Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Movie Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street: Dream Child

After the success of Dream Master, Freddy Krueger had turned into a pop culture icon. He had his own television show, his own costume line, his own plush doll, his own lunchbox. He was definitely turning into one of those cereal box mascots. Heck, it wouldn't be surprising if he had his own cereal box. It was that out of control So the filmmakers decided to bring back the darker, edgier atmosphere of the early nightmare films. It's a quick attempt since the movie was made just a year after it's predecessor. The result: it's way much campier than part 4 and it's not even good, cheesy camp.
Okay, I did like that they bring back the thematical elements of the first three films. The first film was about teen angst/stress, the second was about teen homosexuality, and the third was about teen suicide. This time around it's about teen pregnancy. The story was good to follow but it was poorly executed. To have a serious subject like teen pregnancy is a pretty risky choice, especially for a teen audience who is looking to see a slasher bloodfest. There are some good points to the movie. I thought the opening dream sequence was kind of creepy and unsettling and then there's the Westin Hills scene of Freddy's birth which was totally something out of House On Haunted Hill(1999 version). But once Freddy is introduced that's when everything falls apart. Not to mention the over-the-top hokey death scenes. Most of the time, It felt like I was watching a Goosebumps episode. The elaborate special effects doesn't really save the movie this time around and it only makes it more cheesy.
It could've worked better if it had been more psychological but apparently what we end up with is insipid and uninspired.
Here's The Story: After the events of Dream Master, Alice and Dan finally make love for the first time. But unexpectedly, Alice develops a bun in the oven, which unfortunately, conjures up Freddy Krueger from his grave, invading her unborn child's dreams. Now graduating from high school and dealing with the struggles of teen pregnancy, Alice must stop Freddy from preying on her friends and mostly from possessing her baby.

With the exception of the main lead, like the cast in Jason Takes Manhattan, the cast in this is very mediocre. Considering most of the focus is on Alice, there's barely any development on the minimal cast of characters, along with acting, it's just meh.

Lisa Wilcox is the only saving grace in this movie. She gives quite an emotionally-charged performance blending in with Alice's vulnerability and strength. It's a shame the film is not taken seriously enough to match the emotional state of Alice. Speaking of the character of Alice, she may be not as better written in the last movie but she is still a strong female character I love to admire. The one flaw I see in Alice is how she burst out expository about Freddy Krueger, when in fact, nobody would believe her. I understand she might be under the stress of pregnancy and she's in a vulnerable position, but the writers make her come off like a crazy person and the Alice I know would be middle ground on the situation, trying to keep herself sane and saving the day at the same time.

Dan, unfortunately, is still the most underdeveloped out of all the cast. There is a little establishment on him, mainly about his parents pressing him to get a football scholarship. That's basically it and once we have more development on the character, he gets killed off abruptly. The only interesting thing about him is his death scene.

Greta is the typical beauty queen who is under the constant demands of her overbearing mother who wants her to achieve in the fashion world. That's pretty much all we know about Greta. Most of the film focuses on how beautiful she is and just doesn't make her much of a character but at least the actress is charismatic.

Mark is the typical nerd who is obsessed with comic books and is an avid skateboarder, who has a total crush on glamour queen Greta. That's pretty much all we know about him. Although he tags along in the action with Alice, but there's nothing really interesting about him. But I would say he is totally cute!

And last, there is Yvonne who seems to be the more mature and, quite frankly, the most honest of the group when she tells Alice how she feels. Half of the film, she is quite skeptical of the whole situation until her encounter with Freddy. And you know what, she lives! Although, I think she is at least the most interesting of the cast, I was a little thrown off by her Jacuzzi joke at what seems to be an emotional moment.

The person who has the most development is Alice's father, who actually grown (unlike Elaine Parker) from the events of the last film and starts to kick the habit and get his life back on track.

Oh Freddy. Oh Freddy, Freddy, Freddy. I barely don't have any words to describe how hammy he is in this movie. I wouldn't want to say he's the worst thing in this movie because Robert England seems to be having fun in his role but otherwise I have to say it because of how much he comes off like a campy superhero villain. He seems to be more align to his TV Show personality than the dark, twisted killer he was in the first movie. The producers tried to bring back that aspect of Freddy but it was a point of no return. The one-liners were getting pretty irritating as to where I just shout at the screen and said "Shut up, Freddy!" In Dream Master, It wasn't as bad, but in this it got totally overboard.

Freddy's makeup in this is terrible. It doesn't come close to the awesome aesthetic of Kevin Yahger's makeup. I mean he looks like a sad, demented clown. The whole basic plot of Freddy trying to invade Alice's baby's dreams and posses him was just stupid idea to me. What he's doing is getting the souls he's just harvested and implanting it into the fetus, which is beyond logic if you ask me.
Now to the directing and special effects. Furthermore, the tone is all over the place.


First, the gothic atmosphere was, in fact, creepy and the first few scenes, especially the opening dream sequence was intense. But just as Freddy arrive, things instantly gets goofy and the atmosphere isn't taken seriously anymore.

It's a shame because Stephen Hopskins is a really good director, giving off this avant-garde vibe, which fits perfectly with the dream sequences. Nowadays, Mr. Hopskins has had a more successful career and escaped this movie unscathed.

The death scenes are incredibly cheesy and over the top. It was to the point where it was a bunch of scenes. There was no suspense, no tension, and I just got exhausted. It was too elaborate for it's own good. One of them, I actually like.

And that's Dan's. Like Debbie's death scene in part 4, it's quite cringeworthy, especially when a person mutate into something, this time into a motorcycle cyborg. When I first watched this, it freaked me out and it was so cool to watch. Just see the clip for yourself:

As for the rest of the death scenes, it was just plain silly to watch....

Now on to the trivia. Stephen King and Frank Miller were set to writing and directing this movie, but refused. There was one draft where it featured a character trapped in a place called the coma pit while trying to escape from Freddy which was conceived by splatterpunk writers John Skip and Craig Spector. It would've been way much better and interesting movie  than this one. This was a production mess and I'm not going to hold back. There were last minute rewrites, the crew building sets while filming, there was also a heatwave melting the glass windows, which were made of candy, of the climatic scene. Stephen Hopskins were given 4 weeks of filming and 4 weeks of editing. Talk about stressful and given the final result of the movie, it was probably total hell to go through.
The movie was a box office flop, especially compared to the highly successful Dream Master.
This is possibly the weakest of the nightmare films. The biggest problem of this is it doesn't know what movie it wants to be. The tone is all over the place, the special effects overshadow the movie rather than save it, and Freddy is just plain annoying now.
My last word: It's watchable enough but if you're a nightmare fan, you'll be surely disappointed.


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