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Slasher Review: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Wes Craven's New Nightmare movie poster

Written by Josh Brewer, May 5, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. Tweet to: @theJWBrewer


New NightmareTitle: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Director: Wes Craven
Writer: Wes Craven
Release Date: October 14th, 1994
Cast: Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, Mike Hughes, John Saxon, Tracy Middendorf, Miko Hughes, David Newsom, Robert Englund, Wes Craven

Cliff’s Notes

As the Nightmare team begins to prep another film in the series, the cast and creative team of the films find themselves drawn into a real life nightmare.

Lecture

Thank god! After a slow decline over the last several films, Part 6 being the most offensive, New Line gets its ass in gear and the series moves into a better place! The return of Craven to the series suggests a kind of score settling. Once he was properly compensated and credited for his amazing work with the original series, New Line managed to get him to put out one more film. New Nightmare is more aggressive in both scope and structure, allowing it to comment on the art of story telling in a way that so few films do.

New Nightmare is, before anything else, a horror film. All of the tropes make an appearance, from a series of terrifying phone calls to a newly revived Fred Kreuger slicing and dicing his way New Nightmarethrough the cast. But here, more than in the previous installments, he serves as a metaphor. Previous incarnations have used him either as a symbol of the failures of a parent’s morality or a viscous, embodied disease (Part 2 even equated Kreuger with repressed homosexuality), but here he serves as the evil in the world that is embodied within stories. It’s a fascinating idea, fully developed and spun around a fun, fourth-wall-breaking horror flicks.

That’s not to say that everything is perfect. The series has a nasty tendency to overuse the “Not Evil Doctor Who Does Evil Things Cause… Doctor” cliche and New Nightmare ain’t an exception. I could also have used more of Englund and Craven being themselves- fantastic all around – but that might be asking a bit too much. My only real complain falls to the finale, which seems more interested in revisiting the fairy tale Elm Street world that the real world that Craven has created. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, it just seems outside of the rest of the flick…

Acting

Langenkamp give a fantastic performance, easily the highlight of her career. She goes through the wringer and I was with her the whole way. Englund, Saxon, Craven, and the rest of the real world folks have fun playing themselves while Saxon’s return to his Elm Street character rocks. Middendorf plays her good girl character with aplomb while Hughes doesn’t bug me nearly as much as other child actors. The cast here is spot on.

New NightmareDirecting

Craven tones down his usual stylishness and plays things in a much more realistic fashion. This makes the real world scenes hit much harder. Once he switches to full dream powerhouse, Craven still rocks. He build tension like a boss and delivers a slew of cool kills. While the finale falls a little outside of the tone of the rest of the piece, New Nightmare manages to right the ship and Craven is the reason why.

Script

Craven’s skills as a story teller are like a fine wine, they just keep getting better with age. Here, he manages to create something inherently familiar and within the ANOES universe but also unique entry at the same time. His characters are well crafted and the dialogue superb. Last but not least, he returns Freddy to the vicious monster that Craven crafted a decade before. Grade A!

EffectsNew Nightmare

As always, the Nightmare series rocks the SFX and New Nightmare doesn’t change a thing. The red stuff flows with a few of the hardcore kills, while the practical effects look fantastic.

Highlights

The first kill is like hardcore!

This is just too perfect not to post

Lowlights

Just a little thing, I could have used a few more kills. The ones we get rock, but it gets a little dry in the middle block.

Final Thoughts  

A commentary on the effects of story telling? A solid horror slasher with a vicious streak? A dry run for the Scream series? All checks! That makes Wes Craven’s New Nightmare both a highlight of the ANOES series and a quality flick, all at the same time!

Grade: B+

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