This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Mr. DuLac’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
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.
-Creepy Little Girls
It's easy to forget just how great the original Nightmare is because it's been adulterated through so many sequels with virtually no input from it's original creator. Make no mistake, this is a horror classic that contains the complete creation of a legendary horror villain. It wasn't just a case of a great villain being created, but one of those rare occasions where the casting was perfect right out of the gate.
Written and directed by Wes Craven, he goes way beyond the call of duty here. He could have stopped with the creation of Freddy Krueger with his modus operandi and called it a day. The film would have been a huge hit with such an original killer never before seen in film, but Craven created a deep mythos, origin and a community with a history for this story to take place in.
The story is also genius if you ask me. Maybe taking a queue from the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Craven introduces us to a character that is presented as the lead of the film in Tina played by Amanda Wyss, just to actually kill her off first. Of course he would do this again in another famous film, but I think he pulls it off better here.
She comes into the story not as a lone character, but part of a group and almost it's leader in sorts. Not only does her death mean more, but it's used as a great plot device for other characters like her boyfriend being the obvious suspect in her murder and people thinking that dear Nancy is mentally unstable because of it.
Craven also does a fantastic job of blurring the lines between reality and dreams on an extremely tight budget. He's able to turn up the tension by simply putting a miniscule suggestion that what we're seeing might be a dream, which then means the characters are in immediate danger. He understood that keeping the audience guessing would cause suspense as opposed to outright telling them that danger is present.
I don't think Heather Langenkamp is an amazing actress by any stretch of the imagination and she might not even give a great performance here, but she embodies the sweet teenager that is willing to put up a fight. Robert Englund on the other hand is what probably puts the film over the top. He IS Freddy Krueger and he's a vile evil personified. To this day I still find some of his scenes with 19 year old Langenkamp incredibly creepy. That Johnny Depp kid might have a future if he puts a little more effort in his next roles.
The story has a great pace matched by an escalation in special effects and gore. It's by no means "slow" however as even the first kill is ahead of it's time leading up to the geyser of blood in the third act. It's as if Freddy Krueger descended on middle class America in their safe clean suburbs and said "Guess what? No one is safe, not even you!"