OBJECTIVE: Watch a popular or critically acclaimed film we’ve never seen to the halfway point. Pause it. Work together to predict the ending.
A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
THE LAST THING WE SAW: We paused at 00:45:30, directly after Freddy Krueger makes it appear as though Rod has hanged himself in the jail cell.
And now… discuss!
Phil: Wow! For a guy who really doesn’t do horror, I am digging this movie!
Ben: I really don’t dig horror either, but I am liking the pace of the movie, and the effects are really gripping me!
Phil: Yeah, these practical effects are really fun to watch!
Ben: Totally. It must have been a lot of fun designing those marshmallow stairs!
Phil: So in terms of predictions, are there any more people who are going to die?
Ben: I’d like to think that this is the couple that makes it. I don’t know if Glenn is the guy to root for—he’s not really an inspiring dude. He’s just kind of there.
Ben: He screwed up the sleeping/guarding thing, he screws up coming in the house quietly (he yelps and complains about roses)—he can’t even get a phony call to his mom right!
Phil: I think you’re right that these two are the ones who will succeed for most of the movie. Nancy is going to survive.
Ben: Yeah, Nancy’s definitely going to live. With Glenn I’m more on the fence—I wouldn’t be surprised if he ate it; in the horror movie world, you’re like, “That guy’s gone.”
Phil: I’m with you: he’s toast.
Ben: This was the time before when horror movies were intentionally trying to subvert expectations and the genre was self-aware of its tropes.
Phil: Here’s something weird: when Glenn is asleep, he’s actually asleep—he’s not part of these nightmares or able to interact with them.
Ben: I’m not sure he was necessarily dreaming: it seems like the moment every other character falls asleep, he or she is dreaming.
Phil: Oh, that’s true!
Ben: But I don’t know if he was dreaming, because wouldn’t that mean they were having the same dream?
Phil: Yeah! Remember, he said that he “slept like a rock.” So you’re right: maybe when he sleeps, he actually sleeps, and when anyone else sleeps, they interact with Freddy Krueger.
Ben: Yeah, and Glenn was sitting there in her dream, but I think that was just her dream.
Ben: And I think Glenn is immune.
Phil: Well, next she’s going to start doing some tests.
Ben: Yes. She’s doing the science right now.
Phil: But Glenn’ll be more on the qui vive, a little more vigilant.
Ben: Yeah, he doesn’t want to let her down.
Phil: You know, she needs to set up a whole bunch of buckets, so that when she flails in her nightmare she pours cold water on her head.
Ben: That would be very smart, and insanely cheap, but I don’t think she’ll have thought of that, because, you know, horror movie teenager.
Phil: So anyway, she’s going to go off and do these experiments.
Ben: You’re right, and she’s going to find a way that she can wake up, and she’s going to trust Glenn with it.
Phil: Yeah, and he’s going to do a good job with it, in part because he seems to be immune to Freddy’s invasion of dreams. In fact, here’s a question: why is it that only these three are infected by Freddy Krueger?
Ben: Why is there a nursery rhyme about a guy named Freddy?
Ben: That they skip rope to?
Phil: That’s a good second question. Um…
Ben: Sorry, what was your first one?
Phil: Why is that that only Tina, Rod, and Nancy are the ones with their dreams infested with this zany manicure fiasco?
Ben: Going in the whole Friday the 13th vein, maybe the three of them were partying in that little shack where that guy lived, and they accidentally killed him.
Phil: Could be.
Ben: I mean, it’s a horror movie from the ’80s.
Phil: And now he’s just seeking revenge?
Ben: Yeah. Found some power in the underworld.
Phil: Yeah, entirely possible. Anyway, I feel that this question has to do with it, because why aren’t the parents affected, why isn’t Glenn effected? Who knows: maybe it is Glenn! (I’m kidding.)
Ben: Hey, it’s possible in a movie like this. It could be, like, a relative of Glenn, or Glenn’s subconscious, or something.
Phil: Yeah, because he wasn’t even dreaming at all!
Phil: So maybe it is his subconscious! What if it is his subconscious infecting these three people?
Ben: Although, was he sleeping when Tina was killed? He wasn’t when they were having sex, but was he during her murder scene?
Phil: He was clearly being kept awake during the first scene, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t fall asleep after that. Yeah, if it is his subconscious, that would be a neat twist!
Ben: Yeah! Everybody’s asleep, his subconscious is trying… to kill… his girlfriend? And her friends? Because, wait, why though?
Phil: Because he’s jealous of how much cooler they are?
Ben: Um, yeah, that’s it, Phil.
Phil: He’s on the chess team, and—
Ben: None of these people are cool! “Hey, modern 16-year-old girl! What do you want to wear to school?” “Pleated khakis!”
Phil: It was the ’80s, man. You know, Annie Hall had just come out, like, a decade prior.
Ben: Yep, and Woody Allen, the king of cool, was obviously influencing all the teenagers.
Phil: Fair point. Next step: she’s going to go back to sleep to find Freddy Krueger.
Ben: Right. She’s going to try another experiment.
Phil: Good, so we both agree on that. Next?
Ben: The police will put out a statement about Rob’s death implying that he committed suicide out of guilt for the murder.
Phil: I agree.
Ben: After that, Nancy’s dad will harp on her even more and trust her even less, and this will stress her out more.
Phil: Her parents will encourage her to sleep, but she can’t do this unless someone’s watching.
Ben: The mom’s going to keep making her warm milk, and her dad’s going to keep on her.
Phil: She’s going to use those Sta Awake pills. It’s like Chekhov’s pills right now.
Phil: And then, do you think her parents will send her to a psychologist or psychotherapist? “Look, Nancy, your dreams are really weird!”
Ben: Very likely.
Phil: Oh! And what if the therapist gets her to sleep in the session, like through hypnosis—
Ben: And then, in her dream, the therapist becomes Freddy Krueger and tries to kill her—
Phil: And then, in real life, the therapist will actually see all the dream’s manifestations.
Phil: But the therapist will wake her up before she starts freaking out too badly, and will assume it was only a really violent nightmare. He is not going to think that she’s got this Freddy Krueger running around in her dreams.
Ben: He’ll assume it was a psychotic episode or a night terror or something. (That would have been a good title for this movie, too: Night Terrors!)
Phil: It’s at this point she’ll have Glenn come back.
Ben: And try the bucket of water thing or something.
Phil: And that’s when it will turn out it’s Glenn’s subconscious? That would certainly make a good flick!
Ben: That would be amazing!
Phil: And then… what, she kills Glenn?
Ben: She and Glenn get into a fight, but I feel that the Freddy aspect of all this actually does have legit supernatural powers, so he might be able to come back. You know, for the many sequels.
Phil: So wait, does she actually kill Glenn? I mean, if it is his subconscious, does she kill him or does she just wake Glenn up and then get rid of Freddy Krueger from him?
Ben: She’s probably got to kill Glenn to have any source of power over the situation. Because, otherwise, what is the ending of the movie?
Phil: So she does kill Glenn, and then it turns out that Freddy Krueger was actually simply infesting poor Glenn to begin with. So Freddy Krueger is still around.
Ben: Yeah, it could totally be that.
Phil: And then the movie ends with Freddy, say, peering around a corner laughing, and it goes black.
Ben: Yeah: Nancy is finally getting a restful sleep, and then he emerges from behind the cross or something—and then, fade to sequel!
AND NOW, WE FINISH THE MOVIE: