In honor of the passing of Wes Craven, I decided it was finally time to watch what is probably still considered his masterpiece. And I am so, so sad that I did not take the time to watch A Nightmare on Elm Street sooner. This is a really fantastic horror movie full of truly nightmarish visions, real scares that leave a lasting impression, and buckets upon buckets of blood that never cross into the territory of tasteless. This is a moody movie about adolescence, the sins of our parents, and the price we might pay for them, and it’s every bit as effective as its genre companions (Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th).
The execution here is simply astounding, above and beyond any of the previously mentioned films. Even though I might like some of them more than this, A Nightmare on Elm Street is an exceptionally well crafted film that stands tall above the others in almost all technical aspects. Every shot is so carefully crafted and chosen, setting an incredible atmosphere that often times makes the waking world and the dreaming world bleed together. Craven masterfully crafts extremely unsettling, surreal sequences using practical movie magic that works so well I found myself in actual shock and terror, something movie posters always promise and is rarely delivered.
I’ve always thought it somewhat unfortunate that I didn’t discover a love for horror until my adulthood. A lot of these movies seem like they would be most effective in my teenage years. But this is certainly the biggest disappointment of the bunch, as I think it would have simultaneously broken my brain and given me an instant appreciation for the unique things this genre is capable of.
Also, Johnny Depp in a belly shirt might have tipped my sexuality in a whole other direction.
A Nightmare on Elm Street scored: ★★★★ (out of 5)