A Nightmare on the Elm Street
|🎞️ Film Analysis, Identity, 🗽 American Culture, 📽️ Film Review
Table of Contents
‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ is one of the most famous horror stories of the early 90s.The movie was first produced in 1984 by Wes Craven; the film revolves around the lives of teenagers who are haunted by a particular man in their dreams. The film was remade in 2010 by Wesley Strick and Eric Heissenger who wrote it under the same name as that of the 1984 version. In Wesley’s version, the movie revolves around teenagers who see a man who haunts them in their dreams. As time goes by, the reality happens when the teens who see the man haunting them in their dreams are killed. Several people try to relate the reality with the dreams in real life and at last, it turns out that there is a possibility of some people among the relatives of the victims, who possess the spirits that haunt the teenagers.
The film opens with a rather shocking and horrifying scene of a girl named Tina dreaming. Hands of unidentified person are seen with horrendous gloves trying to make a weapon which remains dominant throughout the movie. The individual uses a leather glove with blades attached to the finger tips as the weapon. In her dreams, Tina is haunted by the man as she tries to rush through paths which are filled by shadows of unknown people. Suddenly, she is intercepted by the unidentified man who brandishes his fatal glove on her face, making her scream loud which catches the attention of her mother who comes to her room to check what is happening. Shockingly, the dreams seem to be a reality when she notices that her daughter had some cuts which resembled those of the armed gloves she had seen in the dream.
In the morning, the girl goes to school as usual. She meets her classmates Nancy, Rod, and Glen who happen to have experienced the same dream of the haunting man as Tina. Although Nancy and Tina have already revealed to each other about the nightmare, Rod and Glen try to hide the happenings in their nightmare. That day, Tina’s mother travels out of town, and Nancy and Glen decide that they spend the night at Tina’s home as she was afraid. Later, Glen shows up in a frightening manner when he makes a joke by impersonating as a ghost. After they catch up, they go upstairs with Tina to have a good time, leaving Glen and Nancy downstairs sleeping.
However, strange things start happening at night when the four teens are asleep. Strange things start happening when Nancy notices that the wall above where she is sleeping deforms and a strange face appears on it. When she opens her eyes, the face suddenly disappears. On the other side, Tina gets frightened when she wakes up to the strange noises from the backyard. It seems as though there is someone from the garden trying to throw pebbles at the window of her bedroom. Furiously, she decides to walk out and confront whoever was doing it. However, when she gets to the backyard, strange voices attract her to the alley where she finally hears the voice of the man she had seen in her nightmare the previous night. Suddenly, the man appears, and she is frightened. She starts returning to the house through the back door but unfortunately, the man gets hold of her. The man is so strange to Tina because, during that incidence, he cuts one of his fingers and weird colored blood sprouts. The incidence makes her wake up, and she finds four cuts on her stomach. Suddenly, an unknown force pulls her up the ceiling and releases her back to her bed which is full of blood. All these noises make Glen and Nancy get to Tina’s bedroom, only to find her dead, with Rod missing.
The incidences of the previous night prompt Nancy to answer questions at the police station where her father, who divorced her mother, is the lieutenant. The case may fall on Rod as the one responsible for Tina’s death due to his previous cases of delinquency, but Nancy feels that that is not the case. Things turn out to be sore for the boy when Nancy’s father appears as Rod talks to Nancy assuring her that he is not responsible for Tina’s death. He arrests him, making Nancy feel bad.
That day starts in rather a bad way and also ends in an abrupt manner when she falls asleep during her English class and sees Tina talking to her. Suddenly, she is dragged by a hand with a glove, and she is attracted by that. She follows the blood trail and goes to the basement where the haunting man suddenly appears and smashes upon a wall near boilers. She is burnt by a hot pipe which makes her scream loud and wakes up to find herself in class, with a big wound on the arm that was burned by the pipe in her dreams. She later leaves the school and visits his friend Rod in a cell where he’s locked in. They discuss the issue at hand and Nancy expresses her concern about what was happening.
The worst occurs when the haunting man confronts her in the bathtub where she has fallen asleep. The man drags to an abyss which seems to exist beneath the tub, but she manages to swim back to the tub screaming. Her screams prompt one of her friends to rush to the bathroom to save her, but she pretends that she was safe. That night, she is so much afraid to sleep due to the haunting dreams. However, she finally sleeps and her greatest fear catch up with her. She sees herself peeping through the window of Rods cell where she sees the killer man approaching Rod. She tries to call her boyfriend Glen, and he responds, prompting her to run to run towards back to the house. The killer chases her, and the worst happens when she reaches to the stairs of their house, and the stairs to the main door have turned to be sticky, trapping her such that she is not able to get in. This time, the killer tries to mask in the face of Tina and pretends to ask for help from Nancy. Nancy is so frightened and wakes up to find her boyfriend Glen asleep.
