Chuck Russell’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors’ France Poster- Courtesy of New Line Cinema
The acting in Dream Warriors is a very peculiar situation. Some of the warriors do a bang up job, while others had me banging my head on the wall. Luckily, the good performances kept me from putting the old noggin through the drywall so let’s focus on the sharpest acting of the third nightmare outing.
First up, Patricia Arquette is great as damaged “Dream Warrior” leader Kristen Parker. Kristen’s a tortured soul as a result of her relationship with her domineering mother and her dream daddy, Fred — Arquette more than satisfies the role requirements. Arquette, who has worked with the great Martin Scorsese in his 1999 picture Bringing out the Dead, really shines in the slew of somewhat amateurish actors in this Nightmare tale. Not bad as Dream Warriors marked the first feature for the actress.
One solid scene involves Kristen holding a dying character in her arms and promising to dream her to a beautiful place. It’s actually some of the best acting in the entire series. It’s not surprising, giving the actress recently won an Academy Award for her work in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Simply put, she’s an amazing talent.
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Then there’s Freddy’s nemesis Nancy Thompson. Again played by series darling Heather Langenkamp, Nancy is the strength of the nighttime soldiers. She’s the only one who believes the kids of Westin Hills and will stop at nothing to protect her like-minded friends. It’s awesome to see Nancy back in the fold, giving her absence in the dismal Freddy’s Revenge. The tables have turned, and now the student must become the teacher.
As for her actual performance, it was an improvement overall from her acting in the original classic, but not up to the heights she achieved in Craven’s 1993 masterpiece A New Nightmare. I’m not saying she’s a bad actress, quite the opposite, but she’s no Jamie Lee Curtis.
Rounding out the group is actor Craig Wilson. Playing residential psychologist, Neil Gordon, the actor is one of the strongest performers in the film. The role requires him to be simultaneously understanding and skeptical. Held within the confines of the script’s good doctor/ bad doctor routine, the actor does a great job making us believe that he not only cares, but is of sound mind as well. It takes a lot of convincing to get him to become an honorary member of the dream warriors, but when he does, it’s wholly satisfying. (B+)
Chuck Russell‘s Dream Warriors is one of the best horror sequels ever made, until the third act rolls around and destroys almost everything great that came before. While it’s still an extremely solid entry in the series, and a vast improvement over Freddy’s Revenge, there are awkward and rather silly moments toward the end that keep it from being truly great. I recommend the film to any horror fan who says that sequels are never good and to anyone still sleeping with that nightlight by their bedside. Because we’re all the “Dream Warriors”, and maybe tonight, we’ll be gone.
THE GRADE: B-
Join us next week for another edition of “Franchise Friday” when we take a look at the fourth film in the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ series, Renny Harlin‘s ‘The Dream Master’.