Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

I never was the kind to sleep light
but then I never had these kind of nights 
Something evil watching over me 
And I'm afraid this ain't no fantasy

- 213

Is it over?  Is it really over? Of course not, nothing is over (until it becomes unprofitable) so fans asked for it. And they got it.  But I'm kind of unsure what they got at this point.

I have to admit, I don't think I'd ever sat through this movie before, although I'd seen bits and pieces it never seemed to hold my interest. I'm glad I sat through it this time, but it still took a concerted effort. We start off with a nifty little dream sequence featuring a Freddy special effect gone terribly wrong and a rude awakening via an earthquake. There we meet the beautiful Heather Langenkamp playing herself, her husband Chase (David Newsome) and their little kid Dylan (Miko Hughes, the creepy child from Pet Semetary.) But all is not well in the household. Poor Heather is being stalked by someone leaving Freddy calls, and, as it turns out, Freddy himself may actually be real as the pages of a script for an upcoming Nightmare movie are, apparently, writing themselves.

New Nightmare was written and directed by Wes Craven and marks his return to the dead franchise. And it's obvious Wes loves the character that he created and that he wanted to bring NOES back to it's scary roots. I applaud that. Good for him. The issue I have is that this is a movie that takes itself seriously. No, wait....very seriously.  Extremely, extremely extremely seriously. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. More on that later.

First let's talk about Heather. She looks fabulous here and seems comfortable playing herself, but she isn't given a whole lot to do in the script. She starts out by worrying and fretting, continues to worry and fret and finally ends with her screaming a lot whilst worrying and fretting. I can understand this, as she seems to live in a place where earthquakes occur daily, and the original Nightmare on Elm Street plays on TV 24/7 but it would be nice to see her have a few happy family moments before all the craziness begins.

Apart from Heather we also get to see a couple of NOES actors playing themselves. There's John Saxon (who hasn't aged a day since the first movie), and of course Robert Englund, whose in a few small scenes, the most memorable being one where he's talking to Heather on the phone while painting a disturbing picture right out of a nightmare. Tuesday Knight from Part 4 and Nick Corri from the original also show up briefly during a funeral scene.

Well, what about Freddy? He looks...different. I mean, I know what the make-up people were going for.  And even though it's an uncredited Robert playing him here, he looks nothing like him. Which is good, the better to make Freddy a character completely separate from Robert Englund. I get it. But the make-up is just...bad. It's kind of like Jason 2.0 in Jason X. Sure it's modern, but that doesn't make it better. The green hat and trench coat have got to go. Freddy in leather pants is just plain wrong. And can you say "bone claws?" Sorry Wolverine, but it looks like Freddy stole your schtick. Oh Freddy, you were far more contemporary in a dirty green and red sweater and old fedora. Fire your stylist.

Oh, and the story. The premise is great, Freddy is becoming real, Heather is freaking out and somehow her child is involved. But how is the child involved? Sometimes it appears as though Freddy wants to possess the kid. Then others he's using the kid to get at Heather. And then there's a stuffed dinosaur that Dylan feels protects him. Oh and the kid is sleep-deprived, talking to himself and growling like Freddy. I don't know, none of it made much sense. And...then there's the kid. Well kudos to Miko for growing up and staying out of trouble, unlike most child actors. He looks great today and every bit as cute as he did back then. But back then, every time he plays scared or evil, you kind of want him to shut up. It's more annoying than terrifying.

Let's get back to the "serious" problem.  It's all well and good to want to make something less cheesy than the past ones. But this adds a whole lot of cheese on top of cheese that is in essence, humorless. Okay, Heather having to go through all these ordeals at once is somewhat believable and she handles it well. But her kid playing in traffic, while a gigantic animated claw dangles him is just plain stupid. As is the "looks like taffy" tongue wrapping itself around Heather/Nancy trying to kill her. And Freddy trying to "eat" Dylan is one of the worst special effects moments in the series. Yeah I said it. It's dumb. But it's played serious. Why?

There are little nods to the original. "Screw your hallpass!" and the babysitter death in the revolving room for example. But they have little to no impact except for the audience to say "Hey I remember that from the original" so they're pretty useless.

So this is the last one (not counting the remake).  Should you watch it? Sure, why not? If only to see Heather. But will you enjoy it?  Jury's out on that one. Your call.

And that concludes my canon-style review of the NOES series!
Oh wait. I forgot Freddy vs. Jason. 

Favorite Moments (may contain spoilers):
  • Wes Craven explaining to Heather that he wants her to play Nancy one last time. And the script that's writing itself to include their conversation.
  • It's nice to see Robert Englund as Robert Englund. I wish we could have seen more of him though.
  • John Saxon calling Heather, Nancy. And Heather realizing...she IS Nancy. And suddenly she's in her PJ's in front of Nancy's home. Creepy.
Fun Facts Kids!
  • Heather Langenkamp's real life husband is a special effects artist.
  • Miko Hughes still has the sewed up version of Rex.
  • The PJ's Heather wears and the jacket John Saxon wears when he becomes Nancy's dad were from the original movie. Wes Craven had kept them all those years.
  • The tongue phone scene used the same type of mechanism they used for the original tongue phone scene.
Agree? Disagree? Or just have a random string of curse words you'd like to share? Comment

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