And so we reach the “final” film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Final? Sure. While the studio may have intended for this to be its final stroll down Elm Street, it wasn’t. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare releases three years later and a remake of the original film shows up in 2010. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this movie even if it wasn’t the conclusion. Released two years after the fifth, the onscreen text before the film starts lets the audience know that we are now 10 years in the future. There’s been some online debate as to whether or not this is 10 years from the end of the fifth film or the release of this one, but either way, it’s in the future.
Springwood is practically demolished; Freddy has rid the town of kids entirely. In a nearby town, John Doe shows up at a youth shelter with only a newspaper clipping and no memory of how long he’s been awake or who he actually is. Turns out he’s the very last kid from Springwood and it’s Freddy’s goal to use John to find new kids for him to seek revenge on. Along with a few other kids from the shelter and a psychiatrist named Maggie, John revisits Springwood in the hopes of figuring out who he is and how to stop dreaming of Freddy.
A few surprise cameos show up in this film, which was awesome, and Breckin Meyer plays Spencer, a troubled teen, in his first theatrical role. Aside from that, I’ll start with why this film worked. The plot was intriguing enough, certainly more than the fifth film, and the cast did a fine job with the acting. What really worked was turning Springwood into the town that time forgot. Every adult in the town is now deranged and craving children. The local carnival features no kids and the food is long since decaying. The teacher still stands up in front of an empty classroom to teach “Freddy 101.” Lyrics from Freddy’s theme appear in graffiti throughout the town. Springwood has gone the way of Manhattan in Jason 8, minus the gang of thieves/rapists. Turning Springwood into this mess made it almost a villain of its own. The creepy vibe it put off added to the fear of the film and enriched the experience. Plus, the fact that Freddy rid the entire town of children is pretty freaking scary.
After barely evolving Freddy in the fifth film, this movie more than picks up the slack and gives us an entire backstory for Freddy. While Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers have a small backstory, they barely evolve throughout their franchises. And that’s fine. Freddy, however, has always been evolving and changing, possibly because he himself can change forms. This installment gave us a look at Freddy as a youth and also as a grown man just before he died. Each piece of information added to the Freddy puzzle and made his revenge quest more developed. None of Freddy’s actions are/were justifiable, so this backstory showed us more of the man behind the razor glove with the intention of making him even more scary. It works and it made the film that much more fun to watch.
Aside from the good things, I found the film to be a bit slow and the story to be lacking compared to some of its prior outings. There was some 3D technology used throughout that really bugged me. 3D graphics in the 80s/90s were not good and it’s distracting. A few plot tweaks and maybe a bit more interesting of a cast, and this film would have excelled. Even though it only grabbed a 5, I was pleased to see Freddy bounce back from the fifth film and I look forward to Wes Craven’s return to the franchise for the seventh.
If you liked Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, you might also like A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Wes Craven's New Nightmare and Freddy vs. Jason.