That day turns out to be an attempt to twist events as the haunting power visits Rod in jail and hangs him using the bed sheets. Despite all this happening, the Lieutenant still feels that Rod hung himself to evade the punishment. However, his daughter assures him that it’s strange dreams which are haunting them. However, to be sure of what was happening, they take Nancy to a sleeping clinic where they examine her. Suddenly, her haunting dreams start to haunt her, and she is moved. They wake her up and are amazed to find that she is holding the glove belonging to the haunting man. She says that she was holding it when they woke her up.
Despite all that is happening, Nancy’s mother does not want to agree that something strange is going on in the life of her daughter. She proposes that she should get a good sleep to do away with the weird dreams. However, Nancy is profoundly dismayed by her mother’s way of thinking and produces the glove with the name of Fred Krueger, who turns out to have been a murderer who used to kill teenagers, according to Nancy’s mother. She confesses that he was arrested and released later and Nancy’s mom lynched him together with other neighbors. Additionally, the mother unwraps a glove identical to the one Nancy sees in her dreams, confessing that she took it the night they killed him. This plays as a revelation to Nancy that the man she sawseeing in the dreams was the spirit of Krueger trying to make revenge to the children of his killers. After a few days, Glen is confronted and killed by the man in his bed. All of Nancy’s friends have been taken by Krueger, and she is left alone. She decides to confront him in her next dream and asks her father to be present to arrest Fred when he appears in her dreams.
That night, she goes downstairs of the house until she reaches to boiler room Fred had taken her on the day Rod was arrested. However, her dream instantly changes, and she sees herself struggling with the man. The traps she had set before sleeping earlier that night help her capture him and bring out of the dream. However, the officer, her father, had deployed to her ex-wife’s house was not of help as he did not understand what was happening despite Nancy calling for help. At last, Freddy sets Nancy on fire and gets back to her mother to strangle her. Nancy’s father notices strange footprints which lead them to the wife’s bedroom where they find Freddy strangling Marge. Taking the bedclothes, they find Nancy’s mother body which disappears into the bed. This shocks Lieutenant Thompson, and he leaves.
However, when Nancy is left alone, Freddy appears to her again, but this time, she is fearless and manages to render him powerless by cursing him. This makes him helpless, and he disappears into the air.
The movie ends with a rather bizarre scene when the four friends reunite in a convertible car to go to school, and Nancy’s mother sees them off. However, Freddy manifests himself for the very last time when he smashes the roof of the car on the four friends, and the car drives off. When Marge waves for the last time, Freddy’s glove appears in the window of the car and in a superstitious way, catches and places her into the car through the window before the car speeds off.
Thematic Issues Arising from the movie
From looking at ‘A Nightmare on the Elm Street,’ it is evident that the writer of the film sought to display some various themes which are dominant throughout the movie. The horrific scenes carry with them hidden messages for the viewers who can learn some things by interpreting the happenings.
One of the main themes displayed throughout the movie is the theme of revenge. Freddy is all over revenge on those who set him on fire and on Nancy’s mother who stole away his charred knife gloves. The theme of childhood innocence is also present in the movie. Children are heard playing a skipping rope game singing a chorus about Krueger coming for the skipper.
As the center of the assignment, this paper seeks to touch on the dominant styles used in the movie. According to the whole movie, two dominant forms were used from the beginning to the end. From a close look at the movie closely, it is not hard to realize that realism and transnationalism have been widely employed to make up the best of ‘A Nightmare on the Elm Street.’ Therefore, it is undeniable that the movie is entirely in relation with realism and transnationalism.
The movie and Realism
Realism remains one of the dominant aspects throughout the entire film. Although realism is quite a broad term depending on the context, several scholars have tried to define what it is in the context of arts and literature. According to Brown (224), realism is the style of representing the event and things as they are. According to Putnam (177), when realists argue on their position, they place their argument on a particular type of idealism
To make the audience sink into the story line, every horror movie needs a high sense of realism and ‘A Nightmare on the Elm Street’ has addressed this aspect with a strong sense of carefulness and creativity. From the start of the movie to the end, realism remains prevalent through the choice of characters, the flow of events and relation of events to real life situations.
The movie ‘A nightmare on the Elm Street’ has shown its clear relation to the realism through its selection of characters. In most cases, the film features teenagers who are struggling to deal with the haunting dreams of Freddy Krueger who wants to kill them in revenge for what their parents did to him. We cannot take for granted, the reason why the writer chose teenagers as characters in the dream. Rather, it is important to note that the choice of the characters was to for the reason of focusing on the young generation that was in the process of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, a period that is marked by high levels of naivety. After looking at the time setting of the movie, it is easy to realize that the teenagers of that period had a lot of social uncertainties about life. Things like sex were hardly taught, and the movie has addressed them for the teens to learn from the characters and apply that knowledge in real life. Therefore, watching the video plays a part of marking their turning point in social issues in their lives.
