I love my Nightmares. Not actual nightmares mind you—those ruin sleeping pants—but my personal collection of "Nightmare on Elm Street" films. I'm a huge fan of the franchise, so when I originally heard about the then-upcoming re-imagining of the first "Nightmare on Elm Street," Freddy started haunting my waking hours. The movie finally hit theaters this past weekend and I was there opening night, ready to enter dreamland once more. I left knowing one thing for sure: I want a sequel! The new movie certainly has its issues, but the potential for greatness is there.
Thankfully, my dreams are coming true. Warner Bros. announced plans for a sequel after the new "Nightmare" slashed its way to the top of the box office, bringing in the biggest horror opening for the April-May corridor. After the jump, I explain why a sequel is a great idea and where I think the series should go from here. Spoilers abound, so make sure you're ready before browsing into my Nightmare.
First and foremost, the film deserves a sequel for one simple reason: Jackie Earle Haley. His darker take on Krueger, the raspier voice, the more guttural laugh, stand in stark contrast to the manic and crazed supernatural slasher seen in the Robert Englund's original. Unfortunately, you only get fleeting glances of the new Freddy until the last 20 minutes or so; and that's the greatness of Haley's interpretation shines.
Despite the differences, you still see Freddy in there, a glint of that dark humor. The sequel really needs to take advantage of Haley's incredible acting, feature Freddy a little more prominently. While I get the "stalking his prey" approach that director Samuel Bayer and writers Wesley Strick & Eric Heisserer went with, part of the fun of Freddy is that he plays with his food with his voice as much as with his claws.
Another area that could definitely be improved in the sequel are the dream sequences. Taking a cue from the original, the new film spent a lot of the time in the same locales—namely, darkly lit corridors and boiler rooms. With today's effects the possibilities are endless. Again, no need to go crazy and over-the-top. Keep Freddy shifting in and out of reality as the kids lose more and more sleep—those elements really look awesome and provide great chills—but once they pass out, go wild. Experiment with the idea of dreams and nightmares as a means of exploring the characters' fears and doubts. It's a great way to both develop characters and spice up the film's settings.
Really, the biggest problem I had with the new "Nightmare," is the feeling that it vacillates between shooting for a straightahead remake and something entirely new. One of the coolest ideas put forth in the film was the idea that Freddy might possibly have been innocent when the Elm Street parents burned him alive. What if he was innocent? Does that change the character? Yeah, but not as much as the revelation the he actually was guilty, and the resulting alterations made to his backstory. The twist of an innocent Freddy becoming a monster would have really shown the audience that this was a true re-imagining. Instead we get a Freddy whose motivation seems just a tad bit off.
That's why a sequel seems like a great idea. It's a chance to break away and grow. Moving forward, you don't need to continue copying the other installments in the franchise. In fact, DO NOT copy the next installment, "Freddy's Revenge." That film needs forgetting. Instead, my hope is that the sequel keeps the tone and spirit of the original franchise while supplementing that with all new Nightmares.