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Wes Craven's New Nightmare

If there's one element that made the original Nightmare On Elm Street stand out from other '80's horror movies, it's the element of creativity. Instead of having a faceless killer maul and slice through victims, Freddy Kruger was a far different beast when it came to murder. Though he could only come to you through your dreams, he could do whatever he wished from that moment on. He could suffocate you, throw you around the room Exorcist-style, thrust his knife-laden glove through your body, etc. and so forth. It wasn't a great movie, let alone a really good one, but its creativity and imagination were something to be admired about the film. It truly understood the surrealism of nightmares. Once the sequels arrived, however, Freddy Kruger went from a boogieman to a psychotic Bugs Bunny-like character. It wouldn't be until this film, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, that the original director would step in to pick up the pieces of his shattered monster.

To separate itself from the previous films, New Nightmare takes place in our "reality" aka the "real world". The previous Nightmare on Elm Street were, in this reality, just films created to fuel the fanbase of the horror franchise. There is no Freddy Kruger, there is no Nancy, and there is no Elm Street. After killing off Freddy in the previous film, Heather Langenkamp - the actress who played Nancy in the films - is starting to experience strange activity. Her son's losing sleep, random phone calls and letters are being sent to her referencing her films, and she's having horrible nightmares that involve the character and sets of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Once Heather's ten-year old son starts to quote Freddy Kruger and become suicidal, she begins to think that the character of Freddy may be more real than she originally believed.

Like the original film, New Nightmare is certainly a creative film. The combination of the films' mythology with the metaphysical questions it asks is not only very imaginative, but pretty smart as well. What is reality? If a writer puts a large amount of thought, time, and heart into a fictional character, how real does the character become? Does he/she remain a figment or does a certain sense of reality come with the character? If anything, the film's much smarter than any of the previous Nightmare films combined.

The new focus on character is also very appreciated. Before, one wouldn't normally care if a person in a horror movie died or not, because so little time was spent with this person. Here, however, we get to know Heather and her fears, though on a relatively small level. This makes it easier to like and care about our leading character, which in turn makes the film much more effective. It still relies on gags and gore, unfortunately, but the build-up to Freddy's appearances is very, very atmospheric.

The film's far from perfect though. Often, the film can still have that cheesiness that the original film had, and it makes it that much harder to take the film on a serious level. The worst offender when it comes to cheesiness would be the little actor who portrays Heather's son. He's meant to be seen as a psychotic, disturbed, and frightening child...but this little boy doesn't know how to act at all. He's so bad sometimes that I couldn't help but plant my face into my palm whenever the child spoke. It was so cringe-worthy, stilted, and stereotypically dull that it was a pain to watch this child. If he weren't a main character, this wouldn't be so bad. Sadly, though, he is, meaning you have to watch this child act horribly for an hour and a half.

The script, though creative, can be pretty lacking sometime. The dialogue's OK at best, and the film sometimes feels cluttered by the numerous amount of plot that the writer's trying to get through into a single film.

Still, the visuals in this film are pretty nice. Wes Craven still understands the surrealism of nightmares and dreams, making it interesting to watch the characters dream. For instance, there's an interesting sequences where Heather's child gets pulled through into a padded coffin and then, before long, the child is getting pulled though a narrow *tunnel* made of the padded coffin material. It's creative to say the least.

Overall, the film's pretty good. If you can look past the mild levels of cheesiness, some of the bad acting, and the above average dialogue, you'll find a pretty interesting film. Wes Craven's New Nightmare is creative, visually interesting, and smarter than most horror movies - though that's probably not saying much.





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