A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master ★★★

"Elm Street's last brat. Farewell."

This is it: the moment Freddy went from being the stuff of nightmares to the stuff of shits and giggles. Not that that’s entirely a bad thing, but we’re dealing with a very different child murderer here. Director Renny Harlin has expressed that he wanted Freddy to be like James Bond in this film, a ‘cool guy’, and that approach makes for a fun if ridiculous film.

The Dream Master picks up where Dream Warriors left off, with Tuesday Knight (what a name!) replacing Patricia Arquette as Kristen Parker. But not for long. Freddy dispatches the surviving Dream Warriors post-haste to focus on a new group of teens. Alice (Lisa Wilcox) inherits Kristen’s ability to pull others into her dreams, and is being used by Freddy to round up a new bunch of victims. These kids are genuinely likable, from Karate Rick, who impersonates the Big Bopper when he’s not casually waxing poetic with a classmate on Kafka and Goethe, to Weightlifting Debbie, who is surprisingly good natured in her taunting of the asthmatic nerd Sheila.

Some of the effects set pieces are absurd – particularly Freddy’s resurrection by flaming dog piss, and the wonderfully cheesy Freddy pizza ("Rick, you little meatball") – but they’re well-executed and the film looks very stylish in a music video way – the panning shot from Freddy’s elongated silhouette to his face when he’s first resurrected is a series highlight. Yet the movie sleepwalks through its plot, lending an unintended dreaminess that also makes the whole thing feel a bit weightless.

Freddy may not have quite jumped the shark here (although he uses his glove to pretend to be one, if that counts) but he raps over the credits in a song by The Fat Boys. That should tell you everything you need to know about the tone of this fun but flawed film.