Today I watched Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Wes Craven, despite creating the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, only returned to directing it in this the seventh entry into the series. In this entry Craven goes hog wild with fourth wall breaking surrealism as the plot features Heather Langenkamp playing herself, the actress who’s character survived the first Nightmare film. As she tries to live the normal actors life she becomes haunted by the spirit of the fictional character that is Freddy Krueger. The plot follows a parade of Hollywood personalities and cameos from the first film, playing themselves as they try to make a new Nightmare film, as they do though, the events of the films begin to haunt them as the spirit of Freddy comes to life.
Firstly, it should be said that I thought this film was far too long. The decompression does the film few favours as the actors are good enough to express their characters quickly and the extra time for setup felt to me like a waste of time. The scares, when they do come, are for the most part, unfortunately much less interesting or creative as the original or even a few of the earlier entries. Many of the scares are just omens, meant to create an atmosphere but with the poor pacing they just slow the film down more with the constant extreme weather and other portentous events.
What is interesting about this film how it discusses the effects of horror films on those involved with them, most notably those who make such flicks. With the fictional monster finding real existence in the subconscious of the artists the film seems to imply that there is a realism to the stories we create to entertain ourselves. Or at the very least that the psychological profile of popular narratives has a profound effect on those people that create the narratives in the first place.
As this film went on, boredom really got to me as it does not double down on either the scares or the themes. This film has been compared many times to Scream and one can see why fairly easily as they both engage with deconstructing narrative and genre while winking at the fourth wall. But Scream seems to have so much more fun, while this film seems bogged down with the weight of a previously existing franchise. The film makes the audience wait too long for any real payoff, though when the ‘why’ behind the events of the film is revealed it is rather creative. I feel like this film is torn between wanting to be two things, the fun deconstruction that inevitably became Scream, and a more serious horror film that attempts to undo the self parody that Freddy had become at this point. But I felt it failed at being either, there is certainly some interesting elements at work but they are buried in some serious boredom. 2/5