Unlike the Halloween or Friday the 13th franchises, I’ve never seen most of the films from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise until now. Growing up, I saw a lot of Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers, but aside from the first film and the remake, I never saw Freddy Krueger. Not seeing any of the films or parts of them as I’m channel surfing has made watching this franchise today a lot of fun. I don’t know what to expect with any of Freddy’s films and watching his adventures unfold has been a real treat. I loved the first film and I didn’t think the second was too bad either. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is a fantastic film with a compelling plot, an interesting set of characters and an ever-evolving villain who keeps the audience on its toes.
Released two years after the second film, this installment centers around Kristen, a young girl who’s having nightmares featuring Freddy. When things get bad, her mother tosses her into a psych ward with a special floor of high schoolers who all have trouble sleeping. The protagonist from the first film, Nancy, is back as a grad student interning on the floor. Immediately recognizing the kids’ sleeping disorder as the work of Freddy Krueger, Nancy and a fellow doctor, Neal, attempt to rid the world of Freddy once and for all. This film takes the successful formula of its previous entries - a group of young kids haunted by Freddy - and moves it to a psych ward. This move increases the stakes exponentially. For starters, psych wards are creepy and for another, all of these kids are incredibly desperate to fix their problem. The plot is compelling from start to finish, and I loved following the story.
While not all of the characters rocked my world, it was an interesting cast overall. With the diversity typical of campy horror films, this movie assembles a goth girl, one African-American, a nerd, a future movie star and others. One of my favorite parts of this movie was that it utilized the concept that when people are dreaming, not everything is realistic and they sometimes have special powers in their dreams. I mean, who didn’t dream of being a wizard after Harry Potter? The kids in this movie are encouraged by Nancy to use a special power in the dream, to help defeat Freddy. Kristen, for instance, possesses the ability to pull other people into her dreams, which comes in handy. Adding this to the plot expanded the idea of dreaming and the potential of dreams. It made the film more interesting for me. After all, if Freddy can do anything in a dream, so can the dreamer.
This film continues to evolve its villain. For the first time, Freddy speaks often and openly. While I’m unsure about this trait, it did evolve the character and allow the audience to hate him even more. I’m just used to silent serial killers. Freddy is part of a nightmare, which gives him unlimited powers. In this movie, Freddy continued to toy with the audience’s and characters’ perception of reality. Is what you’re seeing on the screen real or part of a dream? While other franchises bend the rules (often to the point of disbelief), this one does it and it’s totally justified. There are no rules in a dream, which is why nightmares are so frightening. The person experiencing them has no idea what’s coming next because anything can happen. Freddy is a symbol of this and that is why he’s so terrifying.
I loved the third installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. It was fun, exciting and gruesome. The death sequences were refreshing and original, and even though the villain was the same, he came back better than ever. Freddy can do anything and get away with it, a skill other inhabitants of horror island would be wise to remember.
If you liked A Nightmare on Elm Street 3, you might also like A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 and A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010).