A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors ★★★★½

Everyone's favourite entry and a close 2nd for me, this sequel nails the excessive heights of the franchise while plummeting our cursed teens into menacing doom. Strap your soul to a gurney and prepare for a restless Hell.

Patricia Arquette sets this one on fire as Kristen, one of the many angsty teens at a psychiatric hospital eternally running away from Freddy. Hospital-set horror is a charming sub-genre, and here the majestic supernatural slasher franchise can spread out ambitiously while always staying firmly rooted in that clinical and claustrophobic world.
This is where Freddy's kills begin their stride towards sketch-comedy-torture-porn, an element that draws me into the mean-spirited cartoon culture of Elm Street. Turning veins into puppet strings, plunging needles into blinking track marks, casting off the lightning bolts of a Wizard before stabbing his torso. These wild FX showcases alternate between zany and disturbing, a tonality crash course where Freddy's one liners steer a hard left through decapitated flesh.

No matter how wacky this one goes, it is always tethered to a sinister tone and an emotional core. If it dives too far into psychotic camp, it will always snap back to a vision of these teens relating to each other, trying to navigate their own turbulent emotions while deciphering the oppressive lore of Freddy Krueger. That moment with Kristen crying at the end of the film, holding a fresh corpse in her arms, is quite possibly the heaviest point of the entire series. The first time that death feels uncomfortably real.

I will always prefer 4 for its unrelenting bombast and joy, but I wouldn't try to convince anyone that it should be their favourite as well. I'm of the opinion that this is the best horror franchise of all time and with each entry flexing its own character and conviction, they all are worthy of being number one.

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