We follow up the awesomeness of Part III with the semi-crap of Part IV.
We’re back with Kristen, who seems to be leading a normal, teenage life along with Kincaid and Joey, and Kristen has a new group of friends, even – the shy Alice, Alice’s brother Rick who is also Kristen’s boyfriend, smarty pants Sheila, and exercise obsessed Debbie.
(Kristen in this one is played by some other chick, and not Patricia Arquette like in Part III.)
Everything’s fun and games until Kristen feels that Freddy’s coming back, which doesn’t sit well with Kincaid and Joey, who tell her to leave it alone and that Freddy’s dead. Joey (who can now speak) tells her that if she keeps thinking about Krueger all the time, she might actually stir him up, and so they advise her to drop it.
Now, we all know what happens to people who doubt Freddy returning in this franchise, so…sayonara, Joey and Kincaid. It was nice knowing you (especially Joey, who I thought was adorable when I was a kid).
Freddy gives Kincaid the Nancy’s Dad treatment, and Joey gets lured into paying attention to a beautiful girl swimming in his waterbed who then disappears, allowing Freddy to drown Joey in his own waterbed. You’d think the idiot would’ve learned by now not to trust pretty women in his dreams. Jesus.
Meanwhile, we focus a bit on Alice, who is sweet, shy and seems to have a well-meaning weirdo for a brother.
Now, if any of you just thought, “Sweep the leg,” then you get picked first to be on my kickball team. Yeah, Rick’s big into martial arts. Anyways, Kristen tells Alice about these freaky dreams she’s having. And when Kincaid and Joey don’t show up for school, Kristen, Alice, Dan – Alice’s crush, and Rick take a little sidetrip to 1428 Elm Street.
By now the house is falling down and the other members of the group don’t believe Kristen’s story, but when Kristen gets home, she has a fight with her mother at dinner and then discovers Mom’s drugged her dinner which is totally cool, except not. Kristen’s mom surely hasn’t learned much from the third movie, where she basically tried to throw money at Westin Hills to “fix” Kristen and seemed to prefer not having her around.
So Kristen stumbles upstairs and falls into a…pleasant dream?
Oh, yeah, not so much, because Freddy shows up to chase her. And chase her he does, straight into a boiler room, where he tells her that she’s the very last Elm Street kid, and that believe it or not, Freddy doesn’t want to stop carving up kids any time soon, so he needs her to bring someone into the dream to continue on with his murderous ways. Finally, out of desperation, Kristen screams for Alice, who shows up in Kristen’s dream, horrified, and Freddy tosses Kristen into a boiling lake of fire.
Kristen’s last goodbye to Alice is pretty much, “Dude, I screwed you over hardcore. Sorry ’bout that, but here’s my powers, hopefully that’ll square us up.” If I were Alice? I’d be pissed.
Poor Alice. She wakes up, grabs Rick the Kung Fu Artiste, and heads over to Kristen’s place, where she’s roasting in her room.
Alice begins to notice a change in her personality; she begins to smoke, even though she didn’t – but Kristen didI! And then she accidentally sucks poor, nerdy Sheila into a dream.
He sucks the life out of Sheila, which is…definitely not the way I want to go out, really. Eeek.
By now, Alice is totally freaked. She blames Sheila’s death on herself and pretty much everyone thinks she’s totally, one hundred percent lost it.
But that’s okay, because Freddy’s about to strike again – except this time, Rick and Freddy are gonna get it on in the dojo, man.
Rick fights an invisible Freddy (lame) who just eventually powers up his glove, which rams into Rick’s chest. Which is sad, considering that Rick’s been uber-supportive of both Kristen and Alice, who deeply he thinks are both nutjobs now, but still sticks by ’em. Poor Rick. That’s okay, because at his funeral, he pops out of his casket and ribs Alice a little, before settling down for his eternal rest (no, really).
So, Alice and Dan team up, and convince Dynasty-loving Debbie that yes, Freddy is real, and they set out to stop him. Alice has figured out that Freddy can only access her friends through her dreams, but she really, really fails at this whole not sleeping thing. Like, she doesn’t even bother trying. She doesn’t go through the No-Doze or Diet Coke stage or anything like that. She just works a few doubles at her job waiting tables at the diner. Good job, Alice!
But that’s okay, because she totally screws Debbie over. See, Debbie’s afraid of bugs, and you know Freddy Krueger would never capitalize on that by turning her into a giant cockroach or anything.
Debbie’s death is oddly enough, one of my favorite deaths in the Nightmare franchise. I know that sounds odd to say, but as someone who is actually afraid of some bugs (like cockroaches – egads), it was both horrifying and shockingly well done. It doesn’t just end with her arms, though, pretty soon she’s half-roach, half-human. So I’m feeling that the word “Kafkaesque” applies in this situation. Also, you can totally tell she loves Dynasty just by the hair.
So Freddy squishes her in a roach motel. All of this because Alice fell asleep in a movie theater and then got sucked into the movie screen.
Alice, to her credit, has been running around with Dan, attempting to save Debbie, but Krueger’s had them running in circles. They see Krueger appear in the middle of the road as they’re driving Dan’s truck, and Alice has the brilliant idea to slam on the brakes and merely flatten Freddy – because yes, it’s that easy to kill him. Er…
Well, it doesn’t work out quite that way, as Alice wakes up in the truck with Dan, the truck now having been wrapped around a tree trunk and Dan’s seriously injured. He goes to the hospital, where Alice is informed she has fifteen minutes before Dan goes into surgery and is put under. Determined to take on Freddy so he can’t hurt Dan, Alice gears up:
Yeah, she takes a little bit of every piece she has left of someone and basically ties it on, then jumps through her window before Freddy can get his chopping skills to work on Dan.
Now, here’s where Part IV really starts to suck: Dan comes out of surgery, so he disappears, but Alice is left behind to fight Freddy. After a boring display of jabs from Freddy and Kristen’s gymnastic skills from Alice, Alice is left in a corner, almost defeated. There she recalls – from nowhere, and with only one previous offhand, blink and you’ll miss it reference from the first part of the movie – a rhyme that gives her the tool to kill Freddy: showing him his own reflection.
Um, is that a joke?
Basically, all the grief and heartache of this film and three films previous could’ve been ended by showing Freddy his reflection in your Cover Girl compact?
Freddy staring at his reflection causes the souls inside him to revolt. See, Freddy runs on soul power and that’s why he’s so desperate to keep killing all these kids, so he can keep running forever. The souls literally tear their way out of him and Alice and Dan keep living, this time happily ever after…or so you think!
This one was directed by Renny Harlin, which isn’t really a good sign, plus the plot is all wonky. Yes, you’ve got a strong female lead, but the problem is Alice isn’t ever in any danger until the end, since Freddy needs her to get all his other victims. Secondly, Dan and Alice magically become boyfriend and girlfriend randomly, with no signs of any chemistry or boyfriend/girlfriend type affection or actions, which gives you a big feeling of “what the hell”. Also, you miss out on some of the terror of the secondary characters, since they’re never terrorized by Krueger until they’re killed.
Part of the joys of the original and the third were that a group of kids were all having the same kinds of dreams, and the group consensus that Alice and Kristen are just nutty wears a little thin. This was the first Nightmare, I think, that focuses more on how the kids die than all of those other minor things like plot and dialogue and whatnot. The cool deaths have the prime attention paid to them, and while that’s cool, it’s not entirely fulfilling – or scary.