Craven comes back but the result is…ok-ish?
Coming into this, I was excited. Wes Craven returns to not only write but direct another A Nightmare On Elm Street film. What?! And it’s meant to be more true to his original vision of how he saw Freddy Krueger from the first film. Oh shit, this is going to be good!
But perhaps my expectations were set too high because the experience left me feeling very underwhelmed. Technically everything was great and was something that I expected given it is Wes Craven. I enjoyed the thematically horror-like scores, the overall direction and even the character design of Freddy. I still prefer the version that I’ve come to know and love from the original but at least Craven’s new look for the character was exactly what he was going for. It was meant to be more akin to that of a demon-like creature from hell and not some childishly burnt up Groundskeeper Willie look-alike. Which was all different and therefore nice to see a change because any change for me is refreshing and particularly enjoyable when it’s done well and with purpose.
But what ultimately makes a film for me is its story. Without a good story, the chances I like your film will quickly diminish because essentially, a film is only as good as its story. And the story here was fairly lackluster.
Without giving too much away, the plot is almost entirely meta-like. Although normally I’m a fan of films that use their self-awareness in a creative way, I believe that Wes Craven may have gone overboard with this concept. Almost every scene I watched was hammering this overtly clear message that it was meta-like in nature and I quickly became sick of it. I get that it is also intended to be scary but I’m sorry Wes Craven, it just felt like way too much and the horror elements weren’t anything that I hadn’t seen before in the previous films.
At least the way people died in the previous sequels explored some sort of interesting scenario compared to what I saw in A New Nightmare. Which is so surprising because Wes Craven co-wrote my favorite sequel in the series, A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: The Dream Master but I felt this film was written and directed by someone entirely different as it’s nothing like The Dream Master. A New Nightmare feels so tame and unimaginative compared to the whole franchise and perhaps this has got to do with the fact that the horror is meant to be coming into reality, as is the story’s main narrative concept.
But reality is so much more boring than the nightmare scenarios I’ve grown to love so why was this a decision that had to be made? Why Wes Craven? I wanted so much more but everything just felt so flat.
At the end of the day, I’m only going to recommend you see this if, like me, you’ve invested time into the franchise and have reached the now sixth sequel in the series. Because only faithful fans will probably enjoy this and I’m even reluctant to say I liked it as much as I did because the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to feel indifferent about it. Maybe the meta-like feel of the film might be for you but for this reviewer, it didn’t bring much in terms of the scare factor which ultimately makes me say, see it if you really want to, but you’ve officially been warned.