Okay, Freddy now tells jokes in poor taste. It might actually make the movie somehow more R-Rated than just the murdering kids with knife hands bit. "Aw, but Freddy was a cultural icon," you might say. "I grew up on Freddy!" Have you seen the state of the nation? I blame Freddy Krueger. Hard R.
DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin
I don't actually think that Freddy Krueger is responsible for the state of the nation right now. I'd love if I solved the root of a complex political climate by saying that Xennials watched too much Freddy. That's not the case. Please note: out of all of the images I've had in the reviews for the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, this is the first one to actually have Freddy on it. (In the New Nightmare review, you have Robert Englund dressed as Freddy in silhouette. That technically doesn't count.) I wanted to show this image because this is where the movies get really off base. There might not have been the best base to start with, but Freddy eating soul pizza might be a very telling moment about where the franchise is at this point.
I might have to Wikipedia this one because it is super forgetable, considering I just watched this one two or three days ago. (It is so forgetable I now forget my timeline of when I watched this movie outside of the fact that it was very recently.) I'm a Die Hard 2: Die Harder apologist. I really like it. At least, I used to. I watched it over and over again for a long time, but it's been a while since I've revisited it. My wife didn't love the first Die Hard movie and I don't think she's going to jump on board the less famous sequel out of the blue. But Renny Harlin directed that one and when I saw that Harlin had directed Part 4 of the franchise, I was going to give this movie the benefit of the doubt. Yeah, Die Hard 2 is very flawed, but for a sequel, it hits a lot of beats where they should be hit. I thought that this movie would at least be pretty fun. Yeah, I might have asked for the wrong thing. This movie tries really hard to be fun, but that really detracts from the fundamentals of what the story is trying to tell. I keep teasing that I hate a jokey Freddy and a lot of that is that Freddy's jokes are not funny. In fact, they are super uncomfortable. I think the B-word in today's society might be more scarring than the F-Word. The f-word, unfortunately I guess, can have a very casual feel to it in certain context. I suppose the b-word also does as well. But the way Freddy is using it? That seems super hateful and sexist. I know, I'm mad a child murderer for being a little bit sexist. But the one thing about other horror movie serial killers is that they are about the scares, not the spitting on the corpse. (Although Jason with that sleeping bag? Geez...) Perhaps I've been too brainwashed or maybe I'm just the right level of woke to realize that there's nothing fun about a movie when Freddy is just playing up his sexual assault. It's weird and uncomfortable and it is so far away from the original premise of a creepy boogeyman stalking teenagers in their sleep. When the movie's jokes aren't all sexual, the rest of it really plays like Adam West's Batman camp. That kind of works for Batman on a certain degree because he isn't murdering kids. But there's a sequence, and it might be the most bizarre of the entire franchise so please get ready, where Freddy murders a kid who is ninja training. The kid is punching the air and beating up an invisible Freddy. That sequence exists in this movie. That's not good. That's not scary. That's just stupid.
Part of the logic of making a movie fun is great. The next movie I'm reviewing is the Nightmare reboot (I know, it's not my promised order. Life happens. And when I say "life", I mean "lack of proper social interaction") and that movie is not fun. The philosophy is great. But by just saying that a movie is going to be more fun than its predecessors doesn't make it better than its predecessors. To execute comedy, everything has to be really well planned and really well executed. By saying a movie has to be more fun than its previous films is actually a really tall order. I hate to turn back to the Batman well, but A Nightmare on Elm Street kind of shares a parallel with the Joel Schumacher Batman films. Yes, those movies are technically more fun than the Burton entries in the franchise, but they are far from better. That element of fun was like my kids decided what goes on a cake. A little bit of frosting judiciously placed on a dessert makes it way better. Throwing a pound of sugar and gummy worms and cotton candy on a cake makes it a saccharine mess. It's still a cake and I suppose that A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 is still an entry in the franchise. But it's just too much of everything. That kind of goes with the Fangoria horror as well. There's a sequence where a character turns into a cockroach. There was no reason for her to turn into a cockroach. I don't remember her really being into "The Metamorphosis." The creature effects guys just kind of did it. It was the grossest thing that they could think of and they managed to pull it off. But it also really didn't fit the narrative.
I'm not sure if I talked about this in another entry, but how powerful is Freddy in dreams? There are times where he is chasing kids around a house and stumbling over stuff. They fight back and he gets completely wrecked before they wake up. There are other times where he can literally change the nature of reality and turn people into cockroaches remotely. He then changes perspective and everyone's in a roach motel, which he squashes. I think Freddy might be the ultimate villain of convenience. Whatever works to scare an audience or serve the narrative is what Freddy can do. Also, how do all the kids' plans to stop Freddy kind of work? I know that if I was being plagued by Freddy nightmares, I would be completely stymied. I have no idea how to take out a serial killer who haunts my dreams. But all of their plans to take him out kind of work. They at least work temporarily and they work better than they should. This kind of leads me to the most confusing element of the franchise: the introduction of Alice. Alice is this overpowered teenager who is the chosen one. I complained about this in my Nightmare on Elm Street 3 review, I think. Alice just has abilities that no one else has. The story gets so supernatural and occulty that it misses the mark of the relatability of any of these characters. Right now, Doctor Strange fits in the narrative better than Alice does. (Also, what is it with the name "Alice" and making her the chosen one. I'm sure it is all a veiled tie to Alice in Wonderland, but come on. Everyone is making the same allusion. At least the Nightmare series and the Resident Evil series are.) I don't like the fact that she can just do these things. I'm sure that Part 5 or 6 will try to give some hamfisted explanation for all the things that she can do, but it definitely seems like she's a bit of a Mary Sue.
The biggest problem that the movie has is the same problem that Alien 3 has. It murders what little goodwill that the previous movie provides. (Pun intended.) Both Aliens and Dream Warriors establishes a set of heroes who make certain sacrifices to save others only to have those characters killed off unceremoniously. The purpose of this is that they don't want these characters in the franchise anymore and to establish that the new threat trumps the previous threat. But why invest in characters at all if they are just going to be dispatched without an effort. For example, one of the kids from Dream Warriors overcomes his fear of speaking to defeat Freddy. As stupid as that is, it is a major internal conflict that he overcomes. Who cares, because he's killed in the first half hour of the next movie without even getting a chance to defend himself? Even Kristen, who was really overpowered in the previous movie, barely puts up a fight against Freddy in this one. On top of that, Freddy's mission statement has completely changed. In probably the most believable element added to this franchise, the Elm Street kids are dead. (So, um...Freddy won?) I guess this means that he just has to kill all kids. That's problematic in itself. I don't know how Alice really vets Freddy's murders, but she somehow has a tie to who dies. It's very vague in this one, but she also gains the dead's abilities. (Yup, even dumber than you thought.) There's just too much going on in this movie and none of it is really fleshed out.
I'm not excited for the last two movies in the original franchise. I kind of have a little bit of hope for Freddy vs. Jason because I do like the Friday the 13th films better. I'm not saying that they are good. I'm just saying that they are something different. Anyway, I'm knocking these out pretty well. And guess what? I didn't even have to use Wikipedia. I could grumble all by myself.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.