Wes Craven's New Nightmare takes place ten years after the first NOES film and focuses on the real life people who made the movie, particularly actress Heather Langenkamp who played Nancy, the first heroine of the series.
She,along with Robert Englund,studio head Robert Shaye and Wes Craven himself, play fictionalized versions of themselves who are promoting the tenth anniversary of the original film. There's also talk of making a new Freddy film but Heather is not up for that.
Some of that reluctance on her part is due to a stalker that leaves her strange messages and creepy phone calls. She also has a strong yet undefined sense of unease, not helped by the frequent aftershocks of an earthquake(which happened during the filming and was incorporated into the story line) going on every other minute. Things get even scarier for Heather when her nightmares start coming true, such as the demise of her husband Chase, an F/X artist who was working on a new version of Freddy's glove.
Turns out that Wes is writing a new script that is chronicling everything that's happening to them all as an ancient spirit of evil has latched onto Freddy's persona and with no more movies being made, decides to break into the real world. In order to do that, he has to get by the guardian of the gate who is, of course, Nancy and this Freddy is no gruesome goofball as seen in the last couple of Elm Street films. This incarnation is a more vicious opponent than any one on or off screen has dealt with before:
There are numerous throwbacks to the original NOES(including the "screw your hall pass!" line) as well as allusions to some of the other films, such as Freddy's glove being an organic part of his hand(Nightmare 2), having medical authorities try to control you for your "own good"(Nightmare 3) and the need to save a child from the dangers of the dream world (Nightmare 5). These mentions are done subtly and might not be picked up on by newcomers but they are well placed here.
A big scene that even newbies could recognize right off the bat is a grisly replay of the infamous Tina death, with sympathetic babysitter Julie being ripped around a hospital room as a terrified Dylan watches in despair. It's the first major scene where we get a real good look at this particular rendition of Freddy and he is one nasty character,folks:
It would have been interesting to see Englund actually being menaced by a darker version of his renowned movie monster but it makes sense,thematically, to have Heather put in the center of the story. After all, you could see the NOES movies as a wicked twist on the Beauty and the Beast myth and it's the girl that's meant to take down the Big Bad in the end there.
New Nightmare shows that there is more to this genre that screams and gore, not to mention that Heather Langenkamp gives one hell of a performance. As she slowly becomes Nancy yet stays true to herself, Heather shines and reminds us of that unassuming girl next door we first met all those years ago. Only this time, her maturity becomes a crucial element in approaching this malevolent battlefield yet again.
Perhaps it was a bit before it's time there but Wes Craven's New Nightmare is definitely worth a viewing ,especially by it's intended audience:
Tune in next time, when we check out Robert Englund down South in 2001 Maniacs, and in the mean while, do have a horrifying Halloween with New Nightmare.
During my research for Freddy's Dead, I heard director Rachel Talahay on video saying that she and the crew were, in a sense ,having their own final say on the NOES movies and when it comes to New Nightmare, it was right and fitting of Wes Craven to present his own farewell to Freddy and friends(as for the fans, we'll see that sinister salute by the end of this year, I promise) to us all: