Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This is the strangest, most interesting of all the Elm Street movies, and it had potential to be the best, but I think a few shortcomings hold it back. Before Craven made the uber-meta Scream, he made this one, which is even more meta. It's about how Craven and the cast of the Elm Street series are being haunted by a real life version of Freddy Krueger, or at least some supernatural force that has taken Freddy's likeness.

There is a lot to like here, but also a few elements that hold it back from being a classic. I think my big complaint is that too much of the movie is focused on the young son of Heather Lagenkamp (the actress from parts 1 and 3, playing herself) and how he may possibly be possessed by Freddy. Most of it is just arbitrary, generic Exorcist wannabe stuff, and unfortunately it takes the emphasis off the dream motif of the series. Which is a shame, because the times when Craven does focus on the nightmare imagery, he scores. I'm particularly fond of the dream where a casket opens up into some dark underworld that's made of the same lining the casket has.

It's a pretty good movie, though, and I'm a sucker for the line between fiction and reality stuff, especially all the references to the original film Craven peppers in. But it always feels like it's on the cusp of excellence and never quite makes it there. Craven had found a new style and point of view, but he didn't quite perfect it yet, not until Scream.

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