A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Explained poster

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at 2010’s A Nightmare on Elm Street. A remake of 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, since there hasn’t been a sequel to this remake, you can guess how this will go.

A group of teens are targeted by a serial killer with the ability to kill them in their nightmares while they attempt to discover their link to him.

Is A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Scary?

Although A Nightmare on Elm Street tries to be creepy, it doesn’t succeed most of the time. The kills are pretty gory so if you’re not a fan of blood or shocking deaths then you’ll be uncomfortable in a few scenes.

Overall you won’t leave A Nightmare on Elm Street scared at all unless you’re watching the original.

Plot Synopsis:

The film opens at the Springwood Diner where a main character Dean (played by Kellan Lutz) gets ignored by a waitress. Realizing that the diner is suddenly empty, an extremely tired-looking Dean walks into the kitchen and spots the waitress walking into a room. A loud bang catches his attention and as he walks away, he doesn’t notice Freddy Krueger (played by Jackie Earle Haley) walking behind him.

Freddy stalks Dean in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
You should always look behind you at random, sporadic times

Freddy attacks, cutting at his hand but it’s revealed to be a dream when Dean is awoken by Nancy (played by Rooney Mara) who is a waitress at the diner. She warns him to stop falling asleep and we see the diner is actually full of patrons.

After Nancy walks away, Dean notices a cut on his hand where Freddy cut him. Dean’s friend Kris (played by Katie Cassidy) enters the diner and sits with Dean, noting how he looks like he hasn’t slept in days. He tells her that after talking to a therapist about his past, the nightmares started and now he doesn’t want to sleep anymore.

He accidentally spills coffee on Kris and, while she goes to clean up, Dean falls asleep. Freddy appears and Dean grabs a knife to attack but he’s overpowered. As Freddy forces him to cut his own throat, Dean yells out that Freddy isn’t real. Freddy responds that he is now. 

In the real world, Kris sees Dean holding a knife to his throat and then killing himself.

Dean is killed in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Main character Dean 

Title screen! 

We cut to Dean’s funeral where we see the rest of the cast. Besides Kris and Nancy, we have Kris’s ex-boyfriend Jesse (played by Thomas Dekker), and his friend Quentin (played by Kyle Gallner) who has a crush on Nancy.

At the funeral, Kris falls asleep (rude) and sees herself as a child wearing a dress with claw marks across the front. After waking up she notices a set of pictures of her and Dean at a playground. Interestingly she tells Jesse that she didn’t meet Dean until high school so that’s freaking weird.

Kris tells Jesse that she thinks someone was forcing Dean to kill himself but Jesse dismisses it. Nancy walks over, says she believes Kris, and is about to say she’s seen something or someone but Jesse interrupts her. He indignantly says Nancy didn’t see anything and wasn’t there despite Nancy literally being there.

Jesse pulls Kris away and Nancy, who is not by herself with no one around, says out loud, “you have no idea what I’ve seen.” The drama is real.

That night Kris is looking through some photo albums and discovers pictures of when she was around 5 years old are missing. Her mom tells her they’re probably in the attic but she seems awfully suspicious when she suggests Kris put the albums away. 

Later, after her mom is asleep, Kris heads into the attic and finds some boxes of old pictures and a dress with slash marks on them. The lights go out and Freddy attacks asking if she remembers him. Kris wakes up screaming before Freddy can kill her.

At school the next day Kris falls asleep and we get a pretty cool transition into her class becoming a burnt dreamland.

Freddy appears causing Kris to run into the hallway but the door just leads her into another class where Freddy is waiting. We finally get our first clear look at Freddy and… it’s not great. Freddy alludes to knowing Kris from her past and cuts a piece of her hair off. Kris wakes up in the real world screaming because I guess she hates haircuts.

Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
“Hi, I’m Freddy and for today’s class we- why are you screaming?”

Kris rushes home and goes back into the attic but stops when her mom interrupts her. Hold on, is Kris the main main character? We’ve spent so much time with her. Kris’s mom, who is a flight attendant, leaves for work and tells Kris to get some sleep.

