Friday, October 23, 2015

Frightful Features - Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)

I'm not the biggest fan of "meta-films", movies that prevent the audience from forgetting they are watching a work of fiction. The reason for this is that a lot of movies that fall within this category tend to "wink" at the audience too much or pat themselves upon the back when they think they're being clever, when they actually aren't.

With that being said, there are a few that I actually really enjoy. Today's feature is one of them: Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Wes Craven's New Nightmare is a meta-slasher film directed and written by the late master of horror. Although the seventh entry within the popular franchise, New Nightmare takes place within our world a decade after the original A Nightmare on Elm Street was released. The story focuses on Heather Langenkamp, the actress who played the first film's heroine Nancy Thompson, currently living in Los Angeles with her husband Chase and young son Dylan. After experiencing a horrible nightmare during an earthquake, Heather discovers her son is being haunted while he sleeps by a man that sounds an awful lot like Mr. Krueger, which is peculiar since she's never shown him any of the films. Quickly, Heather learns a dark secret behind the movies: Freddy Krueger might not be as fictional as she believes, and he might have his eyes set upon her son. Can Heather become the character she once portrayed in order to save her child, or will Krueger succeed at his nefarious goals?

New Nightmare has this interesting concept of a famous slasher from a horror movie being something more, possibly something ancient trapped within the moving frames. It gives a cool explanation for why they keep making more and more of these movies, even thought it becomes harder to explain each and every entry. The reason being that once they stop production, the creature trapped within will escape and reek havoc once more.

That is a great concept for a metafilm, and New Nightmare uses it very well. It references the other films, but does so in a respectful manner instead of an annoying wink to the audience. It delves into the power these movies can have on the real world, but takes it one step further. It also feels like the perfect way to end the franchise, by having Freddy not only escape the world of dreams, but the world of film as well.

Because of this, New Nightmare is one of my favorite entries within the franchise. I still like the original and Dream Warriors better, but this one is a VERY close third. I love the concept, I enjoy the performances (especially from Langenkamp and England), and the effects are still top notch (although, I still prefer the older design for Freddy's scars and claw). I highly recommend New Nightmare if you're looking for a cool twist to a popular franchise that I feel actually works.