It's The Final Nightmare! Despite the fact that Freddy Krueger became the equivalent of the coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, he's still chopping up little kids. Okay, teenagers. But still, is that the line in the sand that you want to draw? Probably not. He's a murdering serial killer who makes in appropriate jokes. C'mon. Use some judgment! Hard R.
DIRECTOR: Rachel Talalay
I feel like I've achieved something. I know that I still have to review Freddy vs. Jason, but I've gotten the main franchise done. That has to account for something. Sure, I've accomplished a giant waste of time. But tomorrow morning, we're going to record our Nightmare on Elm Street episode of the podcast and I now know the entire series. (I finished Freddy vs. Jason last night. I won't get to the review for a few days though. Give me a break. This is impressive enough.) I don't mean to get all clickbaity (mainly because you are already at the website reading this hypothetically), but did the final entry in the series give me closure or something that might have changed my view on the whole series? Nope.
While watching this one, I realize it is the one in the franchise that I've seen the most. I was still very young when this movie came out, but it was a very overstocked VHS during Blockbuster's hayday. If you don't remember Blockbuster, they weren't exactly known for their variety of movies so much as their bulk of movies. When I went down my first horror spiral, I do remember wanting to see what A Nightmare on Elm Street was all about. The original wasn't there, but the most recent sequel always had a few copies lying around. When I started watching this one again, it all came back to me...with the exception of the ridiculously great opening. I'm not talking about the opening sequence. With the appearance of Freddy as the Wicked Witch of the West, I lost hope of this film very quickly. No, I'm talking about the establishment of the setting. That opening title card was so darned cool and I really wanted the movie that the information teased. For those not in the know, the movie opens to a late '80s / early '90s computer with a polygon map of the United States. Ten years have passed. It shows the town of Springboro (the name of the town gets referenced way more since Part 4) no longer has any teenagers because they've all been wiped out by Freddy Krueger. The adults of the town have gone mad, but there's rumors of one surviving teenager. Do you understand how much I wanted this movie? I'd love post-apocalyptic Springboro as the one surviving teen Mad Maxes his way to killing Freddy Krueger. That movie sounds amazing. Instead, the movie just plays it safe and copies much of the formula for the other movies. There's a little weirdness when they actually show Springboro, but these are done for cheap effects. I suppose the logic is that, since Freddy has now killed every teenager in the town, he's so powerful that he can affect reality. It is a lazy excuse to do some scares that couldn't (ahem...shouldn't) be done in this franchise. There's some haunted house scares that the other movies don't really touch on outside of dreams. But these moments don't really make a lick of sense. By this point in the series, Freddy can do whatever he wants regardless of the rules and you know that he's going to be beaten by the end.
I have so much to gripe about, but I want to say that I was excited to see Yapphet Kotto and Breckin Meyer in this movie. Kotto is like John Saxon for me. I always wonder why he picks the projects he does. Both of these actors seem so intense in real life, but they tend to do a lot of schlock films. Kotto brings this amazing intensity to the movie. I wonder if New Line sold him on the project as "the end of an era." Like, did they pretend that he was going to be in something that would last generations. Honest to Pete, Kotto has to sell the idea that 3D glasses are going to save someone's life and he does it. He's also given permission to beat Freddy Krueger up with a baseball bat. (Again, talking about rules, since when does Freddy invade adult dreams? I guess Nancy's mom was taken and that doesn't make a lot of sense either. Regardless, I love me some rules.) Characters like Kotto's in this movie always scream a little bit silly. There is always a character who has an intimate knowledge of dreams despite the fact that their profession should only have at best a tertiary knowledge of the subject. Kotto plays a psychologist / social worker who weirdly enough has a poster of the exact dream demon that possessed Fred Krueger when he was alive. He works with Freddy's daughter. (The notion of "spoiler" is too good for this movie.) Yapphet Kotto had to play this part seriously. Boo. I mean, I'm glad to see him and he made the movie for me, but he's better than that.
Does anyone find the concept of live action Looney Tunes funny, especially in the horror genre? This happens again in Freddy vs. Jason, but the idea of goofy slapstick murder isn't great. Part of what made Chaplin amazing at slapstick is the idea of there not being any consequences to the violence. One of my pet peeves in comedy is when there is wacky music indicating that something is supposed to be funny. A Nightmare on Elm Street loves this crap and Freddy's Dead takes it to a new level in this one. I don't know how, but it actually takes a step back in effectiveness with a similar kill that it presented in Part 5. The one thing I liked in The Dream Child was the use of the comic book warp inward. I called it the "Take On Me" effect. It works way better than it should. (Again, that one dropped the ball on the whole execution ((pun intended)) when Freddy showed up, but I was actually impressed that a lot of it worked.) This one has a similar bit, but dumbs it down even more than I thought it could. Breckin Meyer, who again is too good for this movie, plays a stoner watching TV. Instead of integrating him into the comic book, which seemed to take the medium seriously, does the most juvenile presentation of a video game ever. The sequence is just bad. This is the scene that stuck with me the most and it is cringeworthy. Meyer is treated like a pinball and there's nothing scary or funny about it. It's just dumb. It's odd because I've seen Talalay's name attached to a few entries in the franchise, but it is moments like these that I don't think she can judge what works in this horror movie. The movie also dates itself with the Power Glove reference. Freddy, in this case, is really overplaying the Coyote character that I mentioned in the last one. His fourth wall breaking never really allows for anyone to get involved in the story.
Finally, there's a mythology that could have been cool, but I don't know if it is plausible in this story. Much of Freddy's mythology is based on Amanda Krueger, his mother who was a nun, and his fear of her. She has always been the only female character in his life. This movie semi-retcons a wife and kid into Freddy's life, which I feel we would have seen more information about before. Many of the movies show newspaper clippings about Amanda Krueger or Freddy's victims, so why haven't we heard hide-nor-hair about this family. I suppose Freddy's daughter was brought into the series to give the protagonist a sense of gravitas, but she really doesn't take the character any further than the other protagonists of this franchise. When it comes to killing off Freddy, there's nothing special about his death. There's no reason why this killing would make it permanent (even Freddy addresses this fact by listing off the ways he's been killed in the past). The movies tend to find the same answer for killing Freddy Krueger and it never sticks. It's not that exciting knowing that, if Freddy is pulled into the real world, he can die. He clearly can't and I don't know why the movie keeps pushing for me to believe that.
I watched the 3D ending. I loved me some 3D back in the day and I always get excited when I find a pair of red/blue glasses in a DVD case. I may be spoiled by our actual 3D TV now, but this was some really rough 3D. I don't hate the red/blue glasses, but I think the folks at New Line / TimeWarner really phoned in the 3D transfer. It's not very good. Things are supposedly coming out at me, but there's only a small field of depth. If I'm ever forced to watch this movie again, I'd probably watch the 2D version, despite the shameless scene where the characters highlight which weapons they are going to use on Freddy. (I liked it because it WAS shameless. Friday the 13th 3D is all about these moments.)
I'm glad I'm almost done. I'm ready for tomorrow. If you've been following along, I get that many people like these movies. I can just firmly say that I can't recommend them to anyone.
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.