This is, hands down, the best nightmare on elm street sequel. Good story, great characters, and awesome special effects. This is the most distinctive, true sequel to the nightmare franchise and it's also the start of the dream saga, with the two sequels after it. What the filmmakers did right this time was bring back elements that made the first movie for what it was: Heather Langenkamp, John Saxton, and most definitely Wes Craven, though this time around, as a writer. The dreams are more surreal and visceral, adding a more twisted fantasyland to the atmosphere. The most interesting aspect of the movie is how they use suicide as a metaphor. It's a deep dark subject for many teens and to use that in a horror film is pretty ballsy. But this is when the series transitioned towards fantasy instead of psychological. Not that it's a bad thing but by the second half, it felt like I was watching Justice League or something. Though, I still do think this is the best and memorable of the sequels.
Here's the story: Kristen Parker has been having really bad dreams. She tries to reach out to her mother for comfort but to no avail. Once her dreams get much more vivid, it gets worse. The man that his haunting her dreams is, none other than, Freddy Krueger, a vengeful ghost who haunts upon elm street. Freddy attacks her, resulting a cut on her wrists, making it look like an attempted suicide. So Kristen's mom sends her to a westin hills, a mental institution where kids her age seems to be suffering from the same problem. They all seem to be plagued by Freddy Krueger. So with the help of Nancy Thompson, who was a former victim of Freddy and who is now a counselor, the kids come to stop Freddy from taking their lives and mostly, their souls.
The acting was very good. You really get a sense that the cast had a genuine connection with each other. Especially to their characters, who are able to fleshed them out more, making them real people who we care about.
Patricia Arquette was just supreme. She really tapped into the emotional state of the character and brought a bit of sadness and yearning just by the look in her eyes. There was something more that Patricia brought into the role, that we immediately cared about the character and her struggles.
Kristen is special , much different than Nancy or Lisa. You see, she has a special power where she pulls people into her dreams, which is a pretty interesting concept for a Final Girl. Like many heroines in the Nightmare Movies, she comes from a broken home. Her parents are divorced and she is under the care of her neglectful, selfish bitch of a mother( which I'll comment on later). She has the same tragedies as Tina, feeling vulnerable and alone where she has no where to turn to. This is easy prey for Freddy, who uses his victims' fears as weakness. Once Nancy comes in as a savior, she is the sister or mother she never had, so this prevents Freddy from striking any further. And by the help of her new allies, she is no longer weak. She is able to fight back and not hold back by her fears. Kristen is an interesting and profound addition to the nightmare final girls.
Which leads us to the first and original of the nightmare final girls, Nancy Thompson. Unfortunately, just like Tommy Jarvis in Jason Lives, Nancy isn't particularly the best written character in this. She just so underused and so.....boring. Nancy is supposedly in her twenties, but they try to make her look older, which doesn't work. I wish They wouldn't have been afraid to make her more hip and relatable. In the script, Nancy was more abrasive, more rebellious, and was willing to take risks to save these kids' lives. Unfortunately due to rewrites, her character comes off bland.
Heather Lagenkamp is good in this but there was other times where she comes off a bit stiff. I wish she would've put more emotion into the role. Even Heather Lagenkamp said in an interview that she felt she didn't quite connect to the character like she use to. Although, she is not the main aurora of the movie, she is still the driving force none the less.
The character of Neil is the most remembered in this movie. At first, he's a bit skeptical like most of these adults are In the series, but you genuinely see that he cares about the kids and once he gets into the action, he ends up being the movie's primary hero.
Along for the ride is Donald Thompson, who seems to be an important part in the series and the one who created Freddy. In this one, he is a bitter drunk who seem to have lost it all, still suffering from the mental scars that Freddy has planted.
And just to squeeze this in here, Elaine Parker is one of the most flawed and unsympathetic of the adults. She is frequently ignoring her daughter then after she finds Kristen slitting her wrists, she thinks she's doing it for attention. By far the most loathed character on my list. And did I mention she is a whore?
And here are the dream warriors but first let's get to my favorites, shall we?
Taryn is probably one of my favorite characters of the movie. it dwells deep into her struggles, going through detox, getting her life together, and fighting off Freddy Krueger. She also has one of the best lines of the movie.
"I dream that I'm Beautiful and Bad." Along with a classic 80's punk look.
Unfortunately, Taryn gets the sharp end of Freddy's finger knifes or should I say heroin needles. It's kind of sad and shocking to see her go because she is by far the best character in the movie.
Will may not be memorable as Taryn but he is still a sympathetic character, who has one of the coolest moments of the film when he turns into a Harry Potter clone before when Harry Potter was even around. I guess this is where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration.
Sadly though, his mystical powers are no match for the dream demon Freddy.
Kincaid is sort of a love or hate it character. He can be a bit obnoxious at first but he becomes a major badass in the end.
And again, he has one of the best lines in the movie.
Then there is Joey, the mute boy who Freddy holds as prisoner later in the film. There's not much to say about Joey, only that he has a crush on the hot young nurse, which is ultimately how Freddy captures him.
And can I say that he is such a cutie?
Oh my gosh, the special effects are just amazing. First, there is the Freddy worm, The roasted pig, and Freddy's hell world.
But the most memorable is Phillip's demise. When I first saw this, it totally freaked me out. I mean you have somebody's veins pulled up like marionette strings.
It's really gruesome.
But the one that totally scared me was Jennifer's death.
It was just so unexpected and sudden and it was still at the time where I was scared shitless of Freddy Krueger.
Speaking of, He has a lot more personality than in the first two films. He also seems to have more screen time. Whether that's good thing or a bad thing, It's debatable. But on top of this, Freddy probably has one of the best lines, including this:
But just to be clear, the appeal of Freddy was not to turn him into a comedian like he will eventually turn out to be, though the point of it was to not laugh at the joke or punch line. Freddy is known for his sick sense of humor and sometimes it's more uncomfortable than funny. This where it works. It's a balance of terrifying and funny. There is also a backstory to explain why he is the way he is. And the result of it all, is much more horrible than you can imagine.
This was possibly the biggest box office opener of the Nightmare franchise, though not until the next film, that the franchise will gain even more momentum at the box office.
Now on to the trivia. The movie went through at least three different script re-writes before the shooting script. Wes Craven's original idea for the third movie was to bring back the cast of the first Nightmare and based the script on real life, while the cast is being haunted by Freddy. Which will later turn into New Nightmare.
This was the most grueling and exhausting of the sequels the cast and crew had to work on with all the special effects and claustrophobic of the overpowering sets.
The movie was banned in Queensland, Australia because of the drug references and also the scene where Freddy kills one of the victims by pumping various heroin shots on his fingers and into her.
This was slated to be the last sequel, which, in my opinion, would've been a decent finale for the series. But since this was going to kick start a franchise, another sequel was in the works.
This is one of my all-time favorite sequels of the Nightmare franchise. Along with a great story, a great cast, and a great soundtrack, this is one of the best.
My last word: A fun rollercoaster ride of thrills and chills.