Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

As I said yesterday, I’m glad they got Wes Craven back to close out the series properly. The series had become a complete parody of itself with Freddy’s Dead, and New Nightmare is a very welcome return to the scarier origins of the series. It’s also a premise that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before or after in a horror movie or elsewhere (excepting maybe Adaptation).

Set in the “real” world, we get to meet Heather Langenkamp (Nancy from the first Nightmare) and her family, as she and her son both start having nightmares about a surprisingly dark, more evil-seeming Freddy. We also get to meet up with other actors from the original film, including the delightful John Saxon and makeup-free Robert Englund (though sadly there is no appearance by Johnny Depp), as well as a good deal of crew members, including Wes Craven himself, as he busies himself with writing a new Nightmare screenplay. Eventually we learn that Freddy was actually a kind of primal evil that was shaped and contained within the stories of the first few films, but has been leaking out slowly into the real world as a result of the watering down and eventual dissolution of his stories.

This is a brilliant idea for a horror movie, and provides a superior bit of metatextuality (a word that fits so perfectly that I do not care that MS Word is telling me it isn’t real) to Craven’s later work on the Scream series. Freddy is about the most ideal candidate for a story about a horror villain that finds a way to escape from his fictional origins and menace people in reality, since he’s been sort of doing that very thing in each of his films prior to this. This is the true peak of the series, and should be required viewing for any serious horror fans.

Though man, does that kid get annoying.

Rating: ****

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