Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Movie Review: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare

After the box office flop that was Dream Child, New Line decided to give Freddy his last bow. By this time, Freddy has turned into a caricature. From the commercialized Dream Master to The underperformed Dream Child, It seems that the nightmare series was going downhill. Who's fault is it,  you may ask? Well ever since New Line became more substantial, they thought they can cash in on Freddy but the result of that turned him into a big fat joke. Needless to say, one of the producers thought they could chime in and direct the last feature film. And her name is Rachel Talay. I don't know if she was the sole reason of how Freddy became this burned out wisecracker but she did write, produce, AND directed this movie. So yeah, she was responsible.
So enough chit-chat, let's see what I think of this: Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Well, it's sad to say that Freddy Krueger, the man who traumatized half my childhood and made a name for himself by being this dark, weird figure, is now no scarier than a bunny rabbit. There are some fans of this movie since some don't mind the jokester Freddy but for me (and everyone else, I might add), It's an insult to the whole series. It has none of the intelligence or innovativeness that the series have.  Although, there are some cool moments of the movie, most of the time I felt like I was watching a bad, cheesy episode of Tales From The Crypt.
Okay, the plot is engaging enough (although, very ridiculous) but again, it's executed horribly. The thematical elements are strong such as child abuse, molestation, and being a child of a serial killer, yet it doesn't leave with much impact. It just felt out of place for a movie like this and I think these kinds of heavy topics would've been used much better in a more darker, deeper film.
And lastly, I didn't get the whole Freddy having a daughter, just didn't work for me. I always saw Freddy as this outcast weirdo, the creepy janitor who stalks his prey from afar. Him as a family man isn't much to convince. I just don't understand how they keep ret coning the long lost relatives into these slasher villains' histories. I just don't get it. There's more to come trust me.
I really don't have anything much to say, so let's move on shall we?
Here's the story: It's been ten years ( that's either 1999 or 2001, whatever how you see it) and Springwood, once an idyllic society, has almost turned into a ghost town since the murders of all the children and teens at the hands of Freddy Krueger. Only one teen remains and that is an amnesiac named John Doe, who is constantly suffering nightmares from the dream stalker. Once he sleepwalks his way to the streets of an unnamed city, he is soon under the care of Maggie Burroughs, a child psychologist. When John tells her of his ordeals, Maggie begins to piece the puzzles to her mysterious past and starts to have vivid dreams of her lost childhood. So, Maggie and John go back to Springwood to recharge his memory while keeping an eye on the troublesome trio from foster home, Tracy, Spencer, and Carlos. But once the mystery is solved, all hell breaks loose and Freddy is waiting for a long-lost relative to come home.....

The cast was decent enough, although the characterizations of the characters is left up to debate once their vulnerabilities are on display. It is used more as a gimmick rather than overall development. It just doesn't give us time to get attached to these characters.

Now let's get to Maggie. She is a bit underwritten but the filmmakers wanted to add mystery to her character but it just doesn't work for me. Once her mysterious backstory is revealed.....SPOILER ALERT! She's Freddy's daughter, it's not very effective and I wish it was handled much better but considering how bad the writing is, I wasn't expecting much. There's one thing to have a strong female character but then there's another way of developing that character and how the filmmakers developed Maggie is a bit shaky.

We see that she's a smart, capable woman at first but then by the climax, she suddenly gains excellent fighting moves but the film never gives time to establish that. There were times where she came off a bit cold and bitchy, which was hard for me to get attached to the character. Although, I think Lisa Zane is a decent actress, I wish she would convey more emotion, especially the flashback scenes. Usually it goes back and forth of how weak the character is written or how bland the actress comes off at times. To be fair, Lisa Zane is hit or miss,  however, Maggie is one of my least favorite of the nightmare heroines.

Doc, As I would like to call him, was a tad much better written character, even though, he's only this messiah type who spits out exposition but I did like the scenes where he put Maggie in her place when she gets all stubborn and defiant (I'm sorry, sometimes Maggie's superior , cocky attitude annoys me). He also seems to be an equivalent of Neil in Part 3 and he also uses his wits to defeat Freddy Krueger. He seems to be the brains of the operation and not Maggie.
Yaphet Kotto  does a fine performance on this movie and is one of the better actors. He takes the film seriously but it's a shame that the film don't take itself seriously.

John Doe played by Shon Greenbalt is hit or miss for the character and the actor. By the start of the film, John is introduced as the main character. As the movie goes on, we take interest in him since he is the last elm street teen and is trying uncover his past. Most of the time when he is investigating with Maggie, John begins to believe that he is Freddy's son, which is confusing since the two years before the lynch mob incident, which is around 1968 or 1969, would take place in 1966, which would make him at least in his thirties instead of his teens. But anywho, as the film goes on, this is where John's character development wears thin. Most of the time, it's just padding, him being trapped in the dream world and Freddy playing with his head.

And so you know it, he's dead. This is where the story falls short. We have gotten so interested in the character and wanting to know more about him and then, Boom!, it over, there's no revelation, nor any backstory, he's just a plot device. This sort of scenario was handled much better in Part 1 and Part 4 but in this, it's just a lame attempt of building John up as a decoy protagonist. Shon Greenbalt did an okay performance but the bad dialogue he has to work with, wavers him down a bit. If the script and character was better written, his acting would've been a lot stronger.

