Pros: a few good moments
Cons: lame deaths, silly villain, bland characters, uninteresting
After A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 became the highest grossing film in the franchise to that point, a sequel was rushed out. The Dream Child made less than half of its predecessor's gross, and is one of the weaker entries in the series.
Alice (Lisa Wilcox), Nightmare 4's heroine, has been dealing well with the loss of her brother and all of her friends. Her crush Dan (Danny Hassel) is now her boyfriend, her alcoholic dad (Nicholas Mele) is going to AA meetings, and she's graduating high school with a new group of friends: fashion model Greta (Erika Anderson), comic book geek Mark (Joe Seely), and swimmer Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter). But after Alice gets down with Dan, she starts to have strange dreams. This time, Freddy is born again as a misshapen baby who slithers into a fedora and red-and-green sweater, undergoes a rapid growth spurt, and emerges as a fully-grown Freddy, proclaiming, "It's a boyyyyy!"
Dan is the first to fall victim to the resurrected Krueger, but the question is, how? Alice wasn't asleep at the time, and Freddy's only able to get to her friends through her. Turns out Alice is pregnant! Now she must convince her friends that she's not completely bonkers, have an abortion debate, and fight to raise her child, despite the efforts of Dan's parents to take the baby for their own - they "got a call from Dr. Moore. He said that Alice was hysterical and that she was having paranoid delusions." Doctor-patient confidentiality? Psh! And when all that's done, she's gotta fight Freddy.
The idea of Freddy using the child's dreams to get to his victims is an interesting one, and there are a few good moments; the sequence in the asylum showing Freddy's conception, the result of a nun mistakenly being locked in a room with a hundred maniacs, is pretty creepy. However, the serious, menacing Freddy of the original Nightmare is completely lost by this point; instead, he's a jokester, spouting off inane one-liners which ruin any fright potential. One death, involving a motorcycle fusing with a character, is gory and could have been disturbing, were it not for Freddy shouting the whole time, "This boy feels the need for speed! Fuel injection! Power drive! Fast lane! Better not dream and drive!" Later on, he leaves a note on Alice's refrigerator that reads, "Die, b!tch!" At least it wasn't spelled out in magnets.
(Spoilers ahead!) In one sequence, reminiscent of the lame "Wizard Master" death from Nightmare 3, Freddy rides a skateboard in pursuit of Mark, who turns into a superhero and blasts him with his guns. Suddenly, the bullets bounce off of Freddy, who quips, "Faster than a bastard maniac. More powerful than a loco-madman. It's... Super Freddy!" The color drains out of Mark, now a 2-D drawing, as Freddy slices him into pieces (of paper), crowing, "Told ya comic books was bad for ya!" (End spoiler)
The Dream Child was trimmed to avoid an X rating, affecting two of the death sequences. The extra footage does make a difference, as it's clearer what exactly is going on in the unrated version. Unfortunately, the unrated cut is only available on VHS. Still, improved deaths don't exactly make this a good movie.
Robert Englund does the best he can, but he's not given anything good to work with. Nicholas Mele is surprisingly good as Alice's dad; he actually shows signs of character development, and it's obvious how much he cares for his daughter. I particularly liked the scene where he tells Alice, "It'll be nice to hear a boy playing in the house again," a reference to his son who was bumped off in Nightmare 4.
The rest of the acting is generally poor, the characters are bland, Freddy's makeup is the worst in the series thus far, and the elaborate dream sequences are quite obviously just that; there is no blending of the nightmare and real worlds. The scariest thing about the movie is probably Whitby Hertford, who plays Alice's kid. In addition to being a bad actor, he's one of the creepiest-looking kids I've ever seen.
The idea of exploring Freddy's backstory had the potential to be interesting, but it seems like the writers didn't really know what to do with it, and it falls by the wayside. I must also mention the song that plays over the closing credits, Kool Moe Dee's LL Cool J diss "Let's Go." Great song, and he destroys LL, but it is wildly out-of-place.
Unscary, unfunny, and uninteresting, The Dream Child left me with a feeling of disappointment... and a venom directed at LL Cool J.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Freddy vs. Jason
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy
A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)