Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

1994. Directed by Wes Craven.  

It's a very rare occurrence when a director makes a personal film, working through their various issues with Hollywood and fame, that works.   Wes Craven's New Nightmare is such a film.   

Heather Langenkamp plays herself, along with Robert Englund, John Saxon, and Craven himself.  The basic premise is that Wes wants to make a new Freddy film because he believes Freddy is a symbol of an evil entity that is very real and the film is a method to contain it.  As the film draws closer to the inevitable showdown, certain characters begin to mimic their on screen personas, thus further blurring the line between film and reality.  

This is Craven's most personal film.  Freddy is redesigned in an image closer to his demonic incarnation of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street.  It's obvious in every scene that Craven was disappointed in what the franchise became and wanted to use this film as a way of righting the ship.  There's nothing funny about this story.  Craven even uses death scenes to recreate some of the kills from the original franchise, cementing his belief of the first film's intent and furthermore criticizing it's evolution at the hands of the Hollywood machine.  This is his ax to grind.   The most telling scene is when Heather is on a talk show and there is an image of Freddy waving to the crowd and the lights.  It's repeated throughout, driving his disdain for everything his movie became home.  

Mark Irwin's cinematography is very tricky.  The camera movement during the horror scenes is crisp and flexible, gliding along with the bloodshed.  As previously mentioned, Mary Jane Fort's costume design is menacing.  Freddy dons a hat and trench coat, a look which only furthers the evil given form theme.   The outfit, combined with Erin Haggerty's makeup effects solidify Freddy's (and Craven's) return to the roots of the franchise that changed American horror films (for better and worse) forever.  

Available now on Netflix, Wes Craven's New Nightmare is one of the most unique horror films ever attempted.  It's meta for meta sake and the director takes not only himself, but the audience and the industry to task for the popularity, and uncontrollable Frankenstein effect his films had.   The most important thing about New Nightmare is that Craven chose to not make a satire.  Instead, he made the only cathartic film he was capable of making.  A horror film in which he is a player and a victim of his own vanity.  What's scarier than that?  

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