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Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street

MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody horror violence, disturbing images, terror and language.

Reviewed by: Brian C. Johnson
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Fantasy Horror Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
April 30, 2010 (wide—3,150+ theaters)
DVD: October 5, 2010
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures

VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer


Dreams in the Bible

Visions

Fire

Sin

Death


FEAR—What does the Bible say? Answer

AFRAID OF THE DARK—How can I help my child to trust in God’s care when she is afraid at night? Answer


Final judgment

Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer

What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer

THE GOOD NEWS—How to be saved from Hell. Answer

Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer

Featuring: Jackie Earle Haley (Freddy Krueger), Kyle Gallner (Quentin Smith), Rooney Mara (Nancy Holbrook), Katie Cassidy (Kris Fowles), Thomas Dekker (Jesse Braun), Kellan Lutz (Dean Russell), Clancy Brown (Alan Smith), Connie Britton (Dr. Gwen Holbrook), Lia D. Mortensen (Nora Fowles), Julianna Damm (Little Kris), Christian Stolte (Jesse’s Father), more »
Director: Samuel Bayer
Producer: New Line Cinema, Platinum Dunes, Michael Bay, Richard Brener, Mike Drake, Andrew Form, Bradley Fuller, Walter Hamada, Erik Holmberg, Michael Lynne, Dave Neustadter, John Rickard, Robert Shaye
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Never sleep again.”

Twenty five years have passed since the world was first introduced to Freddy Krueger, the psychopath who terrorized the dreams of his victims in the film “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Horror master Wes Craven’s classic thriller brought the Boogey-man back to life as Krueger, who had fashioned a glove with knives for fingers, was able to invade the dreams of sleeping teens; if he killed them in their dreams, they died in real life. Those who saw this film in the 1980s cannot forget this character (masterfully played by Robert Englund)—his sarcasm, his wicked laugh that sent shivers down the spine, and his comedic spark—all of which made Freddy all the more scary.

In the 2010 remake, that Freddy Krueger is gone. Director Samuel Bayer takes Freddy (this time played by Jackie Earle Haley; most fans would recognize Haley from his teen years as Kelly from “The Bad News Bears”) in a decidedly nuanced direction. Aside from a few minor scenes reminiscent of the original, Bayer sets up a bit of a prequel to the original where we get the back story of how Krueger became the villain that he is.

A gardener at a local pre-school, Krueger, we learn, is a pedophile who had been abusing several children. When their parents learn about his misdeeds, they chase him into an abandoned warehouse and set fire to the building, and they make a pact never to speak of the dead man ever again, nor tell the children what he had done to them. With his power to enter their dreams, Krueger hunts down his former victims, one by one. Only Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner) realize Krueger’s plan—can they stay awake long enough not to be killed?

There is not much here for the Christian viewer. Bad language, violence and murder, pedophilia, and suggestions of rape. Surprisingly, there is no nudity (in one scene, Nancy disrobes to get into a bathtub—nothing is shown. While in the tub, Krueger’s knifed hand appears between her legs). One redeeming scene late in the movie shows Quentin hanging a cross around Nancy’s neck for protection; when she questions his religiosity, Quentin argues, “Hey, you gotta believe in something, right?”

The simple question that begs to be asked is why anyone would want to mess with such a classic film. Admittedly, the remake is much better than the sequels which were made (e.g., “Freddy vs. Jason”), but the remake is still a bit unnecessary. Remaking Craven’s work is comparable to someone trying to redo Hitchcock’s “Psycho”; it just should not be done. Wait, bad example… someone already did that and failed. How about “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”? Oops, too late! “Halloween”? “Friday the 13th”? A message to all would-be-film-remakers—“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—Saw this yesterday with a friend. Being a fan of the originals I had high expectations. I’m pleased to say that this version is very creative and the characters are very much like there predecessors were in the original film. I am also pleased to say that the film spares the audience of any kind of sexual content and/or nudity. The film is genuinely scary and I recommend it to fans. An attempt to remake the original, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is worth at least one viewing.

