Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: October 14, 1994
DIRECTOR: Wes Craven
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Mark Irwin
WRITER: Wes Craven
MUSIC: J. Peter Robinson
Despite the fact that New Line Cinema had killed Freddy Krueger off in the last film, fans were still asking for another film. Since the first film’s tenth anniversary was looming, New Line decided to ask original creator Wes Craven if he wanted to return to the series. Craven set about watching the films that had come out since the third film (the last one he had any involvement in) and he couldn’t find any strand of a story that he could continue.
That’s when Craven decided to revisit an idea that he had actually had way back when the third film was being developed. In “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare”, the movie is set in the “real world” where the “Nightmare” films have ended after “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”. Heather Langenkamp has been largely retired from acting, but she is trying to get back in the game and everyone is asking her if she’ll ever return to the franchise.
Meanwhile, director Wes Craven is indeed working on a new screenplay. When Heather visits him, he reveals that he has no choice but to write another movie. After he created the first film, an ancient evil that is trapped by storytelling was captured as Freddy Krueger. As long as the films were being made, the evil was contained.
Now that the films have ended, the genie is out of the bottle so to speak and wreaking havoc on the real world that it is trying to break back into. The biggest threat to this evil is Heather, the first person who gave Nancy her strength and vanquished the evil the first time around. As Wes states in the film, Heather must decide if she will play Nancy one last time in order to vanquish Freddy once and for all and protect her son that is being terrorized by this new evil.
This movie can be seen as a prototype of sorts due to the fact that this is the first time that Craven is trying to comment on the thing he created back in the 1980s that seemed to take on a life of its own. He would do this again two years later when he would start the “Scream” series. When I first watched this film back when it was released on video, I didn’t really care for it because to my 10-year-old brain, it didn’t feel like a true “Nightmare” film.
When I got older and revisited the movie, that’s when I realized that this movie is actually really good on its own and as an examination of the “Nightmare” series. The story is clever as far as sequels are concerned and the movie is anchored by great performances from both Langenkamp and Robert Englund, another actor who has to play both a fictionalized version of himself as well as the far more evil Freddy found in this movie.
I can understand why some fans don’t like this film because it “doesn’t fit” into the overall series. Still, if you can detach it from the main movies, you’ll find a horror movie that is way more clever than it has any right to be. This would be Craven’s final statement on the “Nightmare” series and it is a statement worth watching.