Nightmare on Elm Street works best when it is simple and unfortunately, Dream Child isn’t. Instead of a movie where Freddy kills people in their dreams, Dream Child decides to over-complicate matters, introducing “rules” for Freddy’s intrusions, a dark backstory and strangest of all, the dreams of an unborn child.
It makes for a bizarre instalment in the franchise but one that tries to connect to the past movies. Dream Child isn’t the first to give Freddy’s back-story (that was explored in Dream Masters) nor is it the first to include his mother as a key character. It also brings forward characters from the previous movie, specifically Lisa Wilcox’s Alice and Danney Hassel’s Dan.
It makes for a more credible story when there is clear links to the previous movies and this one nicely develops the story but then chooses a strange path to go down when it focuses on Alice’s pregnancy. Freddie is now using her unborn child’s dreams to kill the select teenagers of this movie: a concept that just doesn’t really work.
It means we get some weird imagery, from a baby demon Freddie to Kruger inside an ultra-sound scan. Luckily, the strange imagery stretches to the deaths as well and here is where Dream Child matches the previous films. Nightmare on Elm Street is always at it’s best when the kills are creative and here they are no different, from a comic book kill, a kill involving diving and grossest of all, an over-eating themed death. It is also giving rise to a more comical Kruger though.
As the films have developed, Freddy has become a more vocal, almost caricature of the original killer. The burnt child-killer dresses as a chef, jokes while drink-driving and even becomes a comic-book character himself. Dream Child, like the previous two movies, has decided to go for gross imagery and silly gags rather than scares, which the fifth Elm Street movie sorely lacks.
It does mean that Robert Englund returns with much more to do and a grin across his face doing it. He clearly relishes the chance to play the character and this is some of the better material he gets to work with, even if he is bordering on possessed stand-up comic rather than dream invading demon.
Overall, Dream Child is another weak entry into a series that seems to have over-stayed it’s welcome. There are some original moments and very memorable deaths but for the most part this is a series that tries to over-complicate the plot and has forgotten the simplicity of the first movie, something that made the original film so successful.
Rating – 2.5
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