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A Nightmare on Elm Street
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Nightmare on Elm Street -- a "reboot" of the classic 1984 slasher film, and the ninth film about "Freddie Krueger," a serial killer who attacks teens in their dreams -- contains all the expected gore (throat-slashing, burning bodies, car crashes, eye-stabbing) and nightmare imagery (like a girl sinking into a pool of blood), with a slightly darker tone than the original. In this version, Oscar-nominated actor Jackie Earle Haley plays Freddie as a more twisted, tragic figure -- a suggested child molester (though nothing is seen or even overtly discussed) -- who is taking his revenge against the people who destroyed him. The movie contains strong language (including "f--k" and "bitch") and some mild hints of teen sexuality, as well as some references to drugs (for staying awake).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
On Elm Street, a teen tries to stay awake, apparently afraid of a scary man with knives for fingers who threatens to kill him in his dreams. He eventually succumbs and dies, leading the rest of his friends to fear for their lives. After more grisly deaths, Nancy (Rooney Mara) and Quentin (Kyle Gallner), try to stay awake long enough to find out who Freddie (Jackie Earle Haley) is and what he wants. Their search leads to a terrifying truth, and a mysterious past incident involving all their parents. But even armed with this knowledge, can they still defeat Freddie before their exhaustion catches up with them?
Is it any good?
The idea behind this horror series is still extremely effective. It brings terror to the one place where we should be safe: sleep. This new reboot follows the same structure and uses some of the same scary imagery from Wes Craven's 1984 classic original. It's competently made, and the characters and dialogue feel authentic enough. The digital special effects are more modern, in a way that will appeal to today's teen viewers.
The new movie differs mainly in the character of Freddie. As portrayed by Oscar-nominated Haley, he's less funny and more twisted and tormented, especially in his flashback "origin" sequences. But the suggestion of child molestation brings the movie right out of the "fun" realm; it's far more disturbing than entertaining. Though one saving grace is that the teens in this movie are generally good kids -- not the sex-obsessed or mean teens that often find their way into horror films.
Talk to your kids about ...
What is the impact of seeing so many gruesome images in horror movies like these? Teens: Do you think you'd feel less empathy for someone getting hurt if you saw too many movies like this one?
Why is Freddie scary? What makes him different from other "slashers" like Jason or Michael Myers? Do you think movies like these condone real violence?
For kids who love to be scared
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.