That night Jesse knocks and climbs in through her bedroom window which wasn’t necessary at all since Kris is home alone. Dude, just ring the front doorbell. Kris tells Jesse of her Freddy nightmares and Jesse reveals he’s having the same ones. He tries to calm her down and promises to stay the night with her.

Later, Kris wakes up and hears her dog barking outside. Following his barks, she finds his dead body and Freddy appears. Kris runs back into the house which converts into a preschool where the younger version of her tells her to hide. As they run through the hallway, they spot Freddy and Kris wakes up sweating.

After washing her face in the bathroom, she lays back down and instead of Jesse, it’s Freddy. In the real world, Kris screams while she’s still asleep waking Jesse up. Kris’s body is lifted in the air, tossed around the room, and slashes appear down her body, killing her.

Terrified, Jesse runs out the front door triggering the alarm because he’s an idiot. Since he’s running like a madman with blood on his shirt, someone sees him and yells out that they’re calling the cops. 

Meanwhile, Nancy is at home drawing when Jesse runs in and tells her Freddy killed Kris in her sleep. Before he leaves he warns Nancy not to fall asleep. Outside the police are searching for Jesse and they find him extremely quickly.

Sometime later, Jesse is already in an orange jumpsuit and in prison already? The legal department on Elm street moves EXTREMELY quick. Also, I say sometime later, but it must literally be just a few hours later since we cut to Nancy and she is still in the same clothes. So this is the same night. 

Did Jesse even get questioned? Did he have a lawyer? Why wasn’t he in a holding cell instead? Did a 24-hour judge sentence him already?

The following day a guard tells Jesse his family posted bail. As they walk through the halls the guard disappears and the prison turns into an old boiler factory. Hearing Kris’s calls for help, he traverses through the factory until Freddy appears and starts chasing him. Freddy then kills Jesse by shoving his arm through his chest.

At a bookstore, while Quentin waits for Nancy he falls asleep and sees a little girl watching him. Following her through the store he sees Freddy sitting with a group of children but he’s woken up by Nancy in the real world. 

The two research sleep and realize they have both been dreaming about children in a preschool. Quentin offers Nancy some of his zoneral medication that he takes for his ADD and says it’s basically speed. Nancy declines and Quentin says they’re running out of time. 

According to his research, after staying awake for 70 hours, a person will start experiencing micronaps which are quick bursts of sleep that the person doesn’t realize are happening. Staying awake past that mark will cause your brain to shut down and induce a coma. Quentin calls this “permanent sleep.”… so death? 

I guess Quentin doesn’t know that staying awake for too long will cause death but the movie is treating a “permanent sleep” coma as a much worse outcome. I’d argue dying would be worse than my brain putting me in a coma that we have no idea is actually permanent.

Quentin and Nancy at the bookstore in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
“Holy shit Quentin, stop being dramatic and just say we’ll die without sleep.”

At home, Nancy asks her mom Gwen (played by Connie Britton) if she used to go to the same school as Dean, Kris, Quentin, or Jesse or if she knew someone named Freddy. Gwen lies through her teeth and says no. After leaving Nancy’s room, Gwen calls someone privately and says Nancy is starting to remember.

Nancy sets an alarm and gets in a bath where she immediately falls asleep, almost like she wanted to fall asleep. Freddy’s hand reaches up from the water but he disappears when Gwen knocks on the door. After getting out of the bath, Nancy leaves the bathroom entering into a snow-covered bedroom that converts to the outside of a preschool. 

Freddy appears and tells Nancy to remember him as she is his “little Nancy”. He also licks her and that was gross. Nancy wakes up in the bath as Quentin calls her to tell her Jesse died in his sleep which is a huge understatement.

The following morning Nancy and Quentin search Gwen’s home office and find a hidden folder containing a preschool class photo with her, Quentin, Kris, Jesse, Dean, and others. Gwen walks in and Nancy asks why she lied. Hilariously Gwen says she didn’t lie as Nancy is holding the picture, literal proof, in her hand. 

