Is A nightmare on Elm Street (1984) worth watching? Movie Review (No-Spoilers)
The Halloween season is right at the gate, which makes October the perfect month to watch spooky movies. So, for the first binge of my horror movie streak, I went back to much beloved cult classic movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). This movie started a whole horror media franchise known as “A Nightmare on Elm Street (franchise)” and let me say this right off the bat that I’m not disappointed with the movie. It didn’t give the scare I needed but still it was pretty enjoyable.
Regarded to be one of the greatest horror films ever made, A nightmare on Elm Street focuses on a group of friends and a serial killer, Freddy. Freddy Krueger is a special killer who butchers people in their dreams and if he kills someone inside their dreams, they die in the real life too. So, you might never know which is going to be your last sleep because Freddy Krueger can be ruthless. To know more about Freddy Krueger, his past and how this group of friends will stop him, you have to watch the movie, I can’t tell you more than this considering this no-spoilers review.
So, A nightmare on Elm Street is a solid movie, wait let me rephrase it, it’s a very tense movie. Throughout its 91 minutes runtime, the movie manages to keep the audience at the edge of their seat. It doesn’t waste time on unnecessary things, it rather sticks to the plot which makes the pace just perfect and tense. There wasn’t any single second where I wanted to back away from it or I just wanted to pause the movie and look at anything else. It was just 91 minutes of entertainment, little bit of scares, trauma and thrills.
No, the movie is not very scary, but judging by the year it was released, 1984, it surely would have been traumatizing for teenagers. There were few jump-scares here and there, but they weren’t too scary and unexpected to induce fear in you. Just like every other horror/slasher movie, it does follow some horror tropes. There are murders in this movie and they are indeed very gruesome, but one of them surely could have been prevented if the character didn’t engage in those horror movie tropes. You can see where I’m going with this, the characters do in fact carry out some stupid things but in a way, tropes like these are really necessary to move the plot forward. Also, this movie was released a long time ago, so this isn’t really something to worry about.
The most amount of fear comes from the tense moments when you don’t know what’s going to happen next. The concept of the movie also helps in this, first it looks like another generic slasher movie, but then things start to get clearer and movie gets even more interesting. Director Wes Craven tries to leave some things for the audience's imagination. For example, during a murder scene, he shows the murder getting performed but doesn’t really show the body and you are left to imagine and interpret what actually happened to it by observing other characters’ reactions.
Now, at some points, the acting kind of seemed odd to me, especially of Heather Langenkamp who played the character of Nancy. Her expressions and reactions to certain situation didn’t really seem genuine to me. At some point she in fact does a commendable job, specifically in scenes where she had to act terrified or scream but at other scenes, I didn’t really find her natural. Maybe she was told to act in a certain way because I’ve also found similar type of acting from some great actors in these old 70s-80s movies. The other actors, especially Johnny Depp, do a good job with their characters. This is Johnny Depp’s debut role and he looks very young. At first, I couldn’t even recognize him but as always, he does a solid job in portraying the character of Glen.
So, concluding this review, I want to say that A Nightmare on Elm Street is a perfect blend of supernatural/horror and slasher, which will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s light on horror but the plot, concept and the lore are enough to terrify you a little and keep you entertained. Watch it with your lights off and I hope you have a lovely spooky time with this movie.
Note - The ending of A Nightmare on Elm Street is ambiguous and a little confusing. So, after watching the movie, if you're still confused about the heading, you can check out the other article we wrote about this movie's ending explained.
Suggested Reading - A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) ending explained with full plot of the movie.