A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street ★★★

When you're not a horror fan, visiting a revered classic of the genre can be fraught with danger. If it doesn't work for you, or if the film has aged badly, can you legitimately slaughter it, or is it a time-capsule movie that the years simply haven't been kind to? Of all the old horror franchises that I've seen, I'd never actually watched any of Wes Craven's Nightmare On Elm Street films, so when my wife suggested the first one from 1984 I thought I'd give it a shot.

Wes Craven was Hollywood horror royalty alongside the likes of John Carpenter, George A. Romero, and Tobe Hooper, until his death back in 2015. Of those four only Carpenter survives, but the credit those guys built up with horror fans means they wont be forgotten anytime soon. Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street is a movie that started a major franchise, followed over the years by five sequels, one cross-over with Friday The 13th, a homage to the original, and a whole new remake in 2010. The Freddy Kruger character has been scaring audiences for 35 years now, but I'm still trying to work out why? This has an originality about it, that I will admit, but in terms of genuine scares it struggles to convince despite a really interesting concept and backstory. That's where the film shines, there's depth to the story, the whole child-killer roasted alive by parents backstory is the stuff of nightmares itself, but the actors' iffy performances and the obviously meagre budget actually make this look just a little cheap. Depp and the awful Heather Langenkamp don't add much to the mix here as the teenagers who attempt to defy Freddy by staying awake, and although their dream sequences are fairly good, I was expecting to be scared witless here. It's patchy, Englund's Kruger doesn't get enough screen time for me either, but I can see glimpses of why this is so popular among horror fans. Unfortunately I think I'd built this one up in my head as one that would give me nightmares, it just didn't quite live up to expectations.

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