Films Analysis Essay on Final Girls in Friday the 13th and Nightmare on the Elm Street

Published: 2021-07-01 23:04:35
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Middlebury College
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Since the 1930s, horror movies have become one of the most watched genres of films. Their popularity has increased majorly among the younger generation. Horror movies have a different kind of excitement that usually captures the audiences attention. For a horror movie to be successful, its elements should create an environment that intimidates the audience by giving an intense feeling causing dread and alarm. Some of the renown horror movies in the 20th century are Friday the 13th (1980) and Nightmares on Elm Street (1984) (Muir, 2012). In both films, the villains kill some people, but one teenage girl survives in both. In Friday the 13th, the fictional character, Alice, survives death at the Camp Crystal Lake where some teenagers had been killed by Mrs. Pamela Voorhees whose son had drowned in the lake due to negligence by the staff members. In Nightmares at the Elms Street, Nancy also survives despite the death of most of her friend after being attacked by Freddy Krueger.

In the film, Nightmare on the Elm Street, Freddy Krueger stalks and kills a group of teenagers in their dreams (Harper, 2004). The strange phenomena are as a result of what their parents had done a long time ago. He had been blamed for being a murderer of children. The mob of angry patients hunted him down and burnt him in a building. Freddy, however, survives the ordeal and years later takes revenge on the teenagers at Elm Street. It is believed that his body dies in the real world, but he lives in the spirit world. He is identified as having a disfigured burnt face with a striped red and green sweater. On his right hand, he has a clawed metal glove made of brown leather. He had made the glove by himself in his imagination. According to the directors of the movie, Freddy is a representation of children who have suffered neglect. It is also depicted that the character, Freddy Krueger, serves to represent in a broad view the innermost fears that people have many times.

At first, Freddy stalks and attacks a young teenage girl, Tina Gray. She was attacked in a nightmare where she was in a boiler room. When she wakes up from the dream, but mother notices that she has four slashes in her nightgown. Nancy, who is Tinas best friend consoles her the next morning as she is scared by the ordeal. Her boyfriend too is present to console her to get through the difficult ordeal. Later that night, during a sleepover of Tina is slashed while in her dream and dies in the real world. Nancy Thompson tells his father about the encounter. Her father was a lieutenant. The firsts time that Freddy attacks Nancy is when she falls asleep while in class. She finds the slasher who calls himself Freddy Krueger. Just like Tina, Freddy chases after Nancy in the boiler room. Luckily she wakes up when she burns her arm on a hot pipe. Freddy attacks Nancy on a couple of subsequent dreams. Nancy gets concerned when she realizes she had got a wound on her arm. When she gets home, she decides to have a shower in the bathtub. While in the bathtub, she falls asleep again. Freddy attacks again despite failure in the first attack. She is nearly drowned by Freddy again but escapes from her nightmare. In her scared state, Nancy decides to go to see Rod. Gives her the whole story of what had happened on the day Tina had been murdered. She is now convinced that Freddy Krueger, who had also attacked her, was responsible for the death of Tina and he was out to attack more of them.

Intentionally, Nancy falls asleep to find Freddy. She finds him ready to kill her boyfriend, Rod. She runs and wakes up when her alarm clock rings. She sadly findings out later that rod, while in jail in what is supposed believed to have been a suicide. When Nancy tells her parents about the slasher, they visit a dream clinic with her. At the clinic, she has attacked again and manages to grab Freddys hat. She is woken up by the staff member. She realizes she is in possession of Freddys hat with a wound on her arm. She even manages to pull Freddy out of a dream into the real world. With the help of Glen, she hopes she can trip the slasher. Glens parents do not love the idea and stop him from seeing her. She trips him on a booby trap and set him on fire. She closes the door and runs out of the house to call for help. On arrival of the police, however, they find out that Freddy escaped the fire. He had disappeared with Marge. Nancy is still afraid that Freddy will still come back to attack her. The movie ends in a mysterious way when Freddy attacks Marge and Nancy while in Glens car. Freddy grabs Marge through the window with his clawed glove and dies

According to Crane, (1994), in Friday the 13th, just like Nightmare at the Elm Street is a slasher horror film. It is about a group of teenagers who are planning to have a summer camp at Camp Crystal Lake which had been closed down after one teenager, Jason Voorhees, drowned in the lake. The camp was now being re-opened. Throughout the film, the audience remains at the edge as no one can tell who the villain is. Later the audience realizes that the slasher was the mother of Jonas who had decided to take revenge for her sons death on the campers. Throughout most of such horror movies, we realize that most of the teenagers are killed because of offenses that they do during the camp. It is only the innocent one that survives death.

