Monday, May 24, 2010

Wes Craven's New Nightmare - 3.5/5

Hold on for one moment. So this seventh entry to the "Nightmare" series so much isn't a sequel as much as it is a spin off taking the series in a whole new direction. Nowadays they call it a reboot, but needless to say that "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is easily one of the best in a series that already dug itself a grave. It's smart, it trends back to the darkness and issues that the original one dealt with, and its pretty unique.

Heather Lagenkamp (who played Nancy in the first film) portrays herself in this film as she tries to live on with her life with her husband and son. She still is recognized as 'the girl in that movie with the guy and the claws' and constantly tries to move from its shadow. But Wes Craven is writing a new script based on his nightmares. And these nightmares are coming true. Soon Heather is going to have to face Freddy again...this time in the real world to save her son.

Originally this story was pitched to New Line Cinema back in place of the third film but was rejected. Since technically Freddy is now dead at this point, it seemed like as good of time as any to pull out this pseudo spin off sequel to the world. Luckily, Craven does a smart job with the story and brings it back to what made the original (and third one) the best. Its dark, its actually scary at times, and its fairly intelligent. It makes a mockery at what the series had become and in doing so was both able to fix the wrongs and create a unique film experience that would obviously later influence other Craven projects like "Scream".

Of course, "New Nightmare" is still far from perfect as it tends to be still a bit too over the top for me. Freddy's new look might be a nice update, but the organic claw glove doesn't quite seem as foreboding as his old one and his overstylized burns tend to make him seem even more fake. It did dawn on me during this film that perhaps that was intent of the look (at one point its loosely explained by Craven that this new Freddy is an ancient evil that wants replicate the Freddy experience since he no longer fed on the fear through the films) but it still just doesn't quite sit with me as well. The film also tends to tough on some great concepts like how Horror films are viewed by society, their effects on the mind, and even how evil can easily translate from one reality to the next, but rarely does the film seem as edgy as it could have been. I almost wanted it to be more violent, more dark, and more sinister to match that atmosphere the original had only magnified to a modern audience. But rarely does the film actually go there (the scene of Julie's demise that's stolen from the first film strikes some of those chimes nicely) despite some hints at its directional choice.

With some great cameos from actors and actresses and crew from many of the films, this one is definitely for the die hards for the series. It homages the original one in its glory nicely and adds enough originality and darkness back into the franchise to make it a solid watch. Definitely a nice way to 'end' the series.

BONUS RANT: Wes Craven was supposedly too chicken to ask Johnny Depp to make an appearance in the film (he originally made his film debut in the first film) even though later on Depp said he would have gladly done it. Shit. Depp did a cameo in the sixth fucking entry why the hell wouldn't he have done this one?! His presence would have been a nice cap to the script and film as he is still one of the most memorable characters from the entire series. Shame on your pride Craven! For shame! 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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