Top critical review
Not as good as everyone seems to say.
on November 3, 2002
The Nightmare on Elm Street, the film that introduced the pop icon Freddy Krueger, promises a frightening premise. What if a monster could only get you during your most vulnerable daily ritual of sleep? Unfortunately, like many slasher films of its time, it doesn't follow through.
Settling into this film, I was expecting something uniquely terrifying. After all, I've been seeing Nightmare on Elm Street placed on top ten lists of scary movies lately. What I got was a slasher film only slightly better then most. It still has the clichéd characters, poor dialogue and illogical plot that plagues the Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers stories in the movie world. But I suppose no one goes to see these films for their quality.
I was particularly annoyed by the parents in the film. During a string of teenager deaths, parents all seemed unsympathetic towards the surviving kids trying to emotionally recover. When one girl has two friends die in a period of a couple days, her boyfriend's parents think she is unreasonably upset and hang-up on her calls. Her mother is a drunk who locks her in the house, and her father uses her to try to catch the murderer. As if that isn't ludicrous enough, a police officer, hearing screams of terror next door, takes two minutes to decide that perhaps he should tell the chief something might possibly be wrong. There isn't one adult in this movie that is intelligent or considerate enough to stop and realize that the survivors might be hurting from their loss. Again, I know this film isn't meant to be realistic, but I'd appreciate some adults who at least had an inkling of believability.
But perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the movie was that Freddy didn't have as much screen time as he should have had. We see more adults criticizing their kids for grieving then we do the killer himself. He is rarely to be seen, popping up here and there in a few dreams. Even the ending was light on Freddy.
I guess I just was expecting something a little better then the standard slasher film here, and in a few ways, it was. For example, the film has an intriguing idea, a few frightening moments and Johnny Depp in his debut. But it just wasn't enough to overcome the usual pitfalls that infest this film to raise it much higher above the usual [stuff]. This can be a fun watch on the guilty pleasure level if you don't expect anything, but is otherwise dismissible. It's just too bad the great idea of dream-invading monster isn't done better, because the thought is terrifying. It's too bad the movie wasn't.