This is the way the world end: not with a bang but a whimper.
Good old Mr. Eliot must have seen Freddy’s Dead when he penned that classic line, for nothing seems to fit the final sequel (and I don’t consider A New Nightmare an actual sequel), better than that. It’s not that Freddy’s Dead is a bad movie, it isn’t. Nor is it especially good. I guess my feeling can be summed up with, it really has no reason to exist. In spite of seeing the jump rope kids at the very end of five, I thought it wrapped things up as well as you could expect, and would have been perfectly fine leaving it that way.
Long time producer on the series Rachel Talalay takes the helm this time out, and she makes it clear why cross training in different jobs isn’t always a god idea. The screenplay by Michael DeLuca doesn’t help her, and one can only imagine what the original script could have been, had it been used. Hell, even the script that Peter Jackson wrote, would have been a step up. For those unfamiliar with either, here are the bare bones of the stories for both as taken from Wikipedia: In the original script of the film, 15-year-old Jacob Johnson (son of the previous installment‘s main character, Alice Johnson) was the major character while many of the “Dream Warriors” would return to aid Jacob in defeating Freddy after he kills Alice. This idea was later trashed and rewritten into the final script. Peter Jackson also wrote a screenplay, but it was not used; his screenplay was about how Freddy had become seen as such of a low threat that teenagers were now taking sleeping pills just so they could mess with him. A police officer then was to go into a comatose state, thus permanently being in Freddy’s realm.Jackson’s script was said to be called A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Lover and the supposed concept was that Freddy had become so weak in the dream world that teens made a game out of going into the dream world and beating up Freddy. But when Freddy regains enough power to take a boy’s father hostage in the dream world, the boy must go there one last time to save his dad. In the final draft of the film, Alice and Jacob are seen briefly moving away from Springwood during the montage at the end of the film.
Here’s what we got instead. Freddy’s Dead is set 10 years in the future from the last movie, where all but one of the children from Springwood have been killed. We start out in an airplane going through some bad turbulence. When one of the passengers (one of the oldest looking teens seen in the series yet), gets ejected and lands/wakes up in a house across from the infamous 1428 Elm St. He tries to escape the house and town, but is hit by a bus driven by Freddy and knocked through the barrier of Springwood and reality. He comes to with amnesia (after a ridiculous tumble down a hill, where you can see him throwing himself down it several times to keep the momentum going), and is taken to a shelter for troubled teens.
We’re then introduced to the head doctor, obviously slumming it for a paycheck, Yaphet Koto, and his assistant, Maggie Burroughs. We also get to see this film’s victims, the partially deaf Carlos, the stoner Spencer, and the tough as nails with a heart of gold—scratch that, she’s just a bitch, Tracy. I know she was sexually abused by her father, but they don’t even try to make her sympathetic, and she just comes across as unlikeable.
In an effort to help John recover his memories, Maggie takes him to Springwood and when he freaks out on the way, they discover that the other three teens stowed away in the van in an attempt to escape. The group breaks up, with John and Maggie going into town, and the others stopping at a town fair of sorts. There are no children, only adults who have apparently gone insane. Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold make an unwelcome cameo, and the teens wisely get away from them as fast as possible. AS they try to leave town, they get stuck in a loop that prevents them from actually leaving, and they decide to shack up for the night at the old house on Elm Street. Meanwhile, John and Maggie explore an old school house and then an orphanage where they uncover some clues to Freddy’s background though little to nothing about John.
Back at the house, Carlos decides to sack out for the night and is awakened by Tracy calling for him. As he wanders looking for her, he ends up in his old neighborhood, with Freddy disguising himself as his abusive mother. There’s a grisly q-tip scene, an ear cut off and finally Carlos’ head explodes.
Tracy decides to go looking for Carlos and takes the van to search. Spencer smokes a joint, falls asleep, and becomes a character in a video game that Freddy is playing. Tracy runs into Maggie and John, and they race back to the house to save Spencer who’s bouncing and jumping around in a Mario type game being played by Freddy. Needless to say, poor Spencer runs out of lives, and it’s game over.
From here the three try to escape town, and in the process John is killed by Freddy. He tells Maggie that Freddy’s child was a girl and not a boy (going against everything that happened in Dream Child), and then he dies. We never find out who he was, why he was there, and what connection he had with Freddy. In spite of identifying and rooting for him for ¾ of the movie, we get no resolution to his story. It’s as if they couldn’t think of anything, so ignored it and hoped everyone else did as well. But no, the one surviving teen is the least likable of them all, and the final fight with Freddy (in 3D! no less) is so anticlimactic, you’ll fall asleep before Maggie can utter the last line, “Freddy’s Dead.”
There are things that work in Freddy’s Dead, such as the time loop (which was also done in #4), the acting and some of the effects, but that’s not nearly enough to save the rest of the movie. Shon Greenblatt is terrific as John Doe (even if he’s not quite believable as a teen), and I still feel pissed off that his story line never really gets resolved.
Yaphet Koto does little more than sleepwalk through his role, but he’s still fun to watch because…well, he’s Yaphet Koto. Lisa Zane as Maggie also does a good job given the material she has to work with, and her scenes with Shon are probably some of the best.
Ricky Dean Logan as Carlos isn’t bad, but you never think he’s partially deaf from his speech and actions. Lezlie Deane is appropriately annoying as Tracy, and the best of them is Breckin Meyer as the stoner. His laid back, don’t give a shit attitude about anything serves him well, and it’s something he’d hone to perfection in his later career. Still, that pony tail, though. Yikes.
As for Mr. Englund, I really get the feeling he simply showed up, performed like a trained seal, got his fish treat and left. There was no fire in him, nothing close to his other performances. Given the script, however, it’s no surprise he had little enthusiasm.
While not the worst of the franchise, it’s a bitter and disappointing ending to a series that had such potential. That the studios had to milk it and churn out a Nightmare movie almost every year since the first release, truly buried any chance it had of being a timeless franchise.