A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

In comparison to the previous installments, "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" is probably the indicator of the distinct change the sequels will have: loose Horror, more comedic and strange. But this is also one of the franchises shining stars; a film that manages to be both a deeply effecting and layered with so much different ideas about mental illness and the struggles in overcoming them and a film just so completely bonkers and insane - anything happens in this film and it's just so glorious to witness - that it's hard for me not to think of it as not only one of the best Horror sequels of all time, but perhaps one of the greatest Horror films in general.

I remember seeing this when I was younger (along with "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge") and being totally captivated by this film: it's a playhouse of pure imagination, equipped with some of the most stylish and metaphorical kills any Slasher, let alone a Horror film, had ever seen. Colorful, believable characters move throughout the frame, displaying their innocence with this sense of raw believably to their inner selves, but they're also characters that feel so out of place, that it's hard not being captivated by them: a mute, a guy who makes puppets, a strong smartass, a badass chick, a wheelchair bound D&D player, a sympathetic doctor, and Nancy, who's rocking the grey streak. More on the kids later...

Screenwriter Craven and director Russell are clearly having a boatload of fun with the possibilities of Freddy and his world; "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" is without a doubt, the most creative of the series. It's a labyrinth of mazes atop each other, taking us to different worlds and exploring different moments of lore: the Amanda Krueger storyline never fails to terrify me (as does the character) and Freddy's funhouse of torture is both textually unnerving and atmospherically unsettling. And the kills, which feel so more meaningful than "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge," are both devastating and well-thought: Freddy puppeteers a kid to his death (still one of my favorite moments in a Horror film, by the way!) and tosses another into a television screen. It's probably the most loosest Freddy film, but in doing so, is the most free and oddly rhythmic.

So, about the kids. Yes, it's all glamorous and awesome seeing each and every kid and get that little glimpse into their different worlds, but it's also telling of the situation at hand: these kids are at a psychiatric hospital because they can't sleep in fear of Freddy. And some of them (most of them) meet their end at Freddy's clawed hand; Freddy is the manifestation of their internal battle with their past (some are drug addicts, some are impaired, some are lonely) and that fear of either never beating that demon or never coming to terms with that change (something both films previously explored) is some sort of reality for some people; as much as we want to be open and honest about our mental health in public, people reject or find people's seriousness about their state of being unnatural. So they ship them off, leave them in their suffering, or ignore them.

The film's message is both a happy one and a sad one. At once, it shows that people can beat their demons that linger within them. Overcoming your depression is something so empowering, you feel like you're able to conquer anything. But on the twist side, it's also a film about those who've lost their battle, who've felt that fighting wasn't worth it anymore. It's an unfortunate reminder that although we're alive today, we've lost brothers and sisters, probably rejected by their worlds, who thought that this was the only way. As someone who's attempted suicide two separate times, I find that this message is a reminder of who I am and how strong I am, but also a reminder that I was lucky: some can't say they've overpowered.

As someone who daily struggles with Depression, this film gives me the power to beat that demon. And one day, maybe I will, maybe we all will. At once one of the most realistic and scary Horror films and one of the most sympathetic and loving; a full fledged crazed masterwork.

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