Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon: New Nightmare
If it wasn’t for Wes Craven, horror fans wouldn’t have a boogeyman to fear and thrill over. Freddy Krueger was the brainchild of Craven from his own childhood so it made sense when it came for Wes to do his Nightmare sequel, he would be given proper care. However, this vision he had didn’t come to light because New Line deemed it too risky. But like most ideas, they never go to waste. This concept of doing a Nightmare sequel in a more cerebral context was used for the seventh film in the franchise. It was looser, not faithful to the original themes present in the first movie and far darker than any of the other films. Despite praise from critics, this Nightmare wasn’t a huge box-office hit despite taking in a modest gross. However, it wouldn’t be till over time this one would be recognized better through home video as one of the best.
New Nightmare is an all together different movie because it doesn’t continue any of the storylines from the Nightmare films. Wes gives this one its own spin and becomes more of a commentary on movies and the impact they leave. The stardom they craft and the negative things that surface. Heather Langenkamp plays as herself; the Nightmare franchise has her labeled so deeply that she can’t avoid it. So much that the studio begs her to do another sequel under her reluctance. Throughout the whole movie, she experiences twisted nightmares of a much different Freddy who kills the actors of the Nightmare franchise and brings a far more deep menace than the cartoon he eventually became.
Right off the bat, this is not your average movie but filled with so many fourth wall moments that it feels more like a mirror. We get to see the impact of what these movies do for not just the audience but also the people who play a part in them. Instead of seeing them as glamorized and star struck, they try to cope with the fame and live a normal life. This is evident in Robert Englund’s scenes as he enjoys every moment being Freddy for the kids and signing autographs but yet senses a dark cloud on the horizon when taking up painting. This is one of the few movies where I feel it states that those in the business are people too. We know some can take the fame to their head but others just see it as a job or something to pass through life.
But more important is the commentary on the effect of horror and its audience. Heather has a son in New Nightmare named Dylan (Miko Hughes) which leads to more curiosity to the interviews when asked if the movies she is are are safe to expose to her kid. Its that common morale question of how much an impact something like Freddy has made to our culture for audiences of old and new. At this point in the franchise, Freddy is seen as a one linear spewing clown and that’s the side audiences want to see more than anything.
New Nightmare, however, gives us two Kruegers for the price of one. While Robert prances around in make-up for the kids, we also see a more darker take (also played by Robert Englund). This darker variation is the Freddy we know exists but don’t wish to. A more sinister take that plays with audience’s fears than enjoyment. I must applaud Wes for giving us this different version that was originally closer to what was intended for the first film. This Freddy doesn’t clown around. He is a vicious killing machine that inhabits our deepest fears. The design is so different from the one we are used to that it almost feels terrifying to look at from skeleton-like claws and a darker color for his clothes.
As Heather is plagued with visions, so do we question what is the real world in this movie and what is the fantasy of the film. The line is burred so well that we keep questioning it or just don’t care and let the film enrich us. In order to describe what I mean, I would have to ruin the final 30 minutes as the film world of Elm Street invades Heather’s reality. In a struggle to choose, she eventually decides to face the monster that she was cast in one last time in order to bring reality to order. The whole tone of the movie is so surreal that it almost does have a dream like quality. Even right down to using fairy tale cliches to contrast with the moral question. If we let kids read dark Grimm tales like Hansel and Gretel, then what is holding us back from showing an R rated movie?
Its funny how this movie came out right before Scream would later take the stand as seeds of it can be seen in New Nightmare. Scream, however, takes what New Nightmare did and attempts to perfect it into a narrative film. New Nightmare I feel is the better movie. Sure it gets crazy in the last third but its very engaging. And its director Wes never talks down to his viewers or tries to paint them in a negative light. He shows both sides and lets us make our own decision based on what he gives us. New Nightmare is more than just a great entry that deserves a watch. But a love letter to horror movies, the audiences that love them and the people who lend a hand in making them. And nowhere is that prominent than in this grand outing.
Posted on October 9, 2015, in Horror-Wood 2015 and tagged A Nightmare on Elm Street, cerebral, Franchise, Freddy Kreuger, Heather Langenkamp, Horror, Horror-Wood, Horror-Wood Blog-a-Thon, Nancy Thompson, new Line Cinema, New Nightmare, Robert Englund, Wes Craven. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.