When making a sequel to a movie as good as "A Nightmare On Elm Street" you have to come up with something clever. If you try to recapture the thing that made the original so good again, most likely you will fail. Thusly, "A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" (which will just be referred to by its subtitle from now on) takes Freddy on a different path...to very mixed results.
Fred Kruger is pure evil. We've established that already with the first one. That means he requires a healthy dose of fear from the children of Elm Street (or anyone I suppose) to continue to exist. But five years ago, Nancy ruined that. No one really remembers him now. But he's hatched a brand new plan, involving the new teenager that just moved into Nancy's old house, Jesse. He's going to use Jesse to start killing again so he can be brought into the real world once again to continue his slaughter of children. Now its up to Jesse, his pseudo girlfriend, and his friend Grady to put an end to Freddy once and for all (again).
Just from the synopsis I'm sure that you can tell why this film has received such negative reception. Freddy doesn't really kill in dreams in this one. Which somewhat defeats the entire ideology behind Mr. Kruger. I fully understand the issues most fans have with this concept, but I must be a little more forgiving than most since I actually think the idea is fairly inspired. It does take a new path with the villain and concept but I think it could have worked quite well. Could have. If they had thought it through a bit more.
The problem with this film rests in its continuity within its own concept. Had they tried to simplify the story and focused on the idea that Freddy was using Jesse to kill in the real world vicariously through his dreams instead of trying to recreate that blurring of dream and reality (which although leads to some very awesome visuals at times rarely works on an intellectual level) then it would have worked. For example, why is Freddy able to manipulate objects in the real world (jump ropes, toasters) to kill victims when they are not dreaming? Is it just how Jesse 'sees' them in his sleepwalking state? Its not properly explained enough and really doesn't make sense. Then of course the idea that Jesse can actually TURN INTO Kruger towards the end and vice versa (looks, clothes, everything) doesn't make sense either. It would have been better had they made it a mental possession story rather than a physical morph story.
Visually the film has some nice moments thanks to a slightly better budget than the first and has some great moments. The entire pool party bust is pretty exciting and crazy to watch (although again doesn't really make sense when one thinks about it) and there is some great acting to boot with it especially from our torn hero Jesse. On these aspects the film works well with one exception - read on to my bonus rant to find out more.
One aspect of this film I do enjoy is its odd and sometimes contorted social/psychological commentary on homosexuality. Its been argued even by its makers (Englund and the writer both state that the commentary was always there where as director Sholder and producer Shaye claim to not know about it at the time of making) whether it was intentional. Personally, I think its a rather prevalent issue brought about in the film - particularly in the 80s - that adds a nice layer that most may not catch. Next time you watch it, think about it with this kind of mindset and think about whether you agree.
Overall, "Freddy's Revenge" is not a great film but I also believe it to be rather underrated too. Some nice visuals and solid acting give a rather confusing concept a little weight. I also appreciate that Freddy still remains a darker figure of evil rather than the slapstick comedian he is about to become in later entries. Not the best, but respect goes for treading some new ground for the film and adding in some nice layers here and there.
BONUS RANT: Honestly, I'm not sure why the fuck the animals in this film are so random and completely fucked up. Birds explode randomly, dogs have random baby masks on, and even the monster rat that's eating by the demon cat in the abandoned plant seem completely out of place. I'm not sure what the writer and director had in mind with all of this random animal violence and visual shenanigans but it will leave you throwing your drink at the TV in utter disbelief more than once. It's hard not to laugh at those moments and their randomness rather than be disturbed or scared by them. The entire bird sequence seems better fitted for a comedy rather than this kind of Horror film.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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