In 1989, 'The Dream Child' was released to the weakest box office numbers the Freddy franchise has really seen yet. While it still did okay, it wasn't exactly a "number one" like its two predecessors. It seemed abundantly clear that Freddy was a fast-burn character for the time. While Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers have legacies dating back several years prior to '89, this was just five years for Freddy. However, I daresay the film may have done better if it didn't tackle the subject matter it did.
In reality, the teen girls who were following along with this series were a little older now, and some very real things were coming into play like pregnancy and all that surrounds it. Writer Leslie Bohem wanted to do something scary that was a little more aimed towards women, and thus the idea of the Dream Child was born. As though the idea behind accidental pregnancy wasn't scary enough, she mixed in the concept of a strange man trying to take a child away from his mother. These themes brought a whole new level of darkness to the series that was, quite frankly, just too serious. I think the idea is intriguing enough, but perhaps the execution was a bit much for some.
One must bear in mind that the past two 'Elm Street' movies were scary, but fun. They were thrill rides with cool effects and memorable characters with Freddy really coming into his own as the James Bond of slasher horror. When it came to 'Elm Street 5' though, there always seemed to be a little something missing, but I could never quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it was too lacking in Freddy one-liners, perhaps it was the discomfort of the subject matter, perhaps it was just that it was just far darker than the previous two films. This time around though, I think I figured it out, and the subject matter really does have a lot to do with it.
See, what makes 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movies so intriguing is the idea that everyone dreams and therefore everyone's in danger. You're simply not safe because at some point, you will sleep, you will dream, and you'll find yourself in Freddy's playground. I've always liked the idea in horror that if no one is safe, the intensity is cranked up a little. While that does all still ring true in this, the initial threat is aimed at a pregnant woman and her unborn son. Therefore, speaking as a single man, the threat of Freddy feels much weaker here than it has in the past simply due to the fact I can't get pregnant, and therefore the whole scare factor of the film doesn't apply to me.
Taking place a year after the events of 'The Dream Master', Alice (Lisa Wilcox) and Dan (Danny Hassel) are now a couple. Alice starts getting subtle hints that something is amiss in her dreams, and before long she finds herself face-to-face with Freddy once again. As Freddy's return has Alice genuinely confused, she soon discovers that the window for his return is through her new, unborn baby. Furthering the lore a little bit, it turns out Freddy can also manipulate reality around our new set of heroes through the dreams of the ever-sleeping unborn. Once again, I always thought the idea of this was altogether intriguing, but once again, the execution wasn't quite on the fun level that it was previously.
As I mentioned in my previous reviews, all of these titles have a specific identifier to me, and this would be "the controversial one". This and 'Freddy's Revenge' are almost interchangeable with their respective identifiers, but that's a whole other subject. Of course the controversy has a lot to do with pregnancy and even subject matter like abortion. Even with Freddy trying to transform her child into a thing of evil, Alice is determined to keep her baby, which I see as a reference to a mother's constant attempt to steer her child in the right direction as opposed to letting the evils of society take his mind over. So much of this is exactly that - Freddy trying to pretty well possess this boy.
With that comes into play the whole possession concept as well, and that has always been something I'd rather steer away from with this franchise. I never thought Freddy needed to come to the real world, and never got why he would ever want to. He has the power to invade dreams and kill his victims from the inside out so to speak, so why risk getting hunted down and killed by an angry mob... again? Some of the nightmare sequences here are decent enough, but nothing particularly stands out either. I dig a lot of the subtext for what it is, but again, I'm not the film's target audience either. I enjoy it more than 'Freddy's Revenge', and the concept is cool, but I've always seen it as fairly forgettable for an 'Elm Street' flick, and would much sooner put on any of its predecessors (except of course 'Freddy's Revenge), or anything else that follows.
Body Count: 3