Gwen finally reveals that she was trying to protect herself from some repressed memories. Apparently, all the kids went to the same preschool where the gardener, a human and alive Freddy Krueger, lived, worked, and played with the kids. Eventually, the kids started acting differently at home and some showed up with scratches on their backs.

We see a flashback of Freddy Krueger telling a child Nancy about a secret cave he has in the basement. We then see Nancy tell Gwen about the cave. Essentially Freddy Krueger was sexually abusing the children. In the present Quentin asks if they called the police and Gwen says that Freddy left town before they could confront him. 

Human Freddy in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Yea, sure, he just “left”

Nancy and Quentin leave and Nancy suggests they find the other kids in the picture but Quentin thinks there’s nothing more to investigate. He believes that the nightmares they’ve been having are just the repressed memories coming to light. But hey, what about their three dead friends? He doesn’t mention that little wrinkle in his theory.

Later at swim practice, Quentin gets dragged into the water and pops out outside the old boiler factory. Clearly, he’s dreaming but did he fall asleep while swimming? What the fuck? Quentin sees human-Freddy run by as multiple cars also dash by, chasing him.

Freddy runs into an abandoned building and Quentin sees the drivers are the parents of all the teens. As Freddy denies doing anything wrong, Quentin’s dad lights a gas can and tosses it through the window. The flames engulf the building along with Freddy.

Freddy Krueger is killed in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
Oh look Freddy’s leaving

Quentin wakes up at the pool, having been resuscitated by his coach. So he did fall asleep while swimming… what the hell man. 

Meanwhile, at the library at school, Nancy looks into some of the other children in the picture and finds out some of them are dead. She finds the website of Marcus Yeon (played by Aaron Yoo) where he has been uploading videos describing his nightmares of Freddy. 

In his last video, a distraught and tired Marcus says he can’t fall asleep or he’ll die. He then falls asleep on video and he gets thrown into the camera as it cuts out… who uploaded the video? Quentin arrives and tells Nancy that he knows what happened to Freddy.

The two go to see Quentin’s dad and Quentin flips out and says they killed an innocent man like a fucking idiot. Is he working for Freddy? Did Nancy not tell him about her nightmare where Freddy licked her?

Nancy and Quentin decide to head to the preschool because, in one of the videos Marcus posted, he mentions Freddy wanting him to find something there. Before they head there, Quentin stops by the pharmacy so he can refill his prescription. While he’s in the pharmacy, Nancy waits in the car and starts experiencing micro naps. 

After a jump scare where Freddy throws her out of the car, Nancy wakes up in the car and uses the car’s cigarette lighter to burn herself. She heads inside to get Quentin but the pharmacy converts into the old boiler factory. Freddy shows up and as Nancy falls, she grabs his sweater and rips off a piece. Freddy then slashes her upper arm and Nancy wakes up as Quentin finds her.

The two decide to go to the hospital where Gwen shows up and Nancy tells her it was Freddy. The doctor enters and wants to give Nancy an injection to put her to sleep. This doesn’t make sense as the slashes are on her arm and she just needs stitches. Meanwhile, Quentin steals some epinephrine from a nurse’s cart in the most obvious theft ever.

The doctor asks to speak with Gwen outside the room and tells her she has to sedate Nancy which, again, DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. Anyway, this allows Nancy to escape the hospital and meet back up with Quentin where they drive to the preschool.

While driving and despite having taken the epinephrine Quentin has a micro nap and sees Freddy in the road. Swerving the car to avoid him, the two crash into a ditch but they’re completely fine and they conveniently crashed near the preschool anyway.

The two break into the abandoned preschool and enter the basement. There they find Freddy’s room and all his stuff because apparently no one ever cleaned out the building.

“Hmm how many other killers with finger blades do we know?”

The two find a hidden room and proof that Freddy was sexually assaulting the children, specifically Nancy. I bet Quentin feels like a real dumbass right now. Nancy realizes they have to kill Freddy and remembers the piece of his sweater she pulled out of her dream. You would think this would have been a bigger topic of conversation but nah.

