I Am Nancy (2011)

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I Am NancyStarring Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Wes Craven, Tom Kircher

Directed by Arlene Marechal

In the documentary I Am Nancy, Heather Langenkamp explores the strengths and weaknesses of her character of Nancy from the A Nightmare on Elm Street series through both her own experiences and fans’ perceptions as well as through interviews with a few of its major players. From these interviews and interactions we find out what made, and still makes, Nancy such an important heroine.

Langenkamp and director Marechal went to multiple conventions around the world and asked fans to describe why they like Nancy and why she is so important to them. A wheelchair-bound fan from the UK explained it best I believe when she said that Nancy shows us to use our inner strength to fight the worst in our lives, make it through, and become stronger for it.

At these same conventions Heather goes on the hunt for Nancy toys and collectibles and discovers that most ANOES merchandise is all about Freddy, and the few pieces relating to Nancy look nothing like her. To fill this market void, Heather hires an artist to make a doll of herself as Nancy, which I personally would love to get my hands on if/when it ever hits stores.

To counterbalance the fans and their views on the character, Heather chats with Robert Englund about their interactions on the set and their respective views on why the movies, and their characters, have kept ever-growing fanbases. Another interview is with Wes Craven, the creator of the series — and of Nancy — who discusses where he got his inspiration for the character. As some of that inspiration came from influential women in his life, Heather also meets with his daughter, Jessica, who explains what it was like growing up with Wes Craven as a father. She talks further about finding out there was a bit of her in Nancy and how she influenced her dad’s choices in the movie, including selecting Johnny Depp to portray Glen Lantz.

I Am Nancy is a must-see for fans of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series and of Heather Langenkamp. It is at times funny, at times quite serious, and oftentimes very touching. What really makes the documentary about Nancy, and Heather, feel so real and personal is that Heather understands the fact that Nancy is secondary to Freddy to most people, and she has no problem poking fun at herself.

4 out of 5

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Emilie Black

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  • Cinemascribe

    It’s funny.. I liked Laurie Strode, loved Ellen Ripley, thought Alice from Elm Streets 4 and 5 was likable and even liked the girl from the original Friday the 13th…but I didn’t care much for this particular female protagonist until Dream Warriors. As she appeared in the original ANOES, I found Nancy Thompson to be fairly annoying and unlikeable. The reason I was cheering for her to beat Freddy had less to do with any sort of connection that I made with the character than a combination of Krueger being so unforgivably evil in his original incarnation that you wanted to see him lose in the end and the fact that the only other female characters are Tina (who cops it fairly early on) and the mom, who is pretty much a colorless washout from the first scenes.

    In the third film, I think there’s a lot more to like and a lot more to cheer for concerning Nancy. I enjoyed the older sibling dynamic she had going on with Kristen and, by the end of the film, I genuinely gave a crap about the character’s fate. I also thought it was cool how they actually progressed the development of the character, identifying that she used the experience from the original film to determine the career path she would pursue as an adult, working with teens who are experiencing the terrors she was forced to survive. Suddenly she’d become a character with even more strength and a touch of class. Fighting the boogeyman because your ass is on the line is simply survival. But going after him -while knowing full well what he’s capable of – for the purpose of saving someone else? That’s courage.

    • Pestilence

      REALLY well said, man. Spot on.

      • Cinemascribe