Horror Movie Month! "A Nightmare on Elm Street" Review

Photo Credit: New Line Cinema

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Horror Movie Month! "A Nightmare on Elm Street" Review

Rating: R
Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: November 16, 1984
Directed By: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror

"A Nightmare on Elm Street" is a 1984 horror film that changed the course of the slasher movie genre and gained a cult following that lasts to this day. The original film has inspired numerous sequels, and there is still ongoing debate about some of the open-ended plot points of the franchise. The film stars Freddy Krueger, perhaps the most iconic horror movie villain of all time. The film opens with a teenage girl named Tina experiencing a horrific nightmare about a disfigured serial killer out to get her. When she wakes, she discovers real-world evidence of her bizarre and unsettling dream.

When Tina returns to school, she confides in her boyfriend, Rod, her best friend, Nancy, and Nancy's boyfriend, Glen, about the dream she had the night before. All four teenagers acknowledge having strange dreams the same night, but they dismiss the dreams as pure coincidence. Later that night, the group has a small party at Tina's house to comfort her since she is still shaken from her nightmare. While they sleep, all four are again taunted by the dream killer. Tina is brutally murdered by the killer while Rod is forced to watch helplessly. Upon discovering that he was supposedly alone with Tina when she died, Rod is taken to jail and held for her murder.

It doesn't take long for Nancy to realize that something far more sinister than a bad dream is happening to the kids on Elm Street. She and Glen investigate, only to discover that Freddy has claimed yet another life. Deeply disturbed, the two teenagers set out to stop their dream menace before they fall asleep and disappear forever. Nancy eventually uncovers a shocking secret that explains why she and her friends are being tormented in their sleep, blurring the lines of reality for the rest of the film.

Freddy Kruger is one of the most chilling horror movie characters to exist, thanks to his ghastly appearance and sinister motivations. His signature brown fedora and striped shirt signal the start of terror in any given scene, and his razor-sharp claw gloves are unmistakably terrifying. Although "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is technically a slasher film, the superb acting and innovative storyline transcend the genre, making this film a classic. Nancy, played by Heather Langenkamp, is a relatable heroine who instantly garners sympathy, making her plight in the film all the more suspenseful. As Nancy investigates, she is drawn into the hazy lure of her dreams that threatens to claim her very life. When the people most important to her are threatened, she is forced to put aside her overwhelming fear and stand up to a powerful evil force. The film has numerous jump scares, but each one comes with a carefully crafted buildup of special effects and solid character development.

The most enjoyable aspect of the movie is its unique filming style. Although decades old, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" still feels fresh and current. A small, idyllic neighborhood hiding a dark secret sets the perfect backdrop for this chilling tale of terror. As the main characters struggle to stay awake so they won't fall into the clutches of the malevolent Freddy Krueger, it becomes difficult to tell reality from a dream sequence. The haze between reality and fantasy is what makes "A Nightmare on Elm Street" a step above other films in which a violent killer pursues a group of teenage victims one by one. As the film progresses, you learn more about Freddy's background and uncover the shocking secret that the parents of Elm Street have tried to hide for so long. The constant battle of wits and determination between a teenage girl and a vengeful spirit leads up to one of the most shocking and visceral conclusions of any horror film.

Director Wes Craven made some brilliant casting decisions with "A Nightmare on Elm Street," which would become one of his most well-respected and beloved films. Seasoned actor Robert Englund delivers a spot-on performance as Freddy, lending both depth and believable madness to the role. Johnny Depp made one of his first film appearances in a supporting role as Nancy's boyfriend, Glen. Depp fans will doubtlessly enjoy this classic throwback to the early days of the actor's illustrious career. With such a diverse and intriguing cast, not to mention one of the most nefarious and cringe-inducing villains in film, it's no wonder that "A Nightmare on Elm Street" has continued to haunt the dreams of horror fans for so many years.

Rating 4 out of 5