Nancy plans to sleep, grab Freddy, and bring him out into the real world so they can kill him. Quentin is to stand watch and wake up Nancy if she starts to struggle. He then rips off the rusted blade from a paper cutter to use as a weapon.

Nancy goes to sleep and Quentin falls asleep almost immediately! This guy fucking sucks. Freddy attacks him and slashes his chest but before he can kill him, Nancy calls out to Freddy. He finds her and after a chase sequence with some cheap jumpscares, and some pretty good visuals, Freddy pins Nancy to a bed.

He tells Nancy that he let her live long enough so when she finally did fall asleep, she wouldn’t be able to wake up. In the real world, we see an injured Quentin use the epinephrine to wake Nancy up as she grabs Freddy.

The two appear in the real world and Quentin slashes Freddy with the paper cutter. Freddy stabs him in the shoulder with his claws and throws him across the room because Quentin sucks. Nancy jumps atop Freddy and stabs him multiple times with the syringe but he throws her off of him. 

As he goes to stab her, Quentin stabs Freddy with a shard of glass in the leg and Freddy knocks him back. Freddy turns to kill him which is just showing me that Freddy needs to set a goal and stick to it.

As Freddy lifts his arm, Nancy chops off his hand (glove included) with the paper cutter. Freddy turns around towards Nancy who says “you’re in my world now bitch” as she slices his neck open with the paper cutter.

As Quentin and Nancy leave, she sets the room on fire. The ambulance and fire department arrive and we overhear someone saying they didn’t find a body. Later Gwen and Nancy enter their home and Freddy appears behind Gwen in a mirror. The film ends as Freddy kills her by shoving his claw through her face.



A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) is not good, it starts off okay and just gets worse as it goes. The acting is pretty good and the visuals are the best part of the movie (except for Freddy’s appearance) but everything else is bad.

As a caveat, I won’t compare this to the original since it’s an average movie review and I think the average movie-goer most likely hasn’t seen the original. Honestly, it’s a good thing too since there would be SO MANY more negatives and issues with this movie.

First the story, characters make non-sensical choices that feel like they’re only there to further the plot instead of the plot happening organically. For example, the parents of the teens are trying to hide what happened to them at the preschool so why does Kris’s mom tell her exactly where to find the literal evidence of what happened? When Kris asked where the pictures are, don’t say they’re in the attic. Also, why are we following Kris like she’s the main character for the first third of the movie?

The movie doesn’t do a good job of establishing the main teens are friends and you might think they’re not but they all attend Dean’s funeral. There are no other scenes of the 4 being friends and there’s only one scene where Nancy interacts with Kris and two with Jesse. Quentin who is established as being best friends with Jesse in the opening scene only interacts with him in that one scene.

Quentin also makes the worst choices that make no sense whatsoever as a way to force the movie along and manufacture drama. He easily believes their dreams are just repressed memories but 3 of his friends have died, there’s obviously some weird shit going on especially since he was the one who did all the research on dreams. Later, Quentin easily and with no proof believes that Freddy was innocent, it’s just stupid and nonsensical.

Another thing that stood out was Nancy pulling out a piece of Freddy’s sweater and saying absolutely nothing about it until they get to preschool. By that point, she’s had conversations with her mother, a doctor, and Quentin. Pulling something out of your dreams should be a big fucking deal.

The dialogue is pretty bad as well, characters say things just to be dramatic but the lines don’t make sense for the scene they’re in. For example, at Dean’s funeral, Nancy’s dialogue is overly dramatic (I write about it in the plot synopsis), and later in the bookstore, Quentin’s statements about permanent sleep. His dialogue when confronting his dad about Freddy is also nonsensical.

The last negative I’ll write, despite there being plenty, is Freddy. Jackie Earle Haley does a great job at being a sinister Freddy but when the movie tries to lean into the comedic Freddy, it doesn’t work. Also, his appearance gives that more sinister and gritty look so him trying to be funny falls flat.

Overall skip A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), there’s no point in watching it especially since the original was so much better and still holds up.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 14%

Metacritic – 35

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