It’s almost always pointless to have a horror sequel if you’re not going to either expand upon the world or continue the story where it left off. Usually, these can only survive if they go the camp, self-referential route. The sequel to Wes Craven’s 1984 groundbreaking movie A Nightmare on Elm Street released the next year, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, now directed by Jack Sholder, connects to the original in some ways, but not in the actual foundation of the premise.

Five years after the events from the first film, our new protagonist, Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) moves into the former house of Nancy Thompson, our protagonist last time. He now lives in her old room and starts having nightmares about the clawed killer, Freddy Krueger. He starts developing a relationship with Lisa (Kim Myers) and one day, they find Nancy’s old diary “hidden” inside his room. Upon reading it, they discover the source of Jesse’s nightmares.

Unlike last time, Jesse is the only one experiencing any sort of dreams about Freddy. This time, instead of trying to kill our protagonist, Freddy recruits him to do his bidding in the real world. He uses Jesse to start murdering random people for no real rhyme or reason—unlike the very sound motive from the first movie.

The second act is catalyzed by a seemingly random bar scene and somebody gets murdered by “Freddy” as Jesse. However, the police never get involved and the natural repercussions of an admittedly interesting, albeit unjustified, concept like this never seem to come to light.

Five years after the events from the first film, our new protagonist, Jesse Walsh (Mark Patton) moves into the former house of Nancy Thompson, our protagonist last time. He now lives in her old room and starts having nightmares about the clawed killer, Freddy Krueger. He starts developing a relationship with Lisa (Kim Myers) and one day, they find Nancy’s old diary “hidden” inside his room. Upon reading it, they discover the source of Jesse’s nightmares.

Unlike last time, Jesse is the only one experiencing any sort of dreams about Freddy. This time, instead of trying to kill our protagonist, Freddy recruits him to do his bidding in the real world. He uses Jesse to start murdering random people for no real rhyme or reason—unlike the very sound motive from the first movie.

The second act is catalyzed by a seemingly random bar scene and somebody gets murdered by “Freddy” as Jesse. However, the police never get involved and the natural repercussions of an admittedly interesting, albeit unjustified, concept like this never seem to come to light.

Freddy’s Revenge has a great setup within the first 30 minutes, but quickly falls apart, not knowing what to do with its story. The convoluted premise banks on its incoherence to move along its plot and stumble to the finish. We’re constantly playing catchup with the story and figuring out what exactly is going on. Fortunately, the movie benefits from some fun scenes and, at times, being so bad that it’s good. Sholder very obviously lacks Craven’s sensibilities, and also his clarity and focus. Oftentimes Freddy’s Revenge isn’t sure where it’s going.

The sequel interestingly goes against slasher norms and makes its lead character a male instead of a female. Although, this premise heavily leans on Lisa to ground it—which it should. Patton as the lead is often annoyingly bad, and we look to the much more competent Myers as our own vessel into the story, even though he’s the villain. Jesse is constantly hounded by his father, his gym coach, and sometimes kids at school, which causes him to be constantly on edge even when Freddy isn’t involved. And Patton often acts in a way that distances us from his character.

While this movie does attempt to relate itself to the first Nightmare via Nancy’s diary and house—a clever device—the events and lore don’t seem to exist within the same world as the last. Freddy, who was previously only a threat within dreams, can now enter the real world? There’s no real explanation for this, and we feel like it actually undermines the creative integrity from the predecessor. Also, the first film ends with a cliffhanger, and we don’t find out what happens, other than a slight mention of Nancy’s mother.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is more of a psychological horror than its successful predecessor, but that also means it’s less of an actual horror film. Freddy Krueger isn’t the main source of anxiety, more than the idea that Jesse is slowly losing control of his lucidity. You feel the suspense build up within pockets of the film, but this one loses the sleep element, which makes Freddy so unique and, more importantly, justifies his existence. And with that absence, the film, while entertaining as a whole, just isn’t as effective.

About the Author: Petunio Johnners

Petunio Johnners

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