From the very first musical chorus in the soundtrack you know “NOES 6: The Final Nightmare” is not like the others. For one, it’s the franchise’s first entry in the ’90s and the soundtrack is all alt-rock. Then again, the complete lack of subtlety in Death Foreshadowing is still very prominent, as well as Freddy’s ever-increasing wise-assing. Wait, did the girl just say she didn’t like to be touch? And did that hearing-impaired kid mention something about his abusive parents? Hmm, I wonder if that kid’s obsession with video games will come back to haunt him. Oy vey.
Also very noticeable is that the kids are no longer just dumb teens waiting to be slaughtered, they’re now aggressive and angst-ridden teens waiting to be slaughtered. Despite the increase in anger and “let’s get it on” mentality, the kids still remain atypically stupid, which means they’ll still die. But at least they bicker and make asses of themselves with supposedly “clever” dialogue meant to showcase their “90-ness” in the meantime. Once more, the question of Freddy’s resurrection is no longer an issue, as the writers didn’t even bother with an explanation this time around. He’s just…back. Uh, right. Now the only possible original touch is waiting to see what groovy ways they’ve come up to “kill him for good” this time.
The fact that the movie was released back in 1991 as a gimmick tie-in with 3D glasses probably tells you all you need to know about the movie. Made two years after “The Dream Child”, which set the stage for the series’ transition to silly comedy rather than horror, “NOES 6” continues to go for silly slapstick instead of scaring the audience. Now nothing more than a shell of its original self, the franchise has become an in-joke. The storyline, about Freddy having a child that was orphaned, reinforces this notion.
The story is this: John Doe, a teen suffering from amnesia, doesn’t know that he is the last of the Elm Street children. Having escaped the town, John is now under the care of therapist Maggie (Lisa Zane), who, we come to learn, is actually Freddy’s daughter. (Why didn’t I warn you about possible spoilers? Because I don’t care enough about this film to warn you ahead of time. So sue me.) We also learn that John hadn’t escaped, but that Freddy had purposely “sent him out” into the world in order to lure in more victims. Having finished off the last of the Elm Street kids in the 10 years since the events of the previous installment, Freddy is now itching to slay more kids.
Despite a surprising twist that explains Freddy’s motivation for his original child-killing spree, “NOES 6” remains laughably lame. Even the presence of the inexplicably sexy Lisa Zane and the always engaging Yapphet Kotto (TV’s “Homicide”) as a dream expert fails to liven things up. The direction by Rachel Talalay, who was a producer on the series for some time, is choppy and oftentimes incomprehensible. The running time, just a shade under 85 minutes of actual movie, means there’s little time for characterization or development. The kids are introduced with their quirks — along with their very obvious vices — and everything else is left to the imagination. Or to 3D glasses, if you will.
Speaking of which, while 3D technology might have been “groovy” back in 1991 and in the theaters, it just looks silly here. If anything, “NOES 6” looks less polish than its ’80s predecessors, which is something I never thought I’d say. Even the dream sequences, usually the saving grace of the “NOES” films, are flat and uninteresting this time around. Gone are the surrealism and the unreal quality of impossible visuals, replaced by childish fantasies like being trapped in a video game. Don’t even get me started on the complete obliteration of the wall that exists between events in the dream world and those in the real world. Here, it doesn’t even matter.
“NOES 6” is better left forgotten, thrown away in the junk heap of sequels that should never have been made. The script was written by Michael de Luca and Rachel Talalay, two “executive types” who are probably used to running a movie production, but not writing an actual movie. It shows. “NOES 6” might just be the worst of the bunch, and an inspired cameo by original star Johnny Depp only adds to the goofiness of the whole thing.
Rachel Talalay (director) / Wes Craven, Rachel Talalay, Michael De Luca (screenplay)
CAST: Robert Englund …. Freddy Krueger
Lisa Zane …. Maggie
Shon Greenblatt …. John Doe
Lezlie Deane …. Tracy
Ricky Dean Logan …. Carlos
Breckin Meyer …. Spencer
Yaphet Kotto …. Doc