The special effects are not overly gory. The film really plays on the whole, “who can be lurking behind that scary corner?” scenario. My only objection is the makeup used for Freddy Krueger’s face; I think sticking more to the original make-up structure of the older films would have been better. Even though they changed the “Freddy face” they left the striped sweater and dusty brown hat. If they were going to change Freddy’s look they should they gone all the way and re-imagined the look. It seemed like they were trying to make Jackie Earle Haley look as much like Robert Englund as possible.

The film had two references to Christianity that I remember. One of them being when Nancy (Rooney Mara) sees Quentin (Kyle Gallner) wearing a cross and says, “I would never have thought you were the religious type.” To which he reply’s, “Well, you gotta believe in something.” Quentin later gives Nancy the cross just before they confront Freddy together. The second instance I noticed is when Kris (Katie Cassidy) says, “Oh G*d” when she sees Freddy, to which Freddy responds, “No, just me.” The first instance with the cross seemed to say that Christianity and crosses are just good luck charms that protect you. The second instance was blasphemy.

The film doesn’t have any preaching or message of Christian hope. It remains fairly neutral in its mention of Christianity. However, I would like to draw attention to the selfless heroism which is always refreshing to see in horror films. None of the characters seemingly “deserve to die.” They all show that they are genuinely concerned for one another. The old slasher flick rules of smoking + sex = you die a horrible death is not true for this film.

The film maybe offensive to many people, however it is pleasingly less cheaply gory as the “Saw” films and “Hostel.” Highly recommended.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—George, age 23 (USA)
Positive—Let me start off by admitting I am a fan of the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” brilliantly created by horror legend Wes Craven. Just say the name Robert Englund, and just about anyone over the age of 15 will know you are referring to Freddy Krueger. Knowing what this remake had to live up to—brought to audiences by the same team who brought us remakes of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Hitcher” and “Friday the 13th.” I was wary, but excited to see their attempt at one of the greatest horror films of all time.

In this update the story has been changed around as well as the characters, though the parallels are obvious to a viewer of the original. The movie begins with a nightmare encounter with Krueger and doesn’t ever let up.

Dean (Kellan Lutz), Nancy (Rooney Mara), Kris (Katie Cassidy), Quentin (Kyle Gallner) and Jesse (Thomas Dekker) are all having nightmares that involve a man who wears a red and green striped sweatshirt and has a bladed hand. As Kris witnesses first hand (though she doesn’t know what to think when it happens), the nightmares are very real. Dean is killed in a restaurant while he is talking to Kris, shouting “You’re not real.” He wards off an invisible attacker, and sticks himself in the neck with a knife.

After Dean’s funeral, the others begin to realize that they are connected beyond the nightmares, they have a shared past--but no one can remember how. All their parents are tight-lipped, something is definitely going on.

But no one could imagine just how dark their past was. As the body count rises, it’s up to Nancy and Quentin to uncover the past and set things right, but what they discover is worse than their dreams. Freddy (Jackie Earle Haley) was once involved in the lives of the teens when they were children, and what he did caused the parents to insure their memories would forget the events that transpired in Kreuger’s “secret cave” as he calls it in one scene.

To put it clearly—Freddy was a child molester. The original “Nightmare” let us know through hints and some suggestion, just so we would know how vile Kreuger was, but this time around the content is far more blatant. This is the most disturbing part of the film in my opinion, and I am glad it is somewhat quickly dealt with closer to the film’s end.

Language: I wasn’t counting, but there were enough f-words spoken to catch my attention. I would estimate in the 20s. The other words all get their own chances to be said, and all pepper throughout the film.

Violence: How should I describe the violence in a movie that essentially is about violence? It’s pretty heavy stuff. Freddy cuts up quite a few victims, leaving bloodied slashes, a girl falls into a pool of blood as she runs from Kreuger… there is quite a bit of bloody violence to be seen. In the dream world, Freddy has his victims strung up, and their corpses are a frightening and gory sight to behold. We see Freddy catch fire, this is how he was killed. If you are a squeamish viewer, don’t even bother trying to watch this movie.

