‘Dream Warriors’: Third Nightmare Outing Vastly Improves Series

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Chuck Russell’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ – Courtesy of New Line Cinema


Dream Warriors ‘ script is proficient yet frustrating. Attributed to four writers, including Bruce Wagner and the amazing Frank Darabont, Dream Warriors is a film I’ve seen probably 30 times. But when I review films, I put them to task and I’m finding many things just don’t work here.

First and foremost, one of the things the script gets right was actually being an organic sequel to what came before it. Yeah, I’m looking at you Freddy’s Revenge. It’s no surprise seeing the return of Nancy, giving that the late Wes Craven was involved with the early stages of the script. In fact, the idea of a group of kids collectively fighting Freddy in a shared dream was Wes’ idea. As for what else was kept from the master’s original script, I’m not exactly sure.

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What I do know is that A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors ups the ante on the magical ideas and possibilities of the series concept. Why have a fantasy-driven horror franchise if you aren’t going to use all the bloody tools in the toolbox? Among the many things that work in the script, the narrative has a knack for not only establishing minor characters you actually care about, but doing so without detracting from the major players.

Also, the film uses exposition smartly by having a character unfamiliar with the establishing situations in the narrative, much like Nancy and her being unfamiliar with Westin Hills and its group starved non-sleepers, and introduce both the audience and the given characters to them. It’s an organic way to give the viewer just enough information without turning them off with inorganic storytelling.

The script also builds beautifully to its climax. Building to the third act and shepherding the climax almost to the point of narrative explosion is storytelling 101. Though harder said than done, this is paramount to any story hoping to create suspense for its audience. If your want to move your audience, in any medium, move things briskly to the third act. Dream Warriors does this well.

Now for what didn’t work in the film. Before I go on this rant, I’d like to say that the first two acts are almost too good. Also, like I said above, the film builds nicely to its third act. But, honestly, the majority of the second and third act get a lot of stuff wrong. As Freddy says in Freddy vs Jason, let’s dig a little deeper.

For starters, the film makes the egregious error of leaving the characters to develop the background of the villain. I’ll never understand why producers think it’s better to give background information on the bad guy, unintentionally but essentially making the villain far less scary, than building a strong protagonist in which the audience can latch onto.

Chuck Russell’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ – Courtesy of New Line Cinema

It’s true, Kristen Parker is a great protagonist here, but she gets swept away to make way for more Freddy exposition. It stinks like a dank boiler room, because the first act strongly belongs to her. While it’s true the iconic Freddy alias the bastard son of 100 maniacs, is first introduced here, I would happily loose that part of Elm Street lore if it meant more focus on the protagonist. No, Amanda Kruger, we don’t need you or your stupid info on how to kill Freddy.

On that note, not only is this information damaging and pointless, the crux of the climax hinges on this obscenity. I hated it, but I’ve never really put the film to task like this, and some things are unforgivable. Freddy’s mom gives a character the information, and without ruining too much of the film, it involves burying Freddy’s bones properly.

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Yeah, screenwriters, that’s it. The charred creature of our dreams is mad because his bones were mishandled and giving him respect in the form of a proper burial will make him go away. This is so idiotic. But wait, there’s more! There’s a fight with Freddy’s bones as he’s somehow able to leave the dream world and inhabit this old set of bones.

I’m not making this up people. The script is so dumb downed in the end with this nonsense that I cringed. The stuff happening simultaneously in the dream world is perfectly fine and was working extremely well, and then a fourth grader took over writing duties. What’s most upsetting is the fact that Dream Warriors is close to truly being one of the Holy Grail sequels in horror. (B)