A Nightmare on Elm Street

Bottom Line: Easily one of the most boundlessly daunting films ever made.

Directed by: Wes Craven
Starring: Amanda Wyss, Heather Langenkamp, Johnny Depp, John Saxon, Nick Corri, Robert Englund, Ronee Blakley

“One, two. Freddy’s coming for you.
Three, four. Better lock your door.
Five, six. Grab your crucifix.
Seven, eight. Gonna stay up late.
Nine, ten. Never sleep again.”

Rarely ever do I so haplessly fall victim to a horror movie. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a truly terrifying experience. The presentation of fright works in a fantastical atmosphere, but as the plot presents a dynamically convincing tie between dreams and conscious happenings, there is a realistically ominous, densely macabre sensation of terror escalating by each passing second. This is the tale of a group of teenagers, haunted by the same nightmare in which a deformed child killer (Robert Englund) in a hat, a striped shirt, and knives for fingernails, is stalking them. Upon waking up, they discover that whatever has happened to them in the dream (i.e. scars, contusions, burns, etc.) is real. Yet outside the dreams, the man himself is only the hidden spirit of a child killer named Freddy Krueger. He is using dreams as his “afterlife” to grotesquely murder the sons and daughters of the lynch mob that killed him.

What sets Nightmare apart from the typical “slasher” is its ingenious story. Wes Craven’s atypical story is a clever, consistent variation on “breaking the fourth wall,” not because the audience is addressed by the characters, but because our general reaction to horror movies is assessed. The famous tagline (“If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all”) massively understates the sensational presentation of spooks and mystery. Combined with Robert Englund’s taunting performance as the killer, the drastic changes in personalities, and the permeating dreamlike suspense, you may find yourself awake all night simply due to a fear of falling asleep. It’s easy one of the most boundlessly daunting films ever made.

A MINUS

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5 thoughts on “A Nightmare on Elm Street

  1. The thought of my dreams not being safe gave me so much anxiety as a kid but other than this first movie I’ve never cared much for the Nightmare series on a whole, I’ve always been more of a Friday the 13th kind of guy. Maybe that’s because the idea of those movies is less scary to me…

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