Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

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Wes Craven directs Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and himself in this meta reboot of the franchise he accidentally started a decade earlier.

The original, Dream Warriors and this are the only Freddy flicks you ever need care about. All have varying degrees of input from Craven to their benefit, whereas the others feel like rush jobs or misguided spoofs of his first vision. This attempt to ground the horror phenomenon of Fred Krueger back to reality after he had appeared as a pregnant rapper, a children’s toy and a cereal brand is not really as scary or as smart as it needs to be in retrospect yet the ambition is clearly there. Equally the lead performance from Langenkamp stretches her, she is a scream queen not a thespian, so when the film ventures into demanding Babadook / Repulsion-esque set pieces she cannot handle the demands, exposing her stunt casting abilities. There are some fun effects, creepy passages and inventive plotting – enough of each to make this more than a flip exercise in self awareness. Not the film within a film to convert the uninitiated to slasher horror but significant for fans of the genre. NB. It was also the first 18 rated film I illicitly saw on the big screen.

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