Dream Child is really a bit of an odd bird in the Nightmare series. It has ambitions, and attempts to address societal issues such as abortion, drunk driving, eating disorders, yet never quite succeeds. There’s a fair bit of ridiculousness in it, and while it continues with the “humor” that bloomed in Dream Master, it’s certainly toned down, and almost palatable. In a lot of ways, Dream Child is a throwback to a more serious and scary Elm Street. While I probably like this more than I should, the fact it came right after my least favorite served as a palate cleanser, so perhaps it’s more relief it didn’t suck than it is anything else.
Dream Child picks up not long after the end of Dream Master. Alice does indeed get with Dan, as the first shots we see are of the two of them bathed in a blue light making all kinds of monkey love. Alive goes to take a shower and as is wont to happen, the handles come off, the shower stall door locks and it fills up with water, nearly drowning her. Through the magic of dreams, the stall breaks and she’s thrown into a strange asylum (though alert viewers may recognize some of it from Nightmare 3). Once there she sees a nun named Amanda Krueger and follows her. Unfortunately for Alice she is attacked by the patients at the asylum (with another Robert Englund without makeup appearance) but wakes up from the horror before anything happens. It’s a strong opening, and out of the sequels it’s one of my favorite beginnings.
We then see her graduating from high school and are introduced to this movie’s victims err, her friends: there’s hunky boyfriend Dan, of course, Greta a model wannabe, Mark, a comic book nerd, and Yvonne, the sassy black friend who also volunteers as a candy striper at the hospital. After graduation she goes to work, because that’s what everyone does to celebrate, and finds herself back at the asylum, and sees Amanda giving birth to Freddy, a cross between Krueger and the baby from Eraserhead. The mini Freddy escapes and Alice follows it into the church where she’d killed him in the last movie. The baby finds the remains and we see a full grown slasher spring up before our eyes, with him announcing, “It’s a boy!” Yeah, no shit.
After arriving late for her shift, she calls Dan to tell him what happened, and he races to her at the diner. On the way, he falls asleep behind the wheel, and Freddy pops up, and turns him into a human motorcycle, then promptly forces him to crash into a tanker truck. It’s a shame because I kind of liked Dan as a character. In spite of being the dumb jock type, he was actually kind of cool, and interesting. Alice hears the crash, sees Dan’s mangled body and faints. At the hospital, she sees a little boy named Jacob though her friend Yvonne says there’s no children’s ward or any patient named Jacob.
This, of course, sets everything up for a couple of more kills before the “final’ confrontation. First to meet their maker is Greta, who falls asleep at her mother’s dinner party, and force fed by Freddy until she finally dies. This is a creepy and kind of amusing scene. While I really get annoyed with Freddy playing dress up, I did enjoy this.
Not quite as enjoyable was Mark’s death. Well, his actual death was interesting, but leading up to it was Freddy riding a skateboard, which just had me rolling my eyes so hard they nearly fell out. Being that he’s a comic book geek, Freddy turns him into a paper doll and slashes him to ribbons till he’s nothing more than confetti. Again, good death, poor execution (no pun intended).
From here we get to the finale which takes place in the same church Alice killed him before, and there’s a very clever chase sequence with Alice, Jacob Freddy all running around an Escher set, with stairs that go up, down and all around. It’s a well-done scene, and while not very tense or exciting, still fun to watch. Amanda Krueger comes back to help banish her son, and we find out what we knew from when we first saw him, that Jacob is actually Alice’s baby.
Stephen Hopkins direction is certainly a step up from the previous installment, and he shows he has a great imagination with bringing a pretty cobbled together script to the screen. While I give him props for trying to do something new with the social awareness of different issues, all things considered, it’s still a Freddy, and people don’t want to think past that.
Lisa Wilcox reprises her role as Alice and does a better job this go round. I really liked her a lot more than I did in the past movie. Whether she got better between gigs or what, she certainly showed she had some chops. Danny Hassel as Dan, while having a bit more screen time and dialogue this time around is perfectly cast for the role. Hassel brings an amiable, pleasant quality not only to Dan but the movie itself.
Kelly Jo Minter, Erika Anderson, and Joe Seely are all perfectly fine as the friends and future victims. Minter as Yvonne makes the most of her role, but I think it’s Anderson who has the best character and scene. That dinner party scene just gets me for some reason. Seely is the definition of geek, and if he’s a bit clichéd, well this isn’t a Bergman film they’re making.
Whit Hertford is quite good as Jacob, considering he only has a hospital gown to wear throughout the whole movie. And for being so young, he’s put in a lot of intense scenes, and really pulls it off. I wish more child actors were this good. Beatrice Boepple as Amanda Krueger shines as Amanda Krueger, and I thought her scenes worked quite well.
Dream Child isn’t perfect, and I’m probably giving it more credit than it may actually deserve, but I enjoyed it, for the most part, and found it a worthy addition to the Nightmare franchise.