Sexual Content: As I noted above, Kreuger is a child molester, and after we learn this his character takes on a sicker-than-before persona. He tells Kris she “looks as beautiful… as ever.” He let’s Nancy know “You were my favorite.”

As Nancy dreams, Kreuger has her pinned to a bed (as she is dressed in a child’s dress) and he holds her down suggestively. He touches her with his clawed hand, saying “Your mouth says ‘no’, but your body says ‘yes’.” The sexual content is very disturbing, and it made me uncomfortable to watch, not only because of my Christian convictions, but just common sense. Anything done sexually to children is vile and horrid.

I am a huge fan of horror, so seeing this was inevitable to me, but do I recommend “A Nightmare on Elm Street”? It’s a mixed bag. The violence and language are expected in any modern horror film (though sex scenes are refreshingly absent), but the sexual content involving child molestation is a big blow to the film. It’s scary in that respect, because there are really people in the world that do gross things with children, but in the film it just makes the viewer uncomfortable.

If you like scary movies, and are a big a fan of Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach, “Watchmen”) as I am—I guess I could recommend going to see “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” It’s an entertaining and jumpy film, but has it’s own set of drawbacks.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Benjamin Badger, age 18 (USA)
Positive— First off, disclaimer, I am a fan of horror movies in general and ANOES movies especially. They (and this film in particular) appeal to me for many reasons, some of which are: mystery, suspense, and tension of storytelling, jump-out-at-you-scare type adrenaline spikes, and protagonists forced to confront horrible opposition—their own worst fears personified—and come out victorious.

I was confused while reading other reviews for this film by the admonition that this movie somehow glorified evil, even encouraging it in viewers. I fail to see how they could not have noticed that Freddy Krueger is PURE EVIL. He has no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. While he was (in this film) briefly portrayed as sympathetic it was simply a result of a storytelling deception that Krueger himself perpetrated on the protagonists and audience, further emphasizing his evil when all was revealed. “You are from your father the devil, and you chose to do your father’s desires. He was a murder from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Anne, age 20 (USA)
Negative

none

Movie Critics
…Good luck staying awake. … the back-to-the-beginning approach unimaginatively goes through the motions, offering scant justification for its boring existence, at least from an artistic point of view. …
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…offers dutifully grinding thrills of a routine sort. …
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…The script comes off sounding like something crafted with cigarette burn marks on the back of a cocktail napkin. … The only real difference this time around is that the pre-charbroiled Freddy has escalated from twisted child killer to lurid pedophile. …
—Bob Hoose, PluggedIn
…This “Nightmare” more like a puzzling little dream… The …remake is intelligent, well-acted and great-looking. But if you want to be scared, you’re out of luck.
—Chris Hewitt, St. Paul Pioneer Press
…lame one-liners… For a few minutes the movie threatens to become interesting—then retreats. … Predictable “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake lacks fear factor…
—Kyle Smith, New York Post
…I stared at “A Nightmare on Elm Street” with weary resignation. The movie consists of a series of teenagers who are introduced, haunted by nightmares and then slashed to death by Freddy. So what? Are we supposed to be scared? Is the sudden clanging chord supposed to evoke a fearful Pavlovian response?…[1/4]
—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—As a follower of Jesus Christ, I do not plan on seeing “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and will encourage all of my friends to do the same. Like so many other horror movies, it lacks any moral and redemptive value for the viewer and it simply glorifies evil. The sanctity of human life is never encouraged, in fact, the film’s entire plot is driven by violence and the ending of innocent human life in brutal and inhumane ways. This goes against what God is all about and all that He stands for. In Proverbs 6:16-19, it states that the Lord hates and detests, among other things, “hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil.”

As Christians, we are instead called upon to follow God and His ways and not be attracted to the darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5). We are to put on the full armor of God “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-17). Lastly, we are to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,” things that are “excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).

I will not see this film and encourage all Christians to do the same. Let’s not support films that glorify evil, darkness, and violence. Instead let’s support films that give all the honor and glory to God and the unmatched love and compassion that He has for all of mankind.
—Les, age 39 (USA)