After coming to an explosive end in Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, many thought that maybe ?— just maybe ?— Freddy Krueger’s twisted spirit would be put to rest. After all, how many films can you make about a child killer who haunts the dreams of the children whose parents who burned him alive? Creator Wes Craven had an answer to that: One more. In his aptly titled Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, new life was breathed into the character… or something like that. Although this is a different Freddy, it’s enough inside the Krueger canon to merit an article in this series.
You see, this is not technically Freddy. It’s actually an entity playing Freddy Krueger. Confused? Well, there’s something else: Robert Englund also appears in this movie as Robert Englund, the actor. It is a nifty premise, and the Demon acting as Freddy does its best to bring Krueger out into the real world, going after the real-life (albeit fictionalized) Heather Langenkamp and her son, Dylan (Miko Hughes). While this vaguely reptilian pseudo-Freddy is basically an impostor, it does operate by certain Freddy principles. For example, it plays games with people’s minds, blending the world of dreams/fantasy with reality. At various points, it also ends up approximating the universe of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, and to potentially startling effect.
Let me annoy you by donning my critic’s cap for a moment.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare does have an innovative concept, playing with the idea of movies becoming real. That being said, the Freddy impostor does have a few strikes against it, though they’re hard to define. The glove looks different and, in my opinion, isn’t as compelling as the original glove concept. Then again, this isn’t an ordinary review article, so I won’t discuss that too much. Suffice it to say, it looks more like a prop, and I wish they went with the Terminator look the glove originally has in the movie, which you can glimpse in the above trailer. Obviously, this Freddy still retains the burnt-looking skin and the classic hat, as well as certain Krueger mannerisms.
Strengths and Weaknesses
New Nightmare does play by certain rules, although Pseudo Freddy is arguably as powerful as the Film Freddy. In fact, given how the entity blends with phenomenon like earthquakes and traffic accidents, it’s possible that it’s perhaps stronger than the previous model. Nevertheless, make no mistake about it: This demon/creature has manifold weaknesses. Much of its power seems to come from the imagination of its targets, which essentially matches the previous Fred Krueger concept.
It also can be contained inside stories, and can only break free when they stop. It perhaps latched onto Freddy’s form because, let’s face it, Freddy was losing his grip on the public imagination at the time. What a good time to escape! It’s an interesting, self-aware approach to use Freddy’s slightly waning popularity as a way to make him re-emerge again. It’s meta, but it works.
As we see throughout New Nightmare, pseudo-Freddy gains power over the creative people who helped launch Krueger as a character and concept. This suggests that, when it comes down to it, the entity has a special desire to attack such creative people, or perhaps must use them as a first-step link to ultimately attack the world at large. Whatever this creature’s weaknesses are, they seem to involve Dylan and Heather to a large degree, too. Perhaps Heather/Nancy— as a character — is forever there as the Yin to its Yang, and it can only gain an advantage by defeating her. At the same time, Freddy does kill others who are around Nancy. It’s difficult to pinpoint how far the entity’s gloved hand can extend.
While it’s not my favorite Nightmare movie (in fact, I prefer even Freddy’s Dead over it), I do still enjoy it and the unique concepts involved. It’s also a testament to how Wes Craven can make a movie that (let’s be honest) praises himself as a creative force without making it cringeworthy. How many other filmmakers could do that? Virtually none, yet he does it with flying colors and somehow comes off more likable because of it.
Wes Craven truly was a great horror filmmaker, and this movie provides exactly the kind of creative spin the franchise needed at the time. Plus, let’s face it: If you’re a fan of the original Freddy films, you’ll probably agree that every one of the franchise movie’s at least worth checking out.
What are your thoughts on Wes Craven’s New Nightmare? Let us know in the comments!