Since yesterday's review featured Michael Myers, the character that kicked off the slasher genre, I decided to take a look at another slasher icon today, specifically Freddy Krueger. Let's take a look at what is often hailed as "the other scary one" in the franchise, Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
The movie opens on a film set where a special effects crew is working on a new installment in the Nightmare On Elm Street series. The robotic clawed hand takes on a life of its own and attacks the crew. Heather Langenkamp, star of the original film, awakens from a nightmare as an earthquake shakes their home. We realize that her husband, Chase, was one of the crew members attacked in the dream, and his fingers are cut in a manner identical to his wounds in the dream. Heather has been stalked by a man pretending to be Freddy Krueger, calling and sending her strange letters in the mail. Chase leaves for work, secretly working on a new Nightmare On Elm Street film. After a television appearance with co-star Robert Englund, Heather is offered a role in the new film, which Wes Craven is currently writing, but her stalker and her young son, Dylan, cause her to hesitate. Dylan begins having nightmares and troubled sleep, convinced that Freddy is coming for him. As Dylan's condition worsens and people around her start dropping dead in eerily familiar fashions, Heather begins to suspect that Freddy Krueger is more than mere fiction.
I'll be honest, I've never really cared for Freddy. The only time I ever found him scary was when my brother forced me to watch the marionette scene from... three? Was that part three? They all run together for me. Other than that, I've always just seen Freddy as a loud, obnoxious clown. The first time I ever sat down to watch this movie, my best friend's little brother rented it, convinced it would make me pee my pants.
I fell asleep before the end of the opening scene.
That said, though, I will admit that New Nightmare is the second scariest of the original series, right behind the original, but not because of Freddy. It's actually Dylan, played by prolific child actor Miko Hughes. You probably remember him as Gage from Pet Sematary. As Dylan spirals further into sleep-deprived psychosis, the film gets scarier, and you begin to fear for him and his mother, but then Freddy finally shows up... or rather, an ancient demon masquerading as Freddy. In the film's climax, we're treated to a bunch of recycled gags from previous Nightmare films, including Freddy's tongue coming out of the phone, the swampy stairs, Freddys stretching arms, and even his snaking tongue. Frankly, Freddy ruins the movie. The threat of Freddy is scarier than his actual arrival.
My verdict, skip it, and most of the series. While it's impossible to deny Freddy's status as a horror icon, I just can't take him seriously as a villain. If the film hadn't devolved into utter silliness in the final act, I would have enjoyed it more.