The Nightmare on Elm Street franchise has reached its sixth chapter, the promised final installment, and if its quality is any indication, that’s likely a good decision. For the most part, I’ve liked the series, and while there have been a couple of duds, they’ve been mostly interesting and at least were visually engaging. The latter is true of Freddy’s Dead, but it’s not in the least bit interesting. If anything, it’s funny. This is a cheesy horror movie.
Completely neglecting any of the still-alive human characters, Freddy’s Dead decides to follow an entirely new group of people. What connection does the film have to the earlier installments? Well, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is one. He’s a child murderer who was killed and now he haunts the dreams of teenagers. He’s about the only link that holds the films together at this point, and here the filmmakers aren’t even trying to tangentially link this one to the rest. It basically exists to put Freddy to bed for good, and to explain his back story even further so that we can stop wondering about it.
Was anyone wondering about it, though? That’s something I have to question. We know the gist of what happened to bring Freddy to Earth — his mother, a nun, was raped hundreds of times, leading to his birth, and then he killed children, was killed, and now lurks in the dreams, waiting to seek his revenge — and isn’t that enough? Why demystify something that used to be terrifying? You’re only doing yourself a disservice for when you inevitably want to once again resurrect him.
The plot: “John Doe” (Shon Greenblatt) has amnesia, but is pretty sure that if he goes back to sleep, Freddy is going to kill him. He finds himself at a youth shelter. Here, he meets a few other teens, a counselor, and a doctor. Most of them are going to head to Springwood, some on purpose, some accidentally, which is where Freddy Krueger “lives.” I’m not entirely sure the rules by which Freddy has to operate, but apparently any new victims have to first appear in this place so that he can kill them.
One by one, the teenagers are slowly picked off. Some of these deaths might make a Top 5 list for the whole series, assuming you’re able to tolerate Freddy being turned into even less of a frightening presence and more of a prankster. One such death involves one of the characters being dragged into a television, placing him inside the world of a video game, only Freddy has the joystick, sitting there laughing as he moves it around and presses the buttons. It’s creative and quite funny, but not at all scary.
The film does one other thing of note: there’s a stretch of about 15 minutes in which 3D glasses should be worn by audience members. A character in the film puts them on in a dream, and it transforms the world. We, in turn, are supposed to put on the glasses to see this stranger place. In practice, it basically just gives the filmmakers a chance to poke things out at the audience, but as a slightly interactive device, it makes this sequence stand out.
Oh, and we also learn that Freddy has (or had) a kid. Yes, there’s another Krueger running around, which proves a mild point of mystery, but in reality its reveal doesn’t even matter. It just adds to the back story. This might be the most plot heavy Nightmare on Elm Street yet, but that’s only because of the amount of unnecessary flashbacks we get throughout. We don’t need to know any of this. It adds nothing to the character and takes away the air of mystery that helped make him feel menacing. By the end, we’re laughing at a character we once feared.
You’ll also notice a couple of interesting cameos scattered throughout the film. Alice Cooper shows up as a teacher at a school where there are no children — the whole town of Springwood is like this; Freddy killed all the children and the adults went crazy — and Johnny Depp shows up on a television set in an anti-drug infomercial. Tom Arnold and Roseanne Barr also have cameos. These might take you out of the film, but with a tone so cheesy anyway, this shouldn’t really matter.
Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare is the promised final installment in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and with it and the previous chapter both not really being worth watching, it might be smart for it to be done. Freddy is no longer scary, the films have gotten increasingly thinner on plot and lighter in tone, and while the special effects gets showcased and the deaths are generally creative, that’s all the franchise has going for it at this point. “Freddy’s Dead,” the title says, so let’s let him rest for a while.