This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Xebeche’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
First watch. I really admire the formalism of A Nightmare on Elm Street. It earns its keep as the poster child of 80's horror atmosphere and bloody effects. It's not necessarily the best (because that's what The Thing is for), but this combines supernatural and slasher horror together with such skill and authority that it is appropriately beloved.
My question is: is this movie too famous for me to think the rules of its main concept are confusing? Or thin? Granted, the ending is a bit of a scramble that brings the entire climax into question of what is real and what is dream. That's good fun, but in terms of basic rules, am I to believe that Tina was still asleep as she was being cut open and flung against a ceiling and that Rod was still asleep as he was being hung in his jail cell? I can go the extra mile that Kruger's power includes a sort of dream sedative ability as he mutilates teenagers, but the victims so often seem awake. At times I thought that if Freddy got you in your dream, you're dead, but that isn't consistent either. I'm coming into this movie with a world of preconceived notions and iconography, but I was genuinely confused by the functionality of Kruger, his methods, and his powers. I did not expect to be. For such a wicked awesome concept, I expected more clarity. By all means, tell me if I'm A) missing something, or B) expecting too much.
But in all honestly, I'm fine if the rule is just that assholes die. Johnny Depp can't fucking stay awake til midnight. He even got a second chance when his mom came in and woke him up at 11:45. He fell back asleep, the little shit. In retrospect I really enjoyed being infuriated with him and everyone else in this movie. A cop stands watch over Nancy's house with specific instructions from his boss, her dad, to alert him if "anything fishy" happens. Nancy shatters windows and scream bloody murder and he is still on the fence about what to do. If Hitchcock pioneered the ticking clock as a method of suspense, Wes Craven pioneered the ticking clock with a stupid asshole standing next to it doing nothing. It works.
If I had seen A Nightmare on Elm Street as a kid it would have terrified me. Some noteworthy university should conduct a study of insomnia and its relationship to subjects who viewed A Nightmare on Elm Street at a young age. It didn't scare me, but I thought it was super cool. I go bananas for gruesome practical effects (have I mentioned The Thing?). Of all these characters, I really liked Nancy and the way she conquered her fear. Her arc is fantastic. She Home Aloned the whole house and kicked Freddy Kruger's ass. I love when he got gut-checked by that mallet.