Nightmare on Elm Street 5 - The Dream Child

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Kids...always a disappointment

Aug 17, 2004 (Updated Aug 17, 2004)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

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Pros:Good effects, decent acting, good idea

Cons:idea poorly executed, not even a bit scary, poor deaths, few deaths

The Bottom Line: Dream Child is recommended for fans of the series, it is one of the better sequels, but it could have been much better

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

Dream Child was the lowest grossing of all the Nightmare movies, possibly due to Freddy overkill. Due to the TV series and over marketing of the character, I guess people were just getting sick of the Springwood slasher. Released a year after The Dream Master, this was technically the last 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movie, seeing as the sixth movie in the series was just called 'Freddy's Dead' a fact that illustrates how famous Freddy had become.

Returning to this entry is Alice Johnson (Lisa Wilcox - Watchers Reborn), now her and Dan (Danny Hassel - Columbo) are an item, and it is their graduation from High School. Dan is being touted as a great prospect for the local football team, but before he does anything he is planning on taking Alice on a holiday to Europe. They have got some new friends at the school as well, Greta (Erika Anderson - Ascension) a potential model pushed by her demanding mother, Mark (Joe Seely - Shag) a hopeful comic artist and Yvonne (Kelly Jo Minter - The Lost Boys) a hopeful swimming champion.

But the happy times take a turn for the worse when Alice leaves to go to work. She has a strange nightmare where she sees Freddy being concieved and born, and the baby Freddy in the church where she killed the demon in part 4, where it crawls into his clothes and resurects her worst fear. Freddy's mother starts to reveal how to beat him, but Freddy slams a door between her and Alice.
Naturally worried, she phones Dan and tells him what happened, she doesn't know how it happened though, because she was wide awake when the Nightmare began. On the way to the Crave Inn (get it?) diner she works, Dan is killed in an 'accident'.
Fearing the worst, Alice warns all of her friends. Naturally they think she is nuts, but that night at dinner Greta discovers she is anything but, when she has a meeting with Fred.
Mark is starting to come around to the idea of Freddy being real, but Yvonne is still highly sceptical. When taken into hospital, Alice discovers that she is in fact pregnant with Dan's child. When she realises that it is the baby's dreams that Freddy is invading, she goes more than a little hysterical.
To further complicate her life, the doctor that seen her go mad phones Dan's parents, and they show up at her house and demand that she gives them the baby. Naturally she tells them where to go and continues to try and think of ways to stop Freddy.
But in her dreams she meets her baby, who is called Jacob (Whitby Hertford - Poltergeist 2), it turns out that Freddy has been talking to Jacob, acting as a father figure of sorts, hoping to pervert his mind and make him like Freddy.

Mark does some digging into the history of the whole saga, and learns that Amanda Krueger was never buried, because her body was never found. Guessing that finding her will bring an end to Freddy once and for all, they plan to look for her body at the asylum where she was raped, next to Westin Hills. But that night Mark is killed, and only when she survives an attack by Freddy does Yvonne come round to the idea that the scarred one is real. In the real world she sets off to find Amanda's corpse, while Alice goes head to head with Freddy in the dream world, not only for the fate of herself and her friends, but also for her unborn child...

Acting in this entry is actually pretty well done for the most part. Wilcox is a decent enough heroine for a horror movie, and most of her supporting cast are at least competent. By now Freddy has become a joke, but Bob Englund still occasionally brings a glimmer of menace to the role, mainly throught the way he moves in Greta's death scene.

The music in the movie is mostly similar to that found in part 4, without as much of the pop music played during the film. It is mildly creepy in some scenes, but it is nothing compared to the original movie's chilling score.

Special effects in the movie are good in some scenes, but pretty embarassing in others. Freddy looks pretty good, but the scene where he force feeds Greta until she is fat has one of the worst looking ending effects ever, with bloated face Greta just looking stupid. The scene where the motorbike 'fuses' Dan into it is pretty well done though.

This movie caused me quite a bit of frustration. Not because it is terrible, on the contrary it is actually quite watchable and entertaining in parts, but it actually had potential to be more than that. The idea of him stalking in the dreams of the child was a brilliant little idea, it is just a shame that they didn't do very well at building it up, I mean the title of the movie gives the thing away, and that it wasn't executed in a movie where Freddy was genuinely threatening.
You see, this is another one of the 'joker' Freddy movies, where he is anything but scary. While this doesn't make the movie terrible, I'm sure that almost everyone prefers the serious Freddy of the first Nightmare to the character he was portrayed as in most of the sequels.

