Craven was Craving for another Nightmare
In 1984 Wes Craven gave us "A Nightmare on Elm Street" a movie which not only set a benchmark for horror but also launched a horror franchise. Then came the sequels, sequels which without Wes Craven directing often failed to deliver anything any good and to be frank made the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies a bit of joke. But 3 years after Freddy Krueger was finally killed off Wes Craven returned with another "Nightmare" movie and rather than just a sequel which repeated what we had seen before he brought in a new concept with the evil of Krueger returning to haunt the pivotal actors and actresses who featured in the movies. It's a clever idea and makes "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" a return to form with some great horror as Heather Langenkamp finds herself being haunted by Freddy Kruger.
Almost 10 years on from playing Nancy in "A Nightmare on Elm Street" Heather Langenkamp starts to experience something strange as she gets mysterious phone calls, nightmares and her son Dylan (Miko Hughes - Pet Sematary) having strange episodes. When her husband is killed in a car accident and she discovers that her old friend Wes Craven is writing a new "Nightmare" movie she realizes that Freddy has somehow managed to enter the real world and the only way she can beat him and save her son is to become Nancy once again.
For me "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is a movie of two halves with the first half being the best as we watch Heather Langenkamp and her son Dylan being plagued by nightmares. It does take a bit of time to get it into your head that you are watching Heather Langenkamp playing a pseudo version of herself and not the character of Nancy but it allows the Freddy concept to go one step further as he enters the pseudo real world. And you have to say that Wes Craven works this idea well with Heather Langenkamp basically known for being Nancy in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies whilst also bringing in other actors such as Robert Englund and John Saxon to create this pseudo real world. It has to be said that this isn't a behind the scene style movie which looks at actors lives; it is obvious that the likes of Heather Langenkamp are acting in characters but it works. And it also works with part of the story being built around Wes Craven penning a new "Nightmare" movie which appears to imitate what we are watching, allowing for Craven himself to appear in a few scenes.
Through out this first half we have the prelude to the horror as it becomes clear that Heather is having her own nightmares which make her feel that Freddy is somehow haunting her. And tied into this you have her son Dylon behaving very strangely, as if he is possessed by some evil force. As such it works to makes for an interesting first half of the movie with little moments of horror which grab your attention.
But as I said "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is a movie of two halves and following all the mystery of Heather being haunted in her dreams things starts to go a bit wrong. It starts when Heather visits Wes and in a very heavy handed manner we learn that the evil which was Freddy in the movies was real and has now returned, as per the reason why so many strange things are happening to Heather and her son. From then on things start to get a little far fetched, although nowhere near as far fetched as what went on in the sequels. But it feels out of balance with the first half and whilst Freddy returns looking more scary than ever it almost feels a little cliche.
Despite this you have to say that Wes Craven knows what he is doing with the horror so whilst there are a few moments of gore he focuses on generating fear which he achieves time and time again. It's a case that you know something bad is about to happen, you know someone is going to die but you don't know how and Craven almost toys with you as to what will happen. And I've said it before but having a child who ends up being the channel for evil is an unsettling experience and Miko Hughes who already delivered a brilliantly creepy performance as Cage in "Pet Sematary" does it again as Heather's son Dylan.
It's also good fun watching the likes of Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and John Saxon playing pseudo versions of themselves. Yes it's obvious that each of them are acting in character rather than being themselves but it nicely blurs that line between the movie and reality. And you have to say that Heather Langenkamp does a brilliant job of leading the movie, delivering those cliche horror aspects but in a pseudo real world whilst Robert Englund seems to be having a ball playing a version of himself. But I have to say it is Miko Hughes who steals the movie from all of the adult actors because he manages to go from being this scared little kid into a channel for evil in a blink of an eye and it is so unsettling.
What this all boils down to is that "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" is a very entertaining horror movie thanks to the concept of Freddy entering the lives of the actors and actresses who appeared in the movies. It is a movie of two halves with the first half being the better and more interesting half for me but even a weaker second half is still entertaining especially with Miko Hughes delivering another brilliant performance as a creepy child.