Since A Nightmare on Elm Street premiered back in 1984, this iconic series helped shape the future of horror and slashers by introducing a notable villain that allows for a creative set of kills. Seven movies were created and a spinoff, Freddy vs. Jason; however, a reboot was made official, and it starred a pretty solid cast such as Rooney Mara, Clancy Brown, and Jackie Earle Haley. The film was met with dismal reviews upon release; however, A Nightmare on Elm Street did exceptionally well at the box office, making over $100 million based on a production budget of $35 million. The 2010 reboot remains the highest-grossing entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street saga, but surprisingly, no sequel was made despite a strong tease of one at the end. There’s no official word on why Warner Bros. didn’t capitalize on the success of the film, though there have been whispers that the feedback of the film was one of the main reasons Warner Bros. hasn’t done a sequel. Plus, Wes Craven wasn’t particularly happy about the studio not contacting him about the reboot. However, another reboot for the franchise has been in the works, though no official date has been confirmed. So, what happened with the 2010 reboot? There’s no denying that the film was a commercial success; however, the reboot fails to live up to the high standards that were set by the original film.
One of the key changes of the reboot is that Freddy’s backstory was changed a bit. In the original, Freddy was a child murderer; however, the reboot went in a darker direction by making him a pedophile. Here’s the thing, making Freddy a pedophile really does suck the fun out of the series altogether. Don’t get me wrong, child murderer isn’t much better, but the crime isn’t as disgusting and heinous as a pedophile. Freddy Krueger is the star of the franchise. The Robert Englund version was still a playful and campy voice with tons of charisma and charm that allowed you to enjoy the presence of the main antagonist. Jackie’s Earle Haley’s version wisely takes a serious approach because thankfully the filmmakers understood that audiences would never have fun with Kreuger because his backstory is something that no one can ignore, but making Kreuger a darker character notably dragged the film down. Without Freddy’s charm and wit, the film had to rely on the protagonist to carry the film; Despite having Rooney Mara cast as the lead, even she’s unable to overcome a bland script. Her, Quentin, Kris, and Jesse aren’t particularly exciting characters to follow. Granted, Nancy Thompson wasn’t the most thrilling “final girl” protagonist in film history; however, Nancy was a spunky and active protagonist who happens to be very likeable. We’re not rooting for Nancy just because some child murderer is trying to kill her, we’re root for her because she’s able to connect with the audience. Robert Englund stated that the film jumped into the plot too quickly without developing its characters first, and that statement rings true.
In some ways, A Nightmare On Elm Street is at war with itself. There are several interesting ideas introduced, but the filmmakers mainly stick to the original film’s plot beat by beat. In turn, the story is less exciting because we know where the movie is going. A Nightmare on Elm Street fails to do anything bold or original that could shake-up the movie. The kills are not fun. They’re clearly a homage to the original film; however, they pale in comparison, especially Johnny Depp being eaten by his bed. Visually, the film is actually impressive, though the CGI effects are terrible. By no means was Wes Craven’s version perfect; In fact, that ending with Krueger dragging Nancy’s mother through the door was not particularly good in execution, but the practical effects of the film were top-notch otherwise. The most effective kill is actually in the beginning, where Dean cuts his throat open. It’s a chilling scene that effectively established Freddy Kreuger’s power and is the most inventive kill in the reboot, despite it being a simple throat cut. Most importantly, the effects look great thus making the moment more haunting and surreal. Kris’s death fails to have any impact because of the obvious CGI ruining what was a cool and terrifying moment in the original. Gwen’s death is pretty cartoonish as well; however, it’s definitely better than the original ending. All-in-all, A Nightmare on Elm Street failed to add anything new to the world of Freddy Kreuger. There are some new ideas introduced, but the biggest one of making Kreuger a pedophile actually holds the film back. Had the reboot taken some risks by deviating from the source material then it wouldn’t come across as such a bland remake that should’ve desperately focused more on the main characters.