At the camp, there is a total of 5 counselors along with the owner, Steve. The first counselor to be murdered off-screen by the unknown slasher is Ned. During the time, in one of the cabin bunk bed, Jack, and Marcie who are having sex. They have no idea of what has happened to Ned. Jack becomes the second victim of murder. An arrow pierces his throat from underneath the bed. Marcie too is slammed in the face with an ax. Brenda is also killed off the screen when she rushes out of her cabin after hearing a child scream for help from outside. Steve is also killed shortly when he returns from to the camp after buying the stock supplies.

Alice, who is a new camp counselor at the Crystal Lake is the only survivor in the movie. She had been appointed by Steve, who the son of the original owners of Camp Crystal Lake. Pamela Voorhees pulls over and walks into the cabin with Alice. She tells Alice about her son who had drowned because of counselors negligence. She reveals that she is the killer of the rest of the counselors before turning violent. Alice runs out of the cabin while Pamela chases after her with a bowie knife. In the end, however, when the slasher attacks Alice, she manages to get hold of a machete and decapitates the killer near the lake shores. She then boards a canoe to escape the Camp where she falls asleep. In her sleep, she has a nightmare about a young boy dragging her into the water. She, however, wakes up screaming while in the hospital. She asks about Jason. The police tell her that no boy was caught after the incidence. Worried, it dawns to Alice that Jason is still alive.

Referencing from Benshoff, (2017), in both movies, the female survivor escapes being murdered by the villain. It is only in few movies that the females get the role of being the heroines. In the movie, Friday the 13th the slasher succumbs when Alice decapitates her unlike in Nightmare at the Elm Street where Nancy tries to burn the murderer to death, but his escapisms. Voorhees plays the role of the villain perfectly before Alice murders her. Looking from a different perspective, she is seen to be a dark reflection of the final girl Alice. There a close resemblance to the two movies is depicted at the point where Alice is dreams that she is being dragged into the water by a young boy. This brings out the possibility that Jonas was not dead as thought initially by the audience. It is similar to the attacks in the Nightmares at the Elm Street where the slasher attacks his victims in dreams. There is suspense in both movies as they end while the final girls are still not entirely out of danger yet.

To conclude, in both films survivors are found to be young girls. They are referred to as the final girls. Most of their friends and family do not, however, survive being murdered by the villain. The theme of feminism comes out clear in both films are the female characters are portrayed to survive the scary encounter. The girls are seen to be brave in the horrifying moments. Despite different plot of the films, in Nightmare at the Elm Street, where the Freddy kills the teenagers while in their dreams and in Friday the 13th where the villain kills the victims in the real world, the final girls still manage to escape a horrifying death. Of more interest is how Nancy from Nightmare on the Elm Street manages to pull Freddy out of her dream into the real world. She then trips him in a booby trap and lights him on fire for the second time in his life. Ironically, Freddy still survives (Hutchings, 2009). In 2003, a crossover film between a Nightmare at the Elm Street and Friday the 13th was released. It went by the title Freddy vs. Jason. It brings out both characters fighting one another.


Benshoff, H. M. (2017). A companion to the horror film. Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.

Crane, J. L. (1994). Terror and everyday life : singular moments in the history of the horror film. Thousand Oaks,Calif: Sage Publication.

Harper, J. (2004). Legacy of blood : a comprehensive guide to slasher movies. Manchester: Headpress.

Hutchings, P. (2009). The A to Z of Horror Cinema. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. Group.

Muir, J. K. (2012). Horror films of the 1980s. 1985-1989. Jefferson, N.C: Mcfarland,.



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