Wes Craven’s new Nightmare Retro review: Freddy is ahead of the curve

The year is 1994. I go to the theater and buy a ticket for it Wes Craven’s new nightmareAnd I’m not ready for this what happens next. The year is 2023. I turn to Maxpress play. Wes Craven’s new nightmareand I am Despite it not ready for what happens next.

A lot has changed in the almost 30 years since then Wes Craven made his last attempt with his most famous figure, Freddy Krugerin the ultra meta film New nightmare. We have gotten older. Some of us have become wiser. Craven passed. The spread of the Internet has made the world smaller. And most importantly in this case, self-reference has become a much more common way of expressing an idea or presenting a story.

By the time Craven wrote and directed his final Freddy film in 1994, the idea of ​​a meta-narrative was far less common. It was definitely out there, last year Last action hero And that goes back to the 1960s and 1970s, when film icons like Federico Fellini and Orson Welles experimented with it in their work. This was nothing new, but it was very rarely a successful thing, especially at the time. With a few exceptions or unless you were Mel BrooksVery few of these films were well received by audiences. So despite New nightmare The film capped a nearly half-billion dollar franchise and was by far the least successful film of the series financially, grossing less than $20 million worldwide.

Freddy with Nancy's son Dylan, played by Miko Hughes.

Freddy with Nancy’s son Dylan, played by Miko Hughes.
Picture: New Line Cinema

The message was clear. The audience didn’t care. And if you watch the film today, especially after not having seen it since its initial release, it’s honestly not that surprising. Craven does things that probably seemed to some viewers like they were watching a film in another language without subtitles. You have to think about what happens in multiple realities. You have to be pretty knowledgeable about the film’s story on and off screen nightmare Franchise. Knowledge of the filmmaking process is also an advantage – and on top of that, it ultimately has to be scary and exciting. The end result isn’t entirely successful, but remains a fascinating piece of horror history that feels like an almost necessary bridge to what came next in the genre.

To summarize briefly: New nightmareIt is set in our world where actress Heather Langenkamp, ​​who plays herself, is famous for her role as Nancy in the hugely popular film A Nightmare on Elm Street Series that she was. Heather begins to have all-too-real dreams about her former co-star Freddy, which coincidentally coincides with Wes Craven playing himself and writing a finale nightmare Movie for Heather. From there, things spiral out of control as Craven explains that Freddy is the manifestation of an ancient evil that is now coming back through storytelling, and that the only way to stop him is to make a movie that we’re all about in the end we learn that it is the film we have. I watched the whole time. Thirty years old, spoiler alert.

Heather Langenkamp as Heather Langenkamp.

Heather Langenkamp as Heather Langenkamp.
Picture: New Line Cinema

Even when I watch the film today, it’s all a bit much. The idea is super imaginative and ripe for exploration, but is also downright obsessed with being grounded in reality, which it achieves largely by presenting the principles as themselves (not just Langenkamp and Craven, but Robert too Englund, who also plays “Robert Englund”). as Freddy; New Line Cinema head Bob Shaye; and John Saxon, who played Nancy’s father in the original film). Then Craven’s story about story becomes a reflection for the audience: our appetite for franchises, our worship of celebrity, and our fascination with terror. It is about a man who argues about his creation and strives to explore its effects. The film never quite comes to a consensus about what it wants to say about all this, but it does make you think, and maybe that’s enough.

Or maybe it was too much in 1994. What happens in New nightmare The result of this twisted, shifting and self-aware narrative is that the Freddy we all know and love is all but absent for most of the film. He appears in flashes and is much clearer at the end, but he himself is “real” and not that much fun. In fact, this Freddy is much more in line with what Craven wanted for the character: on the contrary, he becomes darker and scarier to the sillier and funnier way he went about it in later sequels. So there is a clear, borderline harmful conflict between expectation and intention. Some of this is glossed over by the film’s effects and gore, but even that is significantly pushed back and gets a little lost under the cloud of the story.

Creepy Freddy

Creepy Freddy
Picture: New Line Cinema

When the film ended, I was impressed by its ambition. I’m thinking about the fact that, as the film suggested, Craven probably came under pressure to bring Freddy back, even though the previous film was called Freddy’s Dead, and only did so under these most extreme circumstances. Then I thought about the film Craven followed New nightmare with – not Vampire in Brooklyn, even though that was the immediately next film. This after: Screamwritten by Kevin Williamson. Scream also (but maybe not Scream 2) is an intelligent meta-horror film without any superfluous layers. Everything is more focused and streamlined while rewarding you for being a film and horror fan. Which of course led to this Scream becoming one of the most influential and successful franchises in the genre.

That’s all to say Wes Craven’s new nightmaree is certainly not the best nightmare Continued (cough dream warrior COUGH), it’s definitely not the worst that the box office at the time would suggest. Instead, the film feels underrated and underrated more than anything. However, his fans are definitely out there and I’m not the first to have this revelation about his importance to Craven and horror. But somehow it felt just right to rediscover it on a random October evening. Almost as if Craven and Freddy planned it that way.

Wes Craven’s new nightmare is streaming on Max.

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