Had they not given away the whole point of the movie in the title, and treated it as a serious horror movie, they could have had a really good movie on their hands. Sadly, they ended up with nothing more than an above decent movie.

For a start, there are a minimal amount of deaths in the movie. As morbid as that may sound for being a fault, it is a slasher movie, at least more than 3 deaths are to be expected. While the original movie only killed three (with a debateable 4th), it was a smart horror movie. By this time people only tuned in to see Freddy killing people.
The other way the first movie got around the minimal bodycount was by making the deaths memorable and brutal. In this, the only death that could have been classic Freddy was Greta's , where he force fed her her own guts. The scene is quite creepy in some aspects, but as I mentioned, the crappy effect for Greta's bloated face, coupled with the fact that Freddy goes through some of the scene dressed as a waiter kind of spoils the impact.

The other death that was slightly effective, was when the bike started to fuse with Dan. While I say it is effetive, it is out of place in a movie like this. Had this been about some sort of mechanical menace, that scene would have been brilliantly disturbing, here it is just out of place. Freddy is supposed to kill with claws, hence him having them on his fingers. Mark's death, while it slightly expands on the Dream Warriors idea, just turns incredibly lame when Freddy turns into 'super Freddy'.

The fact that what exactly Freddy is doing to Jacob isn't really made clear also ruins the movie a bit. It is said that he "wants to make him like him", I was left wondering if it meant Freddy was trying to turn him into a dream demon thing, or if he wanted him to grow up to be a serial child killer.
Also up in the air is why her unborn child manifests itself as a 10 year old, why not some more useful age like 18 or something, where it could stand up to Freddy?
You also have to wonder how Yvonne, Mark and Greta got to be friends with Alice and Dan yet have never even heard of Freddy Krueger, despite him being a local legend and having killed half of the students in their year a year previously.

The one thing that actually properly disapointed me, and didn't just bother me because the movie had potential, was the ending. Part 3 already explored the whole Amanda Krueger thing, and this really doesn't expand on it much, and while it doesn't contradict much (except why this time she chose to manifest herself as a younger woman) I just feel it seems rushed and not well thought out.

The funny thing is, even with all of this, the movie still manages to be at least fairly entertaining. The movie may have been shot back-to-back with part 4, because it really has that feel to it, and that sort of thing seemed to happen quite a bit in the 80s. The movie has the same feel as part 4, in that it is almost completely stupid, from start to finish, which while this makes it watchable in a comical sort of way, does make it frustrating seeing as it was based on a good idea. However, when compared to most of the tripe slasher movies released in the 80s, it does at least have the presence of Freddy and a decent budget to make it a worthwhile distraction for fans of the series and the genre. Like I said with part 4, if your only exposure to Freddy has been in his more serious incarnations, then you probably won't like this, however, if you grew up with him as seen in the sequels, then this is probably the best out of all of the 'joker Freddy' movies, in that having him haunt the dreams of the unborn child is at least a new idea.

The movie isn't great by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have a few good points to it to ensure it at least gets an average rating. For a start, it doesn't feature any completely story breaking elements (ala part 3), and it does have some good effects and decent acting. One touch I also liked, is when Alice's dad, now recovering from his alcoholism, mentions that it will be nice to hear a boy playing in the house again, I liked this seeing as the actor in question (Nicholas Mele) put in a pretty convincing turn at being upset when Alice's brother died in part 4, and this throwaway comment at least referencing her brother was a nice touch.

So yes, I think average is a fair score. The movie could have made a positive score, had it explored the great concept of the child's dreams in a better way, and been made as a serious sequel to part 1. But as it stands, The Dream Child is an entertaining enough entry into the series, and is was probably the best, at that point, sequel to the original movie.

Fans of Freddy, especially joker Freddy should try to see this, it is one of the better entries into the series, and it is a shame they didn't come up with the basic idea for this movie sooner and exploit it better. Fans of horror movies, well the film isn't very scary at all, but a TV viewing would be recommended.

Other Related Reviews
Nightmare on Elm Street
Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge
Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master

Recommend this product? Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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