Remakes used to come about when advances in technology promised flashier visuals, or when a story could be retold in an updated manner. With the speed in which remakes are being created and as evidenced by the 2010 version of A Nightmare on Elm Street, no longer is a valid reason necessary for redoing a film. Obviously a presold audience exists, but this film follows the original too closely and with zero improvements on the original plot. The blood may gush more freely, the violence is more brutal and the acting is more convincing, but the opportunity to take Freddy Krueger’s character in a different direction was left untouched. Additionally, Freddy’s makeup has become less disturbing, and although Jackie Earle Haley is a fine actor, nothing can quite beat the idiosyncrasies of Robert Englund’s first performance.
Dean Russell (Kellan Lutz) has been having bizarre nightmares involving a horribly disfigured man wielding a glove outfitted with knife fingertips that chases him around various, terrifying locations. He dozes in a coffeeshop and awakes to discover that his hand has been slashed by the man’s blades; moments later the murderer finishes the job. Dean’s friend Kris (Katie Cassidy) witnesses the killing and at the funeral begins to see frightening hallucinations, many involving little girls. When speaking with a few of Dean’s other schoolmates, she realizes that Jesse (Thomas Dekker), Quentin (Kyle Gallner) and Nancy (Rooney Mara) have all been similarly visited by haunting dreams of the same mutilated man.
Kris eventually can’t stay awake and succumbs to the violent attacks of Freddy. Jesse is arrested for the crime and taken to jail, where he too falls asleep and is hacked to pieces. It’s up to Nancy and Quentin to figure out Krueger’s origins and to fend off sleep long enough to survive this boundary-breaking nightmare. Since the original film was made in 1984, almost everyone with a mind to see the remake is already familiar with Freddy, his history as a child molester and his ability to murder people in their sleep. Unnecessarily, this version follows almost the exact same plot, utilizing an equivalent for every character and matching death scenes that render the already familiar jump scares even more predictable.
This reimagining represented a chance to be creative. Freddy has already obtained a cult classic horror status, so where are all of the new, fresh, scary ideas? Freddy’s push through a latex wall, his gloved hand rising from between Nancy’s legs in a soapy bath, Kris’ body being dragged in a bloodied body bag, and Nancy’s sprint through a viscous hallway are all redone, with half the shock value as before. Krueger’s backstory gets visualized, an unrealistic semi-love story attracts Quentin and Nancy, comparisons between Freddy and the Pied Piper of Hamelin are brought up, and the intensity of sleep deprivation and micro-naps alter nonessential elements of the basic themes. But not enough changes. The music is still fun (although it’s practically the same score), the locations are still horrifying (from the school to the library to the bedroom to the boiler room, now all more like Silent Hill), and the horror is even more unrelenting, but ultimately, like the countless times a loud noise distracts us or Freddy’s scarred face jolts onscreen or he scratches his claws against sparking metal pipes, the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street is largely repetitive.
– The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)