In the mid-eighties, when stupid exploitative slasher flicks were a dime a dozen, Wes Craven made A Nightmare On Elm Street, which, while not perfect, introduced a level of intelligence, creativity, and actually scary psychological horror into the genre. But Hollywood was only too eager to milk the idea for more empty sensationalism. This second entry in the series, with which Craven had no involvement, shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the writers and director had no idea what they had to work with. The psychological part of the premise -- what actually made it frightening -- is gone. Gone, also, are such things as continuity.
In the first film, the heroine deals with her mounting fear by exploring an increasingly drastic sequence of possible solutions. Her terror was perfectly understandable in light of the escalating danger of her trauma, and her actions made perfect sense. In this sequel, the hero, plagued by more nightmares, doesn't do much that makes any sense. He goes to sleep, almost dies, wakes up, then blissfully goes to sleep again. And again. The few measures he does take were ideas already used from the first film. Perhaps that makes sense -- how many different ways are there to deal with the same basic premise? -- but it reveals the movie's barreness of creativity.
So instead of spending time developing a character we can relate to, the movie instead pursues a nearly unbroken sequence of supposedly eerie happenings. Freddy appears and disappears. The knife glove shows up and twitches. People faced dogs bark. Rails catch on fire for no good reason. Mostly this happens when the potential victim is asleep, but not always, which calls the rules of the game into question. The things the filmmakers choose to include are truly bizarre, too. Is it scary or funny when towels suddenly start snapping at people of their own accord? Is it scary or stupid when a pet bird explodes in a fiery mass? (Speaking of that, check out the feathers that fall after the explosion -- they're not on fire; they're not even singed.) Even the presentation of the title credit foreshadows that the movie is more suited to be snickered at than to be scared of.
This movie does exactly one thing right, then turns around and compromises that, too. It ignores the insidious ending of the original -- but itself ends in the same sort of unsatisfying way.
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