Sunday, May 09, 2010

New Nightmare (1994)

A demonic force has decided to use the visage of Freddy Krueger to enter our world with its actions corresponding with a script that Wes Craven is writing to bring the franchise back. Heather Langenkamp (as herself) is experiencing Freddy-related dreams in her real life while dealing with a stalker who calls to recite the ever familiar nursery rhyme (1..2..). She is offered the lead role in the new Nightmare feature and soon after deaths surrounding the picture start to occur. As she investigates further, she realizes that other old cast members are having the same issues and her young son is afraid to sleep because of something that visits his room each night.

Craven must have been pretty disgusted with how his creation was perverted over the course of five sequels. Well, either that or he realized that no one was paying much attention to his output leading up to New Nightmare (personally, I think People Under the Stairs (1991) is his best film though I question if the campiness of it all was really intentional). Whatever it may have been, he returned to put the Nightmare series to bed once and for least for a few years.

Such a waste. A solid premise that could have wrapped up a longstanding slasher franchise in the best way possible is wasted by the truly awful decision to focus almost entirely on the 'mother who will do anything to save her child' angle. Yawn. There was so much potential with these actors actually having to face off against the demon that made their careers, but instead they are either unnecessary to the story (how come John Saxon wasn't being affected by the demon the way every other character was?) or written out halfway through (Robert Englund actually leaves a phone message to let us know he is going to completely disappear without explanation). Show of hands, who wouldn't want to see Robert Englund have to take on Freddy?

But no, instead we have yet another doe-eyed, slightly creepy horror movie child who turns every serious moment he is given into unintended comedy. I am not usually one to pick on eight year olds, but seriously, this kid was awful. I blame Craven as much as anything as you need to know your limits when it comes to child actors as good ones tend to be few and far between and some of the things he had this kid doing (the gravelly-voiced "Never sleep again") was never going to work. And really, why should I care? It just seems like Craven got lazy when his original vision of bringing back those that started it all to actually face an evil on par with Freddy wasn't coming together, so he threw in some run of the mill child in peril nonsense.

There are other issues that arose: a lack of any kind of history about the demon masquerading as Freddy trying to enter our world, that damn freeway scene (I can suspend disbelief as well as anyone, but if the money/technology is not there, do something else), demon Freddy's glossy finish. Seriously, he looks like his skin just got buffed and waxed and though it is difficult to tell because of the trenchcoat, I swear this Freddy is wearing leather pants. Let that sink in for a minute. Leather. Pants.

There are a number of nice nods to the original Nightmare. I will give it that.


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