(dir. Wes Craven)
A Nightmare on Elm Street was the first horror movie that truly scared me as a child, so much that I couldn’t finish it on the first go ‘round. Once Tina showed up at school in a body bag, I was done. While the Nightmare on Elm Street series lacked consistency, it was always the most imaginative of the slasher franchises, thanks to Wes Craven’s initial ability to play with perception. Five films and ten years after the original, Wes Craven returned to Elm Street with New Nightmare. The film centers a fictionalized version of Heather Langenkamp (who played Nancy in the first and third films) who has been plagued with nightmares and phone threats ever since Wes Craven began working on his new script. After her family’s life is put in danger, Heather confronts Craven who reveals that the previous Nightmare films captured the essence of Freddy Krueger, but when the films stopped the true evil entity was set free. Heather is tasked with playing Nancy, one final time, to stop the demon from escaping from his world into ours.
New Nightmare was Craven’s first foray into meta-cinema before the Scream series, and his thoughts on the rules of horror films first emerge here. The film is more dramatic and slower paced than the previous entries in the series, and it breaks away from its slasher roots becoming more of a macabre, family-focused fairy tale. There is a strong sense of freedom to the film, and you can feel Craven stretching his creativity. While the film doesn’t have the same frightening imagery as the first, the expansion of the mythology and some interesting commentary on writing and the inability to move beyond an iconic role makes the film a success.
Scare Factor: 2/5 While it lacks the sheer terror of the original, New Nightmare is an incredibly intelligent film that does something new with the concept instead of trying to replicate the originals. And with this year being the 30th anniversary of the original and the 20th anniversary of New Nightmare, it’s certainly the right time to check in on Freddy again.