The fact that the Nightmare franchise tackles the usage of dreams undoubtedly creates moments of audiences scratching their heads as they attempt to distinguish reality from fantasy. That is exactly what happened at the end of “A Nightmare on Elm Street”. The mind trickery continues with the second installment “Freddy’s Revenge” as we pick up with Jesse, a new teen who has moved into Nancy’s old house. Within days of the move, Jesse begins to have dreams of Freddy and continually wakes up screaming and drenched in sweat. This time, however, Freddy comes with a new bag of tricks.
Usually, the first sequel of a horror film attempts to ride off the success of the original with an identical storyline, but “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” mixes things up. Instead of killing teens in their dreams, Freddy seemingly possesses a teen while they sleep and kills his prey in the real world. Jesse’s fear makes him the perfect target as host. With this new tactic, we get several scenes that blur the line of what’s real and not. This works in some instances but overall becomes messy as you don’t know what the rules are. Are we to believe what we are seeing is all happening in the real world or a mix of both? If you take scenes individually it makes sense- which is a shame because the premise strays into new territories that could make an even better successor.
Jesse himself is a character you want to sympathize with, but his story arch just seems bland. If only his arc was as stand out as his scream; a gut buster every time you hear it. It literally sounds like a woman’s scream is dubbed over. We get a love interest, but the relationship just doesn’t land. This can be said with all relationships as we see Grady being a careless jerk who fights with Jesse to later be turned into his closest friends he turns to when in trouble. For sure the two could have befriended each other over time, but it switches from enemies to best buds in an instant. I like many viewers are here for Freddy and his antics, but the lack of character development just makes the film seem sloppy.
The paranoia aspect is still present within the film, though at a much less impactful level. The scares don’t really have the same bite to them as the original. The effects, however, are still very much praiseworthy. One scene, in particular, is mesmerizing. After Jesse warns Grady that Freddy is haunting inside him, his body becomes a cocoon as Freddy emerges; ripping through Jesse’s flesh. The practical usage is fantastic here.
Overall, “Freddy’s Revenge” is a decent entry in the franchise; expanding on the supernatural aspects while maintaining the core theme of paranoia. It’s a much slower burn than “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, though we get a fun scene of Freddy at a pool party slashing his way at teens.