A Nightmare on Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven and released in 1984, not only brought a fresh new take on a static genre but also created one of the most famous horror icons. Whether you are a horror aficionado or not, you probably know who Freddy Krueger is and what he looks like. There isn’t much to write about A Nightmare on Elm Street that hasn’t been written before ; I am just here to confirm that the film does deserve its reputation.
Nancy and her friends are having the same nightmare every night : a strange and frightening man with a burnt face and a metal claws glove is chasing them. When her friends start dying in mysterious ways, seemingly in their sleep, she realizes Freddy Krueger might be more real than she thought. Only Nancy can stop him as nobody believes her when she warns the adults around her.
A Nightmare on Elm Street is a groundbreaking horror film. Freddy Krueger is the first villain of his kind. Until then, horror villains didn’t talk much or at all : Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface…But then comes along mister Freddy Krueger, the king of one-liners ! Freddy is extremely entertaining and you find yourself almost cheering for him…until remembering he’s the bad guy. He brings a lot of comedy to the film but instead of having it tone down the horrific atmosphere, it creates a unique tone and renders the killings even more sadistic. Wes Craven created one of the greatest horror villains in film history. His look is perfect and iconic : the burnt face (amazing make-up), striped sweater, fedora and of course, the infamous glove ! Freddy Krueger is a perfect character and I have nothing negative to say about him.
Now, let’s talk about the other characters. After all, we need teenagers for our Freddy to have fun ! Nancy is a great main character. She is strong and doesn’t give up easily. Unlike most slasher characters, she doesn’t make stupid decisions or acts irrationally. She tries her best to fight Freddy in a realistic manner. She’s a good opponent to Freddy although the way she ultimately defeats him is quite disappointing. The rest of the group of teenagers is also compelling, they’re not the typical annoying teens and you feel bad when they eventually get killed (but damn is this also really fun).
The film is extremely well shot and some scenes offer horrific and yet beautiful imagery, such as the bodybag dragged by an invisible force in the school corridor. The practical effects are extremely well-made, the story takes us to several great locations and there’s a perfect amount of gore. If you haven’t seen this classic yet, I can only recommend that you put it at the very top of your viewing list !
One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock your door. Five, six, grab a crucifix. Seven, eight, gonna stay up late. Nine, ten, never sleep again.