Directed by: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Runtime: 91 Minutes
Classic, influential and spine tingling: this is one of the horror films that define 80s horror. Wes Craven the somewhat ‘master of horror’ is known for many of his films and this is among the most known. The chilling tale of Freddy Kruger starts here, were Kruger’s hand-knives came a symbol to the film. Although the film has few big thrills, it is chilling, tense, and mysterious.
The film is set on the titular street where we meet Nancy Thompson (Heather Langenkamp) is having trouble sleep with her deadly nightmares that withhold Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund). Kruger is an old child killer who was killed by angry parents and is back in the dreams of his killers' children, claiming their lives as his revenge. The teenaged leads are sympathetic and intelligent, unlike the dumb victims presented in most films of the period, and veterans like John Saxon and Ronee Blakley ably back them up.
Craven’s intelligent and mysterious horror is a classic that unfortunately went on to spawn too many sequels for its own good. Perhaps there is a few good one’s on the way, but over 6 is quite a lot. It is something many horror franchises have a habit of doing. “Puppet Master”, “Friday the 13th” and the list could go on.
What makes Elm Street so unique is how it uses a newbie young cast, but successfully makes it a good one. Here we get to see a young Johnny Depp for the first time, who looks unbelievably young looking. Every time he was on screen, it was fascinating, especially after reading a biography on him. Surrounding him is first timer Heather Langenkamp and newish actress, Amanda Wyss. These three were the highlight of the film and Langenkamp was just great. In addition, we cannot forget about Kruger himself. Robert Englund pulled off the demented and wicked Kruger.
The ultimate achievement this film has is its spine-tingling presence. This is a horror film that scares you from not using thrills, but by using tension, it has. Do not expect extreme gore (but some scenes with a rather large amount of blood), because we mostly have suspenseful and mysterious moments that have you en edge. Elm Street creates a haunting atmosphere, especially with that spectacular music from Charles Bernstein, who made the theme that would later become recognised in the world of cinema. The music is what gives emphasis on the visuals and is what gives this film such a presence, as many horror films do.
Craven’s invention and creation of Kruger highlights this film. Kruger has become an icon of horror, along with the little creepy song that goes, “one, two, Freddy’s coming for you”. What adds to the Kruger character is the concept of the dream realm. It takes the idea of Nightmares and makes them become lethal to reality. This is what makes the film so imaginative and original. A splendid horror concept that would soon become recognised by fans and critics.
Even after all these years Elm Street manages to give a few frightful chills and may very well stay that way. Elm Street has had a big influence on horror with the invention of Kruger and how the film was made. I give it 9/10 because there is not much wrong with it and has been a big influence on horror. It is beautifully crafted and wonderfully haunting. Elm Street is definitive to the genre and is of the most original and imaginative horror films there is.