"A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Directed By: Wes Craven
Written By: Wes Craven
Released: June 1st, 1984
Runtime: 91 minutes
Studio: New Line Cinema
When Nancy starts telling her friends about the nightmares she’s been having including a particular scarred individual with knives as fingers threatening to kill her, they realise they’ve all been having the same nightmare every night... Something sinister is happening on Elm Street, and as the dreams become more frequent and more deadly, Nancy must find a way of stopping Freddy Krueger before it’s too late...
Freddy Krueger is quite possibly one of the most iconic characters to come out of cinema history. His appearance, if nothing else, is not a pleasant site. You wouldn’t like to meet him in a dark alley way, would you?! But even the concept of this story is scary enough because it's revolved around the idea that people can’t control their dreams, meaning they are at their most vulnerable, which creates the perfect foundation for such a psychopath to pounce. The other side of it is that people need to sleep but if they do they’re under the threat of being murdered, so they try not to sleep, but of course the body will eventually shutdown automatically unbeknownst to us...So, basically, there is no escape from the sadistic Freddy Krueger. I guess even the concept of his character is quite horrible. He, basically, just gets pleasure from terrorising these teenagers and there’s not much else to it, really.
So, why would one watch such a thing, you might well ask?
Well, there are some creepy scenes. The dream sequences are very well done because they are done in such a way that resembles real-life dreams. We never actually feel ourselves falling into the dream. We always remember waking up, but never entering, we’re always just sort of there in the middle, and usually never know we’re dreaming until the moment we wake – unless, of course, we’re able to lucid dream (an idea which this film plays around with too). Just like the characters, we are simply thrown into the dream without warning, everything seems perfectly normal until the scraping of knives is faintly heard...So the film has a very surreal kick to it which keeps the tension going all the time. Even the opening scene plunges us immediately into the dream, immediately into the eeriness. I think the music helps such eeriness.
I have to say though, I did find the characters in this movie slightly irritating in moments. I didn’t particularly like Tina’s character, I just found her annoying which was a bit distracting. I wasn’t a huge fan of Nancy or Rod’s characters either. However, it was the Nancy’s mother which irritated me the most. I’ve never been able to pin point exactly what it is about them, I would say possibly the acting in the mother’s case, but I just never liked them. I guess it was more at the beginning Nancy irritated me, because during the rest of the film I managed to lose myself in the story and I didn’t take so much notice anymore. Interestingly, it is Johnny Depp’s very first movie. He looks so young in it. He’s quite good, I wouldn’t say it was his best role, but it was his first, so...
There was a remake made of this film in 2010, and I actually think it’s just as good as this in some ways. I like that it gives more background to Freddy’s character so we can actually grasp a better understanding as to how he came to be the terror that he is. It does give some brief explanation or suggestion in the original version, but for me personally, not enough. So I liked the remake for this reason. They did add some new details into the plot too, which I think makes it stand pretty well as a film all on its own – remake or not. Obviously there is no comparison between the two Freddys...(in fact there were several sequels and a few actors who have played Freddy in between) but Robert Englund will always be Freddy Krueger. He’s just got the voice and the expressions to send chills!
I imagine it was a lot scarier when it first came out. While I can see and appreciate the techniques used to attempt to make it scary, I personally didn’t find it so. The blood, for one thing, is just...visibly fake, really. There’s a moment in which I just laugh as Nancy pushes Freddy down the stairs in an exciting climax, and the fact she was able to do that and he did actually just fall, made him not so threatening. I actually find that moment amusing. It’s like, what happens in the movie, stays in the movie. The type of character Freddy is, logically I shouldn’t like this movie at all...but I guess it’s the dream aspect of it that always draws me in because I’ve always had a fascination with the concept and the technicalities of dreaming anyway. I also like the skipping rhyme of “One, two Freddy’s coming for you...”
Hmm...I guess because of how iconic this character has become if you like this genre then I would say it’s definitely not one to be missed.