On Friday the 13th I found myself watching a Freddy Friday marathon… This is by far my favorite series of slasher films and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out why. Maybe because I frequently had nightmares as a child, and go through periods where I have them for weeks at a time or maybe simply because Freddy brought personality to an era of silent slashers. Now that I’m a little older I realize Wes Craven sheds light on the darker sides of society, the side that really scares people because it’s true, real, and gritty. Let’s face it, Freddy is in fact a child molestor and killer. The town parents take upon themselves to punish him and silence the dark nasty secret of elm street. He seeks his revenge in the dreams of children who long suppressed These horrible memories. Children that he essentially groomed, gross right? This is actually inspired by the mcmartin case in the 1980’s where dozens of children were coerced into saying they had been molested and tortured.
But the movie in this series that stood out the most was number 3, the Dream warriors which took place in a mental institution. It was a failing one, let’s start with that. It’s obviously understaffed for one, we see very few on duty as teenagers die one by one in very gruesome obvious deaths. One patient sleep walks past a nurse and plummets to his death from a tower window. The mental health facility was in fact inspired by facilities meant to fix your troubled teens in the 1980’s. They were essentially prisons and asylums.
This is where I also noticed Freddy’s trend for preying on disadvantaged youth. Another real world problem. Every movie he escalates and adjust. Choosing victims that would be ignored, such as this film where they assume these kids are just crazy. He progresses to kids that come from truly problematic homes and preys on their most intimate nightmares. He does what real predators do preys on those with little to no support system, this particular film features an addict, a mute, and a wheelchair bound boy.
But their nightmares don’t stop when they’re sleeping, the nightmares are simply a reflection of real life. Freddy is adamant about holding this against them. Taryn the resident recovering addict receives sexual advances from a hospital employee, who offers her a trip to the pharmacy in exchange for her services. After turning him down and threatening to expose him, he tells her no one would believe her anyway. Freddy exploits this in her nightmare and kills her with an extremely sexual overdose.
Freddy doesn’t just haunt you in your dreams, he preys on your real life terrors and insecurities. They made Freddy the true predator, targeting and preying on the disadvantaged youth and knowing that no one would believe them. This is the true nightmare, Freddy is real and roaming the streets. He’s present anywhere children can be taken advantage of.
That, is the true terror.