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Logline: Taking the form of Freddy Krueger, an ancient evil enters the real world to stalk the cast and crew responsible for the Nightmare on Elm Street films.

This is not your typical Nightmare on Elm Street film.  Wes Craven’s New Nightmare breathes new life into a dead franchise.  Returning as writer and director for the first time since the original, Wes Craven concocts an imaginative horror fantasy.  New Nightmare brings his iconic character, Freddy Krueger into the real world to stalk the star of the original Nightmare, Heather Langenkamp.

In some ways, New Nightmare can be seen as a precursor to Craven’s Scream (1996), another self-reflective horror film that breaks the fourth wall.  New Nightmare is fascinating on many levels.  Craven wisely builds the suspense.  The film’s grand finale does falter a bit but all the buildup is great.

Even more so than the original Nightmare, Craven constantly toys with the viewer’s perception of reality and it is often difficult to decipher whether what we are seeing is a nightmare or reality.  The film raises many interesting questions about the nature of horror stories in our world and the effects of horror films on those who create them.

Heather Langenkamp really steps up to the plate for this film and delivers a tour de performance as…well, Heather Langenkamp.  There are many other familiar faces, including John Saxon, Robert Englund, and Wes Craven himself.  New Nightmare has many references and even clever recreations of scenes from the original Nightmare.

Despite a somewhat disappointing finale and a musical score that is overdone at times, New Nightmare is an often underrated gem from horror master Wes Craven.  The film has a unique concept that was years ahead of its time.  With Wes Craven’s recent passing, there is no better time than now to see it.

Rating (out of ****): ***