Tuesday, August 9, 2011
This Time Staying Awake Won't Save You!
Wes Craven's New Nightmare is originally the 7th part of the successful Nightmare on Elm Street cult horror series which recently saw a reboot last year. They probably changed the title to New Nightmare because they might have been unsure how many they had made. This one's got a remarkable twist, though: most of the actors play themselves including Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund. The metafilm screenplay also takes on some hazy but ambitious themes about storytelling and its connection with eternal evil.
Turns out Freddy Kruger is a symbol representing an undying evil spirit so terrifying as to defy description (though if you were to describe him, you'd say he looked a lot like Freddy Kruger). This fiend is awakened in some other dimension whenever someone tells a ghost story. Bringing the story to a close -- having the woodsman hack grandma out of the big, bad wolf's belly, for instance - is the only thing preventing the devil from invading everyday reality.
Enter Nightmare on Elm Street, which has resisted bringing itself to a close via an endless string of sequels and so has enabled the demon to approach the portal to our dimension. Once this hypothesis is established, which takes some time, the movie races ahead with enough splatter chills and slasher thrills.
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare is a sort of quasi-snuff film. It uses self-reference to imply that something terrible happened to the people who helped make it, but doesn't insist that you take the implication seriously the way a few low-budget horror movies of the 70s and 80s did. This makes the movie's self-references much more than a mere gimmick. And you’ll admit, New Nightmare takes on some big ideas and doesn't always succeed but it’s still a fun scary ride to take.