Tracy, played by Lezlie Dane was, to be honest, really annoying to me. Throughout the movie, she yells and screams, always looking for a fight, and jumps around like she's on pep pills. But then our sympathies are with her when it's revealed that she was sexually abused by her father. I wish they could've handled this a lot better since this only used for Freddy to highlight her fears and insecurities. And it's kind of uncomfortable to use a such a heavy subject in a so-called horror-comedy but the revelation gives us more character development, giving us a reason why she has such a tough exterior. Lezlie Dane is a good enough actress but again if the character was written better, we would've been invested in her more.

Carlos is shown to be a comic relief among the three kids. Not much development  on him but at least the actor is charismatic. His revelation, unfortunately, is not taken seriously as Tracy's. When has suffered abuse from his mother who has rendered him deaf in the ear. This time the dream sequence is played for laughs rather than drama. Again, it just doesn't feel right to use a subject like this for comedy unless the filmmakers are trying to be crude about it. But anywho, although Carlos isn't the prominent character of the movie, he still is the most memorable.

Spencer, played by Brekckin Meyer in his first role, is a well-known slasher stereotype: The Stoner. Now I never thought a character like this would end up in a nightmare movie but it's interesting since that type of character would be in some sort psychosis, which Spencer ended up in. He does have a subplot at least. He has an emotionally distant and demeaning father, which is why he is so dependent on drugs and mindless video games. Again, there's nothing to say about Spencer, only is that he is a stoner and that's what gets him killed. And trust me, it's probably the most ridiculous death scene I've seen a horror movie.

This movie has made Freddy into a big, huge joke and I'm not going to hold back.

Once I saw him flying on a broomstick, I was like wow, this was the same guy who scarred half my childhood and now he's some burned out comedian with lame one-liners. He is the absolute worst in this movie and probably the most annoying character by far.
So basically he kills all the kids and teenagers of Springwood, which was a pretty weak plot point, it leaves him with no motivation or plan to back up whatsoever. But oh wait, he does have a motive. He wants, in fact......World Domination! Because every town has an elm street! The producers are just making him more and more into a hammy cartoon villain and this film takes the cake. The backstory was the only, at least, interesting aspect of the movie. It goes from his childhood to his adult life to his "death." But it never dwells deep into enough to keep us invested and to be honest, the television show handled the backstory much better. They also seem to retcon his reason for kidnapping and killing the town children. His reason behind is that since the townspeople took away his daughter, he'll take their children as well. It just seems clunky and it's like the film is trying to paint Freddy as sympathetic when he is ABSOLUTELY not.

Okay what was with the Dream Worm Demon creatures being in control of Freddy's powers? it just doesn't make sense. Who's idea was to even add that in there? You see this raises a lot of questions because all this time, I thought Freddy always stood alone when it came to using his dream powers but apparently it was the Dream Demons all along. How F-ing stupid! and the special effects on the creatures are pretty lackluster and cheap. is this a muppets movie? Furthermore, that should've explained this in the earlier movies but the concept STILL would've been hilariously ridiculous.

And one more thing, Freddy's makeup looks like chewed up bubblegum. Definitely his worst makeup. Where is Kevin Yahger when you need him?

Now, the directing is okay. It definitely has that dream-like quality like in the early nightmare films but it still feels like I'm watching an overly long TV episode. One thing that bothered me though, was how Rachel Talay wanted to have the same humor of the show Twin Peaks, which was popular at the time. The point of that show's humor came from the quirkiness of it's characters yet still had very dark undertones. The humor in Freddy's Dead is nowhere near that. It is a full-on live action cartoon and it's just unbelievably tepid. And trying to establish the quirkiness or weirdness of the adults of Springwood is over-the-top with bad acting. It's like they're ripping off the show rather than paying homage to it.

Okay, I will admit the special effects are cool but this time it is used for humor than horror. Soon in time the special effects begin to falter as it dwells deep into cartoonish buffoonery.

Most people say that Carlos's death is the best but then again it's still seem like I'm watching a Looney Tunes Show.

From Spencer's Death By Nintendo Glove

To John Doe landing on spikes, none of the scenes had any tension or suspense and none of it is any worth praising about.
Trivia Time! Peter Jackson once tried to pin a script, a draft called Dream Lover, which indeed was a much interesting script than this but decided to go with screenwriter Michael De Luca and Rachel Talay. Bummer. The concept would've involved a more weaker, vulnerable Freddy and this would've worked much better to see that side of Freddy but oh well, it is what it is.
There was also another script involving a grown up Jacob Johnson (from Part 5) and the dream police which consists of the fallen dream warriors: Taryn, Kincaid, and Joey. I read the script and trust me, it's as cheesy as it's sounds.
And here's my little Trivia moment. This movie was released on September 13th, which is my birthday and in the opening scene it references The Wizard Of Oz, which was my favorite movie as a kid. So you have a horror villain that scared me most of my childhood, a movie that I cherished during my childhood, and then it all comes together on my birthday. Isn't that a coincidence?
The movie was successful enough but I'm thinking pretty much got tired of it and it went down quickly.
This is a disappointment. I mean a huge downfall to the quality of what the films should've been. This is why you shouldn't let a producer, especially an executive from a Major Motion Picture Company, take over a faltering movie series. What was once a potential horror franchise with a clever and scary concept is derived with over-the-top special effects, lazy writing, and a killer that just won't shut up.

And I forgot to mention, what was with the 3D effects? see that's exactly what I'm talking about! There was just no reason for it. Rachel Talay would later direct Tank Girl, a movie that was supposed to be serious in tone but turned out to be a goofy mess just like this movie.
This definitely put a nail in the coffin for the series and Wes Craven was deeply embarrassed, eventually turning the franchise around in his next movie.
Surely, the worst nightmare. Period.
My Last Word: It's your choice. If you like it, good for you. If you don't, thanks.



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