Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Film Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 - The Dream Master (1988)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (Review)
United States/1988
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes 

"...a decent fantasy/horror/comedy film."

Kristen, Joey, and Kincaid have been released from Westin Hills hospital and try to lead normal lifes as high school students. Kristen's nightmares return, as well as Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), and she accidentally brings both old and new friends into her nightmares, including Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox), a frequent daydreamer.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master features the biggest changed in the series so far. The Dream Master is a fantasy/horror film with strong comedy elements. The fantasy elements aren't as creative or fun as Dream Warriors; in fact, most of the dream sequences are underwhelming. The film isn't as scary as before, especially Freddy Krueger as he takes a more comedic role -- almost every line of dialogue from Krueger is a punch line, and although most are humorous, they take away from Krueger's nightmarish presence.

The story initially follows Kristen and then other survivors, until Kristen's powers are transferred to Alice. Then, Freddy Krueger uses Alice to capture her friends. By using Alice, Krueger is no longer limited to the original children of Elm Street. Most of the kills are plain and forgettable; however, there are a few scenes that use fantastic visual effects, including some wicked transformations. The new kids are quickly introduced and have almost no significance - they are never developed in any way, I even had trouble remembering their names. Unfortunately, most of the film is generic and cheesy, and it leads to an underwhelming ending.

The acting is good. The cast get the job done, but they never shine because their characters are very shallow. Robert Englund has some sinister charisma, unfortunately his character is no longer scary. The writing is lazy and sloppy, it's cheesy and cliché; the story feels like a cash-in. The special effects are great, even spectacular, during some scenes; they are unfortunately underused.

Overall, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is a decent fantasy/horror/comedy film. It has moments where it shines, but it is severely underwhelming considering the greatness of the past three installments. The fantasy feels rushed and uncreative, the comedy is overwhelming, in turn, making the film less scary. For those looking to kill time and to be somewhat entertained, I recommend renting or streaming.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some nudity.

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