy mood as the kids travel between their dreams and reality. Things are kept at a brisk pace, and he's really the only reason this Freddy version has any malevolent and charismatic power. This is the kind of 'Nightmare' you forget very, very quickly.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Warner Home Video and New Line Cinema bring 'A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)' to Blu-ray as a two-disc set, housed in a blue eco-case that holds each disc on opposing panels. The first is a BD50, Region Free disc with all the special features, while the second disc is both a Digital Copy and DVD of the movie in standard definition. The package also comes with a 3-D hologram glued to the front of a cardboard slipcover. The disc starts with a promo for BD products and digital copies before greeting viewers with the standard selection of menu options and the same still of Freddy Krueger found on the cover art.
'A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)' makes its Blu-ray debut with a brilliantly glossy and squeaky-clean 1080p/VC-1 encode (2.40:1) that really shines in several sequences. There are, however, a few spots where resolution noticeably dips and black levels fail to make a striking impact. That's not to say they're a major hindrance, since many nighttime and poorly lit scenes are passable and mostly accurate, but they could've been deeper and richer for a movie so dependent on them.
On the plus side, visibility is excellently well-maintained in the darkest and grimiest portions of the frame, such as the murky interiors of Freddy's boiler room and basement. By and large, the video is attractively detailed with first-rate definition of the finer background objects and textures. Contrast, too, is spot-on and comfortably bright, giving the picture a terrifically sharp, cinematic quality. The image shows some fantastic dimensionality and depth of field, particularly in daylight exteriors, but those few softer, flatter scenes at night hold the presentation back somewhat. The freshly-minted transfer displays a very flamboyant and energetic color palette, making this one very colorful horror movie. Even in those boiler room sequences, there is a good deal of light and red, orange, amber hues washing over the image. Of course, this is all deliberate by the filmmakers, and they still look quite attractive. Facial complexions appear natural and can be revealing, especially in close-up. All things considered, this new 'Nightmare' looks outstanding on Blu-ray, and fans are sure to find little to complain about.
Warner/New Line also throws in a DTS-HD Master Audio that slightly better and impressive. Being a horror movie, atmospheric effects are often employed to generate a very entertaining and immersive soundfield. This is most noticeable during dream sequences as subtle, discrete sounds fill all the speakers to create an engaging and spacious imaging. The soundstage is quite active and feels welcoming with excellent channel separation and precise acoustical detail. The mid-range, also, is extensive and sharply rendered, giving the film a nice sense of space and spookiness. Pans and movement throughout the entire soundscape are convincing and persuasive. Vocals are discernable and clear even in the movie's loudest moments. The low end is highly responsive and full-bodied, providing the most intense moments with some serious power and weight. When the scary nightmares kick in, Freddy offers a decidedly frightful experience in this lossless audio mix.
Warner Home Video releases this Blu-ray of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)' day-and-date with the DVD and it shares only one supplement with its standard definition counterpart. The rest of the material is made available only on the two-disc Blu-ray package.
Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes tackles yet another horror classic and beats it into submission in this rehash of 'A Nightmare on Elm Street.' While there's not much to enjoy about the movie, and some of the acting is greatly lacking, at least this modernized take on 'Nightmare' shows style and atmosphere thanks to Samuel Bayer's direction. Jackie Earle Haley also performs admirably in a role that can really only be filled by one actor. Still, this new, more malevolent version of Freddy is not a complete success. The Blu-ray comes with a great picture quality and a better audio presentation to really amp-up the scares. The supplemental collection doesn't seem like much, but it's a winner nonetheless since most of the bonus materials are exclusive to owners of the high-def format. For fans of this dour remake, the package is as satisfying as they come. But for the curious, and followers of the original franchise, this 'Nightmare' requires little more than a rental.