A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street ★★★★½

For reasons that are not completely clear to me, I thought it would be a good idea to watch the entire Nightmare on Elm Street franchise from beginning to end. I last tried this with the Hellraiser franchise around last Halloween, but have up four movies in because it was clear there was nothing worth watching past that point. The good news is, I am already done with the Nightmare franchise, and even at its lowest points,the films remain incredibly watchable. There is something inherently interesting in seeing the character of Freddy Kreuger adapt throughout the 80s, and how many changes he could go through in less than ten years, being passed from director to director.

It all starts here, however, with Wes Craven's original Nightmare on Elm Street, the only film of the franchise that was a rewatch for me, but I have not seen this film since it scarred me at an impressionable age on late-night tv. I would wager to say this film profoundly scared me when I was younger more than anything else I would ever watch.

Coming back to the film at the age of 22, I find it more fascinating than scary. It's clear the crew were working with pretty severe limitations, and what they were able to pull out of the limitations is quite remarkable. I love the idea of using practical effects to create a surreal sense of dream-logic, something that the groundwork is laid down for here, but wouldn't be fully realized until the third installment of the series. What we do get is the most macabre incarnation of Freddy Kreuger that has ever been portrayed, and the rules laid down for how he goes about his dirty-work spurs the imagination. of course he is always lurking one step ahead of you, you can't run away from your own dreams.

There is some cringeworthy dialogue present here, as well as some questionable acting, but this is undoubtably a horror-classic. One that remains as much of an adrenaline rush today as it was thirty years ago, laying down the foundation for a character that would permeate horror culture for decades to come.

Ryan liked this review