After 6 films, the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series has evolved over time from supernatural horror to a comedic slasher. And while Robert Englund’s performance has always been stellar, the kills gags that keep these movies going. With Wes Craven returning to the director’s chair for the first time, “New Nightmare” begs the question of what if Freddy Kreuger was real all along?
Its predecessors have been self-aware in the past, but here the film acknowledges its own existence. Set in the real world, Nightmare on Elm Street alum Heather Langenkamp is having strange occurrences such as phone calls and nightmares. At first, she thinks its a fan celebrating the 10 year anniversary, though it soon becomes more sinister.
The acting is the best in the series by far. We get to see Robert Englund play himself for the first time, a much kinder man than his horrific character that brought him to fame. It’s refreshing to see a new side of him. I find myself falling under a spell and believe that Heather is a real person. She doesn’t act exactly the same as her character in the series which is accurate to the screenplay. The focus is on the relationship with her son, in which you truly begin to believe she would do anything for him. The film gets pretty chilling as it progresses, especially when Heather’s son begins experiencing similar situations. This connection brings both the heart and terror into the fold.
The appearance of Kreuger is much more menacing, a smart decision when it comes to the story. He has been given a facelift, replacing blisters with more scorched tears in his flesh. Even the brows have more of an arch making his eyes more piercing. Freddy’s wardrobe is updated with brighter colors to his sweater that contrast his skin and new trench coat. The new outfit gives him a more stalkerish vibe that adds to his creepiness. Unlike the past, Freddy is far less comedic this time around. Several times he appears in a jumpscare, a tactic not used that successfully in the franchise- it works well here. He isn’t physically in the majority of the flick, but the suspense of his presence is enough to hold over the eeriness of the iconic character.
Only a few times in Hollywood do we get a successful horror sequel that brings back several cast members and a director. “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” is one exception that many fans of the series consider to be the best of the sequels. It’s a much more frightening reimagining and bookend to the series that was starting to become tiresome.