With the Nightmare on Elm Street series reduced to a mess of a franchise which consisted of five terrible sequels (well, ok, Part 3 was okay), it was about time that Wes Craven got back onto the scene. And what a ride his New Nightmare is! As truly original as it is quick-wittedly clever, this seventh instalment in the failing series is undoubtedly the best.
It is uncommon to come across a horror movie that is undeniably smart, and over the past decade there have only been a handful to reference (to name a few; Copycat, Candyman, Scream). But New Nightmare is an absolute gem in its cleverness. Horror mistro Wes Craven - by now most probably one of the most knowledgeable people in the genre - manages to take the tired, annoying and simply not scary Freddy Krueger back to his dark roots and gives us a reason to actually fear him once more. To base New Nightmare in the 'real' world was a stroke of genius, and adds a whole new level to the movie, and indeed Mr. Krueger himself.
To Heather Langenkamp's credit, she pulls off the role as herself extremely well, and although her 'character' is something of a grown-up-Nancy-turned-actress, it was an interesting twist that made this movie almost infectious in its believability. Miko Hughes as her son did an incredible job, and despite his tender age (here, though now he has grown quite a bit!) he is quite the actor and almost steals the entire movie with his performance.
The new, more instrumental and traditional score is a great departure from the now tired theme that has long since out-stayed its welcome, and gives New Nightmare a fresh feel that separates it almost entirely from the franchise. There are also some nice directorial touches, including a bone-chilling nod back to the first Nightmare in which a victim is pulled up the wall and butchered on the ceiling, and some original dream sequences that are nowhere near as cheesy as they became in the numerous sequels.
Freddy Krueger himself has changed quite noticeably, and the pairing up of his traditional red-and-green jumper with a dark trench coat gave him a new edge of danger. His new claws were a little odd to begin with, but again made a nice change. Truthfully, Freddy is back to his old dark ways in New Nightmare, and once again the viewer does actually fear him rather than laugh along with his sarcastic remarks (yes faithful readers, for once we fear for our heroine rather than cheer Freddy on!)
The only thing that drags this movie down is the end effects that were restricted by the primitive effects of the early nineties. If Craven was to ever polish the ending up with the newly-discovered effects of today, then New Nightmare could possibly be the most perfect Horror movie ever made.
A composition of true skill, this is one not to be missed. New Nightmare is possibly Wes Craven's finest movie to date, and it's nice to see that we can still be scared by Freddy Krueger!