‘The Dream Master’: Fourth ‘Elm Street’ Is Dementedly Dreamy

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Renny Harlin’s ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master – Courtesy of New Line Cinema


A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master’s script is truly an anomaly. While some moments, story points and situation are tremendously stupid, there’re also some elements hitting the screen like pistons in a finely tuned engine. The true reason the script is an anomaly is the script was half done while shooting. Not to mention attributed to three different writers, including story co-creator Brian Helgeland. The film essentially being constructed on the spot. After revisiting the film, I was blown away by this fact.

Among finer story elements, Harlin’s understanding third-act importance is crucial. A film needs to build and The Dream Master does this very well. While it could be argued the opening is a little sluggish in this sense, it’s still about Alice’s transformation from scared little book worm to courageous Freddy foe. Which brings me to my next point.

And now you’re all alone! Kristen, why don’t you – uh – call on one of your little friends? Maybe they could help.- Freddy Krueger

By far, Alice’s transformation in The Dream Master is among the best and most successful elements to the entire Nightmare franchise. Mirroring that of Walter White from the ingenious Breaking Bad, in terms of character arc; yeah I said it, Alice’s change in the film is amazing. What makes her transform is her ability to absorb the best traits of friends she’s lost to Freddy.

By the end of the film, it’s almost as if Alice is all of her group of dream warriors rolled into one badass female fighting machine. I found myself rising in excitement, as Alice finally has both the inner and outer strength to beat the burned boogeyman.

I also like Freddy killing the last of the dream warriors either with his glove or in other physically intimate ways. As if the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors made him bitter and now revenge is more personal than ever. Freddy kills others, the bonus bodies, in ways making it seem like a magically dark cat playing with helpless prey.

Then there’s the worst part of the fourth outing. With The Dream Master being the first film where Krueger resurrects, it’d be nice to have something less moronic than the secretions of a dog the reason behind Freddy’s rebirth. I mean, come on.

Although the film is able to get past this narrative indiscretion with tone, part of me feels Director Harlin resurrects ole Fred to play into the cheesier parts of the film. After all, this is the Nightmare where Freddy rocks sweet sunglasses after displaying his love of Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece Jaws by way of imitation.