Continuing my journey through watching the entire A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, I am once again reminded of how bad sequels can be. Yes, the fourth instalment, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master isn’t as terrible as the horrendous first sequel A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, but it does feel like a letdown compared to how much I liked the third (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors).
This is again probably because people like Wes Craven and Frank Darabont had a large part in what I liked about Dream Warriors but once again they have been removed and instead we get a slightly better rehash of what the second installment was.
My main issue here is that although they removed most of the cheesy humor from the second, the horror aspects weren’t really scary and were more just kind of dumb. Yes, I’m glad they continued the storyline of Dream Warriors, even though they replaced the actress playing the lead (which was somewhat distracting), but the expanding of the mythology stopped there. It was just taking the characters left over from the third and placing them in silly “scary” scenarios but that’s it. In fact, they’re not even around long enough for me to talk about so what the hell?
Even when we’re introduced to the title of the film and this concept of “a dream master”, it’s never really explained or dived into too much depth. We’re just left with horror set piece after horror set piece and none of them are particularly frightening though the SFX is once again great.
Likable characters were also killed off quickly and the reactions to those deaths by the others didn’t really help progress the scenarios in any intelligent way. They were just simple dumb responses. One person was being stubbornly naïve and ignorant, which was something I’ve already seen a thousand times before. None of them had any real meaningful plans once again to fight off Freddy Kreuger and the way the entire climax resolves itself is just so dumb. Seems like there wasn’t any smart writing at all in this film and the more I watched the more this became painstakingly clear.
Again, it’s still not as bad as the second because there are some good aspects. Certain elements about Freddy came to light which I really dug but only happened towards the end. I also did enjoy the fact that most (I stress the word ‘most’ minus that aforementioned ignorant person) characters believed in what was going on to their friends and the fact that they had a brother to the protagonist was probably the “smartest” choice they did with the writing. Because as the main character is freaking out, you’d be more so inclined to send her to a psychiatric ward with what she’s telling you about her horrifying and almost delirious-like dreams. But now I know that you’re her brother, I can see why you’d be championing her beliefs and how you believe her story more so than how others would judge her. It’s subtle but I like it.
At the end of the day, I’d probably say you could skip this film if you were watching the series but if you did end up watching it, you wouldn’t be having the worst time. It’s an average film at best that has perhaps a couple interesting and somewhat scary scenes but not much else. I’m hoping that the rest of the series will pick up where the third one left off and I know that Wes Craven does return later on to direct again so I’m excited for that given it should be much better than everything so far. But I’m going to take my words with a grain of salt and plan for the worst. See you in the later reviews.