Behavior of Characters and action
The action is significant when it comes to representing the reality in films (Nicholls,3) In most cases; the characters have to remain real no matter what, to bring the best in that movie. One of the characters who has clearly represented realism in action is Nancy. Nancy is depicted as a daughter of a lieutenant who divorced with his mother, Marge. In most cases, such children have faced unpleasant situations being raised by a single parent, and have tried to make things happen despite everything. To represent this reality, the writer of the movie depicts Nancy as a heroine who undergoes several unpleasant occasions with the nightmares of Freddy. However, despite seeing her classmates and friends die under the nightmares, Nancy does not give up. She tries to make the best of the unpleasant situations by turning the to a pleasant situation when she figures out how she could deal with Freddy and brings him out of the dreams for a second arrest.
This is a representation of the real life situation where the children or individuals who have been brought up in challenging environments learn how to solve things which are likely to take away their happiness
Finding inner villain
The movie becomes strong when the actors try to find their villains. In one of the interviews, the writer says that directing the movie involved allowing the characters to identify places where they felt they’d be most terrified and this involved choosing the scenes. Finding the inner villains to put it into the screenplay was one way of the movie relating to realism.
The movie and Transnationalism
Transnationalism has gained several explanations from different scholars. According to Vertovec (573), transnationalism and identity are in one way or the other, related to each other because transnational networks in people involve sharing a common perception of a given idea. In this case, identities of different individuals are negotiated from various points of the world which are distinct from each other and brought together to bring out a common idea.
Transnationalism has been outlined in the movie ‘A nightmare on the Elm Street.’ The film remains related to transnationalism throughout its storyline. The writer’s choice of horror was based on the American society but still bore the ability to penetrate through boundaries outside the United States. The story carries different transnational aspects such as the aspect of different cultures in different societies. This is a characteristic of horror being aware of the locals while bearing the ability to permeate the national boundaries (Och, 5).
How the film addresses cultural and Theoretical Issues at stake
A close look at ‘A nightmare on the Elm Street shows that the movie has foregrounded, complicated on and commented on some cultural and theoretical issues at stake. At first, it is worth identifying what cultural issues the film rotates around.
Two of the most dominant themes in the movie is the issue of sexuality. In most cases, the society seems to have ignored these issues. However, the film has worked to bring out the two items. First, the writer explicitly foregrounds the issue of sexuality by creating sets of characters who seem to have romantic relationships. Being teenagers who engage in sexual intimacy, the characters represent this cultural issue which appears to leave a big gap in the mind of the children as the society seems to shut its mouth over it.
Freddy is also seen as a sexual abuser who molests children. The movie comments on the issue of sexuality at the point when sexual molesters face the angry society which burns him. This is an indication that although the community may have remained silent on the issue, it strongly condemns sexual molestation to minors.
However, the movie complicates the issue when it presents Freddy as a hero of the film as he revenges on those who killed him for molesting children. This makes the situation appear as though he was justified to molest the children.
Theoretical issue is a term that has been widely used to define what we think society is like & if we can obtain an accurate and truthful picture of it. Through the movie, the writer foregrounds, comments on and complicates these issues in different ways.
The film foregrounds theoretical issues through the naivety of the teenagers who start experiencing wild dreams of Freddy haunting them. However, they are not sure if that could be true as they don’t believe the society has such things. Even after experiencing the haunting dreams on the first day, Tina still attempts to trace the source of the noise and the person who is throwing stone pebbles on her window.
The movie also comments on the issue of the presence of demonic spirits when Nancy reveals to her father that Rod was killed by the haunting spirits. Although the father does not believe that to be true, he finally agrees to it when they take her to a sleeping clinic, and the spirit of Freddy manifests itself. The movie depicts the real picture of the society when Nancy’s mother finally narrates to her about what happened a few years ago when they set Freddy on fire.
Ther movie complicates the issue when it presents the evil spirit as lurking between the weak and vigorous compared to the living spirit. The audience is left on in a twist of whether the society can control the dead spirits lurking or not.
- Brown, Marshall. “The Logic of Realism: A Hegelian Approach.” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (1981): 224-241.
- Nichols, Bill. Representing reality: Issues and concepts in documentary. Vol. 681. Indiana University Press, 1991.
- Och, Dana, and Kirsten Strayer, eds. Transnational Horror Across Visual Media: Fragmented Bodies. Routledge, 2013.
- Putnam, Hilary. “What Is” Realism”?.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Vol. 76. Aristotelian Society, Wiley, 1975.
- Vertovec, Steven. “Transnationalism and identity.” Journal of Ethnic and Migration studies 27.4 (2001): 573-582.