I admit that out of the three major franchises (Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street), Nightmare is the franchise I revisit the least. But I would argue that the original Nightmare on Elm Street is just as strong, if not slightly stronger, than Halloween in terms of technical merits and storyline. This is a film that is so ingenious, so eerie, and so superbly done that it has become a staple of the horror genre and a film that no one can ignore.
Wes Craven made a masterpiece when he wrote and directed the original Nightmare on Elm Street. This is a film that addresses a primordial fear that all of us experience, of images which involuntarily occur during sleep. Freddy is the embodiment of these fears; a burnt, demon-like entity who attacks people in their dreams, where they are their most vulnerable.
Setting the film in the dreamworld could have enabled Craven to throw out any sense of reality and plausibility in exchange for excessive imagery, which could have been explained away as a result of the illusory setting. Yet Craven is really restrained in this movie, even with its ethereal tone and style. Nothing that occurs feels or looks out of place. Every scene, every encounter with Freddy, feels entirely believable.
This is the only "slasher" film that scares me. There's something so unsettling about the images that Craven uses. Freddy is very often kept in the shadows so we never get a really clear look at him. He relies more on sounds to induce fear, and it works extremely effectively.
I know I'll piss everyone off for saying it, but I find Heather Langenkamp's performance to be a bit exaggerated at times. In fairness, she is a young actress with not a lot of experience, but the scene where she's speaking to her parents at the police station always feels really forced and unconvincing. With that said, I thought the characters were sensational and very realistic and the cast overall gave some excellent performances.
The villain, the score, the lighting, the premise... everything about this movie is incredible. Out of the original Nightmare, Friday the 13th, and Halloween, which film is your favorite and why?