Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

This is Wes Craven's way of saying 'There, I fixed it. Don't touch, just leave it alone.' New Nightmare is a very different departure from the rest of the series, it's set in Hollywood where the tenth anniversary of the original Nightmare on Elm Street movie is approaching. Wes Craven is far from escaping the fame of the first film though as now after six films a demon in the form of Freddy is haunting him, coercing him to write a new script. Craven approaches Heather Langenkamp to revise her role as Nancy, now a wife and mother Heather is apprehensive as she prefers her TV career to her horror legacy, especially in the case of her son. However when Heather's husband dies and she realizes that someone is targeting her son Dylan, Heather has to revert into the dream-scape yet again to stop Freddy.

The seventh installment has, as do they all, the goods and the bad. Goods are this one has some actual thought behind it, as Wes Craven has tried to do with several of his films, but not just make it horror but connect it to real life. This is the predecessor to Scream, the characters within the movie recognize the Elm Street movies as films and Robert England as Freddy. There's parallels to Hansel and Gredel as well as a study of the connection between children and the horror industry today, or rather to how it was in the 90's. In this Craven produces a new look for Freddy that does not quite go with his original story, but it makes sense seeing how Freddy is more of an entity in this than an actual character. It does make for a more horrifying face though, which in addition to a number of other things revamps Freddy as scary. Particularly there's a horror reminescent of the fear caused in the first film, not being killed in your dreams but rather being pulled in to your own bed. Is that...yes...Freddy is actually using his claws! Oh my God what a concept. As my past reviews have hopefully let on that I have found a particular annoyance with that, but this time no he signs his signature on everything.

Craven does the duo role of writing and directing, he plays around with the fact to fiction in the screenplay, especially with the characters. Heather Langenkamp, who suffered a terrifying stalker incident in real life is reliving the fear as Freddy calls her house phone, harassing her and her son. Langenkamp is really quite good at playing herself, which along with other types of acting, such as playing dumb, gets underestimated and overlooked as easy. Robert England's spin is that he's a bit of a whore for the attention of the pop culture fandom, and he paints! England has fun with the depiction of the character and of course teases the viewer by having creepy moments, where you question if he's behind the murders. John Saxon comes back in a larger role (yay!) and Fran Bennett has a very memorable moment in her small scene. Other Nightmare characters like Lyn Shaye come in for cameos as well as Craven himself and Boy Shaye, the man behind all the films.

The downside is it's not a film for the hardcore fans. The ones who love Freddy as the pop culture icon he is and not so much of his terror or Craven's ability to write might not like the film as its not like the first six. The film isn't great, and it has had no where near the impact Scream had, but its not bad and unique. Don't go out of your way to watch it but if it happens to be on TV, click on it and check it out.

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