A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors ★★★★

After the atrocious first sequel, Freddy's Revenge (1985), Wes Craven returns as a strong creative influence - co-writing the script - and what results is the best film yet in the series. Yes, I said it, this one surpasses the original. Director Chuck Russell returns the sense of comprehensive balance (meaning Freddy can't just appear out of thin air whenever he wants), and thriving from the traditionally dazzling dream sequences. But what the original lacked that is present here is a smart plot outside of the visually stunning dream world.

Heather Langenkamp returns as Nancy Thompson, now a graduate psychologist who returns to her hometown to work in the local hospital. There she learns that Freddy Krueger continues to terrorize the last remaining children of Elm Street. Now with a justifiably campy setting, the strength of the concept immediately strengthens. An added bonus is that we are actually able to sympathize and even relate to the young kids being tormented. Including Patricia Arquette in her major film debut, she plays Kristen Parker, one of the young victims who possess the ability to bring others into her dreams.

This also marks the first time Robert Englund is able to truly shine as sadistically charming Freddy Krueger. He has always been memorable, but before he was often limited to being a lurching maniac with few moments to himself. Here he is given nice screen time and more freedom to steal scenes, a fitting arrangement for the main attraction.

Although, it all comes down to substance. This is the first time I felt like there were layers to the story, the origin or Freddy's character is finally explored and the true effects of his power are finally acknowledged. Chuck Russell does splendid work with the visual qualities Craven so splendidly mapped out. Butt Craven's to the creative spectrum brings that much needed flair to the story, and with that comes unexpected moments of magic.