A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

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

Welcome to prime time, bitch!

I think in general, my history with this series is having seen a good amount of it as a kid, but I just didn't give it its fair shake until now because scary movies just weren't my thing for a long time. I know I had technically seen both this and the original film before starting my account on Letterboxd, but left them marked as unseen because of my aforementioned bias. Anyway, here I am now with Dream Warriors finally. I think this one's decent. I really enjoy both the first and second Elm Street films, honestly placing the second just a smidgen over the first, and I do think this one is a notable step down, but still totally has its moments. I can say with certainty that my favorite aspect of this one is Freddy, Englund being a scary delight whenever he's onscreen. In conjunction with him, the special effects here are frequently super cool, each bit of exaggerated gore or outright kill landing on a nice sweet spot. (The television kill has to be my favorite, but I also really like the one kid being puppeted around by his own innards.) I'm not wholly sure if it's tone or structure that's giving me more reserved feelings for this film, but there is something definitely missing or off here for me that keeps it at a distance from the two that came before it. A part of me wonders if it has to do with the more ensemble cast, where I think the concept of multiple young teens and adults who had been haunted by Freddy being able to fight back in their dreams is a fantastic idea, but in execution, I liked it more when you had a direct central protagonist to focus on. Nancy or Kristen could be the default protagonist here, and both of them are fine characters, yet I don't think either are really given enough here to have the necessary weight as a leader for the narrative. I think I can see from here the path that's taken with the future of the series, where I know that Freddy becomes more of the central interest for future installments, to the detriment of some from what I've heard. Double-edged sword, or knife glove. (I'll say as an aside that Kincaid rules, if someone "should" have been the primary character based on who's here, I would have wanted him in that spot.) I think while the last two films hooked me as much with their narratives and wider concepts of retribution or sexuality, Dream Warriors mostly hooks me exclusively through its effects and Krueger as a screen presence. Not a bad thing by any means, because both of those things are again super solid, but it may relegate this movie to being more something I revisit in sections from YouTube rather than wanting to put on the full thing again.


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