Saturday, October 20, 2018

Kids... Always a Disappointment

What went wrong with Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989)? On paper, it all seems like it should work. Structurally it copies the successful part 4, and we have a relatively intricate plot involving Freddy’s rebirth and his origins. Once again we are given a cast of characters who are pretty thin but given elements that lend themselves to nightmare scenarios. Freddy’s attacks are big, dramatic, and visually arresting most of the time. By all rights, this should have been another popular hit for the series, but it never hit the heights of the previous films.

One of the biggest issues is that most of the graphic violence was cut down considerably. By 1989 concerned parents' groups were successfully waging war on what they saw as excessive violence and sexuality in popular media. This would be felt most strongly in horror films of the 1990s, but it can already be seen in The Dream Child. Scenes are cut down to the point where they are almost incoherent. A series like the Nightmare films thrived on big bold fantastical moments that were undercut with horror, and taking out the blood began to reduce them to little more than dark cartoons. Another element was, that up until this point, each Nightmare film put its own stamp on the series in some fashion, but The Dream Child feels like it just copies The Dream Master without adding much of its own personality.

The Dream Child isn’t a complete loss, visually it does have a wonderful dark gothic sensibility that feels like an intriguing direction for the series, it is only too bad that the story couldn’t follow.

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