A Nightmare on Elm Street is a special film for me. It’s one of the first movies that really got me interested in movies and everything about them. Actually, when I first got into movies, it was mostly horror movies and this one always stuck out. From the frightening character of Freddy Kreuger (and Robert Englund’s great performance), questioning what scenes were dreams and which were reality, the camera work, and the performances being great for the most part, this movie is a standout slasher flick from the piles of generic ones.
The movie opens up with us not having a clue as to what is going on. An unknown person is creating a glove with knives on it. Then, it cuts to Tina Gray (Amanda Wyss) having a nightmare about this man with his glove. It’s a simple but effective opening. The next day, we find that Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp), Glen Lantz (Johnny Depp in his film debut), and Rod Lane (Nick Corri) all had the same nightmare, and this man wants to kill them all, but why? One of the best aspects of this film is how things don’t get explained to us. Who is this man with the burnt face and knife hands attacking these children? It is towards the end of the film where we finally get answers and it works so well because we don’t know.
Regardless, this film is filled with plenty of terrifying sequences. From the first death on screen which is mixture of reality and dreams and scenes in the school hallway to the boiler room, each scene is crafted to perfection. The camera work stands out in this film especially when compared to horror movies today which are filled with shaky cam and not being able to tell what is even going on. In this movie, they don’t hesitate. The camera will follow characters as they run from Freddy chasing them down and it won’t shake the camera around like crazy. It keeps everything clear. This is the defining slasher movie in my opinion. It’s tasteful, well-done, and actually has interesting themes with dreams. And it unfortunately led to (mostly) crappy sequels just like most slasher flicks did (although, the 3rd sequel and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare are actually really great). Overall, this movie will always be special as one of the first films I ever really got into and besides that, it’s just a fantastic horror film that knew what it wanted to do.