Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Movie Review: "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" (1994)

Director: Wes Craven
Year: 1994
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 52 minutes

As director Wes Craven begins to work on a new film, actress Heather Langenkamp, who played Nancy in the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street," starts to believe that Freddy Kruger has left the silver screen and has entered the real world and is now targeting her and her family. 

Heather Lagenkamp featured in a movie still for Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) talking on the phone in her kitchen about Freddy Kruger
"I think the only way to stop it is to make another movie." (Image Source)
In the early-mid 1990s, acclaimed director Wes Craven was feeling very meta. Before he hit it out of the park with the smash hit "Scream," he first took a swing that maybe flew a little foul with his first self-aware horror effort "Wes Craven's New Nightmare." Actress Heather Langenkamp (Heather Langenkamp), who played Nancy Thompson in the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" film, has always lived in the shadow of that series. Now that it's finally over, she has moved on to other career ventures. As Wes Craven begins writing a new script, Heather feels that Freddy Kruger himself, not actor Robert Englund in a costume, has left the pictures and is now after her and her family. When people start dying off one by one, and when her son Dylan (Miko Hughes) shows signs that he is being tormented, Heather knows she's not crazy, even if others think she is. She must now find a way to end the nightmares, and according to Wes Craven, the only way to do that is to make a new film starring Freddy Kruger.
Movie scene from the horror film Wes Craven's New Nightmare where Robert Englund talks on a cordless phone to Wes Craven
"Just because it's a love story doesn't mean it can't have a decapitation or two." (Image Source)
We all thought Freddy Kruger was dead and that he had his "final nightmare." Now, just three years later, he's back, though not as part of the original series, at least not directly. Wes Craven returns for the first time with full creative control over the character he created, and he takes the nightmare in a whole new direction. Not only has the setting changed, but the tone is drastically different as well. For the majority of this film, the playful undertone that Freddy Kruger delivered throughout the series is gone. Despite being a meta film, it is also more grave in tone than any of the previous Freddy-featured flicks, at least until the third act when Freddy becomes more like his old, goofy self. Some viewers may like this more overly serious mood, but frankly, we didn't love it. The pacing is a bit slow-moving. On top of that, at nearly 112 minutes in length, it is longer than any of the films in the series, and you can definitely feel it. We found ourselves struggling to stay engaged with the story. It has a few compelling elements sprinkled in here and there, but other parts of the narrative don't feel fully realized or cohesive. Despite trying to make Freddy a more menacing presence, the horror factor feels extremely dialed back. Also, none of the deaths are all that creative this time around. The most imaginative one is really just a callback to the original film. We think Craven was a little too self-indulgent when making this installment. It's almost as if he was so happy to be back in full control of his character that he went crazy and did a bunch of stuff that sounded cool on paper, but never really materialized like he hoped they would.
Freddy Kruger (Robert Englund) prepares to slash his next victim in a movie still for the 1994 horror sequel "Wes Craven's New Nightmare"
"I guess evil never dies, right?" (Image Source)
We have heard many people call "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" "the best "A Nightmare on Elm Street" film since the original," but for us, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Though it's not terrible, we were left a bit underwhelmed by it.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.4/10
RT Rating: 78%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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