Brian Tyler’s review:
From the shots of a dirty old man building himself a razor-claw weapon to the final shot of the jump-roping children, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET always keeps my interest all the way through no matter how many times I watch it. To me, it’s the perfect horror film.
What I enjoy most about it is that once Tina is killed about fifteen minutes in, we are in Nancy’s shoes for the entire rest of the film. We are right there with her the whole way, watching her battle the mysterious boogeyman in her dreams, barely escaping her life while everyone fails to believe that something is really going on. Sometimes, we don’t even know if what we’re seeing is dream or reality, and neither does Nancy. There’s nothing more terrifying than having those two worlds collide with no one to help us.
Fortunately, Nancy is not just some weak girl who cries and waits for someone to save her. She has a tough life, living with her alcoholic mother while her father who she barely sees is working constantly as a police lieutenant. She only has one close friend and a less-than-sensitive boyfriend. She really only has herself to rely on, so not only does she go into the dream world to pull the demon out himself and bring him with her into the real world, she’s ready for him. Her house is filled with booby traps and she’s prepared to fight. Let’s face it, if Freddy was after Laurie Strode… she’d be fucked.
Heather Langenkamp is amazing as Nancy, showing us a very innocent, vulnerable girl-next-door who just happens to be tough and resourceful when she has to be. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. I love John Saxon in every role and this is definitely no exception, he plays a bit of a cold, distant father but you can tell he cares very much about his daughter. Ronee Blakley gives a very strange, eerie vibe as the mother who is obviously hiding something. I always get chills when she reveals the backstory to Nancy in the basement. Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss and Jsu Garcia feel very natural and real, I cared for them all even if their characters didn’t get that much screentime. And of course, Robert Englund is scary as hell in his first time as Freddy. His first scene with Tina always gives me the chills. He mostly sticks to the shadows in this one, but even when he comes out and spits out some one-liners he still feels very threatening. The makeup is also perfect.
And of course what would this film be without a great horror director behind the camera. This is, to me, Wes Craven’s best work. Every scene has a bit of a dream-like vibe to it and all the nightmare scenes are very intense. My favorite parts are all the boiler room scenes. Very effective. Charles Bernstein also gives this my favorite horror score of all time, I even love it more than John Carpenter’s Halloween soundtrack.
My favorite scene is the climax, where Nancy just turns her back to Freddy, and takes all his power away from him. It may seem weak to a lot of people, but I don’t think many people would be brave enough. It took a lot of courage. To me, it’s the most powerful scene in the movie.
The only problem with this film, I guess, is the ending. I can’t make sense out of it, I don’t think anyone can. However, I don’t hate it, it’s so weird that it works. Although, it does kind of ruin that perfect moment I was just talking about.
My friend says that he wishes this film was half a prequel, like Rob Zombie’s Halloween, showing Freddy as the child killer before he was burned by the Elm Street parents. I think it’s perfect just the way it is, where we learn about who Freddy is and what’s going on along with Nancy.