esides Freddy Krueger, the Teen Slasher franchise "A
Nightmare On Elm Street" is known for one other thing: the uselessness of
adults. Teen Slasher films have always found adults to be relatively clueless,
but "NOES" takes the cluelessness to a whole new level. As was the
case in the original, the adults in "NOES 2: Freddy's Revenge" are
not only clueless, they're also antagonistic toward our heroes -- the young
teens suffering under nightly assaults by knife-for-fingers maniac Freddy
"NOES 2" picks up 5 years after the events of
the original "NOES".
We learn that Nancy, having battled and (supposedly defeated) Freddy, is now
confined to a mental institution. (She's never seen in the sequel.) We meet
Jesse (Mark Patton), whose family has moved into Nancy's old house. Jesse, we
learn, is having violent nightmares about Freddy, who seems to want/need Jesse
for something. But for what nefarious purpose? Or is the better question: what
did Jack Sholder and David Chaskin think they were doing? Or the much more
crucial question: Where the hell is Wes Craven when you need him?
Since I am reviewing "NOES 2" with plans to do
parts 3 to 7 in relatively short order, I must speak about the series as, well,
a series, and not as individual movies. With its one constant villain and
established rules, the "NOES" series has managed to distinguish itself
from its Slasher brethrens. For instance, we know Freddy is a dream being, which
means he haunts and kills in his dreams, where anything he imagines can take
place. Also, he has no physicality, which means the only way to survive Freddy
is to not go to sleep, an act that is next to impossible, hence the
movie's one main goal -- stay awake or you will die!
Having said that, "NOES 2" breaks all of Wes
Craven's rules in an attempt to steer the mythology in a whole new direction.
Writer Chaskin and director Sholder ("Arachnid")
seems to have seen the original, but could care less about the rules Craven set
down. Freddy not only achieves physicality in the waking world in this sequel,
but he also has
psychokinesis, which allows him to move objects, closes doors, etc. These new
additions are drastic departures from the original, and they also destroy the
series' one constant theme: Stay awake or you will die! In this case, even if
you stay awake, you might still die. Where's the fun in that?
With the whole "stay awake or die" theme out the
window, Chaskin gives us what is supposed to be a psychological thriller. As he
loses more and more sleep to his nightmares, Jesse starts to have trouble coping
with the real world. This results in his parents thinking he's on drugs
(remember, parents are adults, and thus really stupid), his fellow schoolmates
think he's a bit "weird", and Jesse's mental state slowly start to
unravel. After Jesse's sadistic gym teacher is brutally killed in the showers,
we are supposed to think that Jesse may be the culprit, having lost his mind.
Chaskin wants us to consider that it's Jesse doing all of
these murderous deeds and not because Freddy, in an attempt to be
"reborn" into the physical world through Jesse, is slowly but surely co-opting
Jesse's mind. Well there's a problem with that: We know Freddy is behind
it. For God's sake, this is a sequel to a movie about a supernatural serial
killer. Why in the world did Chaskin think we would believe anything other than
Freddy's involvement in the murders? It boggles the mind.
Teen Slasher films aren't known for their strong leads, but
Mark Patton, who looks like a young Richard Dean Anderson (then again, every
other male lead in the '80s looked like a young Richard Dean Anderson), is very
good as Jesse. Patton convincingly portrays Jesse's slowly deteriorating mental
state, and I'm surprised to discover that the actor hasn't work since "NOES
2". His co-stars, Robert Rusler as wiseass Ron and Kim Myers as
love interest Lisa, have worked steadily through the years. What a shocker,
especially considering that '80s singer Tiffany-lookalike Myers has the charisma
of a poisoned snail. Even for '80s standards, Myers is just atrocious as an
"NOES 2" is certainly not a bad movie if you
consider it as an individual film without the "NOES" name attached.
Unfortunately it is part of the "NOES" series, and as such its
attempts to create its own path fails miserably. Gone are the horror elements,
including the twisted world of dreams. The film doesn't seem to even care about
scaring you, and this is most notable when Freddy achieves physical form and
attacks a bunch of high school kids at a pool party. Like this potentially
bloody scene, the rest of "NOES 2" never fulfills its mission to give
us over-the-top violence.
If anything, "NOES 2" feels like a PG version of
Which, in a movie about a supernatural killer with a pizza for a face and blades
for fingers, is not a good thing.