Good versus evil. It is a theme that has been with us since perhaps the dawn of man. The belief that there are darker forces that are always working against the just and righteous of the world not only fuels many of our morals and societal constructs but it is often found in our finest stories as well.
Those stories inspire us since they remind us to push forward and let nothing stop us in life, and they permeate all genres of storyteling...including horror. Though from my personal experiences the common thread for horror films is the biblical sense of good versus evil since it's easier to square off against agents of hell. But there was one horror film where good versus evil was handled in subtle fashion, the biggest film in the Elm Street franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
There is peace in Springwood once again. Freddy Krueger has at last been defeated and life has returned to normal. Except for Kristen Parker. Still haunted by the events at Westin Hills she keeps returning to Freddy's old haunts in her dreams, despite the fact he is never there. But the thoughts of Krueger and the fear that he may return fuel Freddy's resurrection, and it will be up to one of Kristen's friends, Alice to face off against the monster once again, and this time around, Freddy may have met his match at last.
So how exactly does the good versus evil theme relate to a film about a former child murdered that haunts dreams? Because of the fact that Freddy never quite seems to die in these motion pictures. No matter how often they kill him, come after him, the fear of Krueger, the threat of what he is and what he does is what keeps him alive. It makes him an evil immovable force that is always hiding and lurking and for this film, Alice represents the eternal good and innocence of the world that will have to face off against the darkness. It's a surprisingly cerebral theme to a film that seems so simple.
I say that, simply because this was the biggest Freddy film of them all. Renny Harlin who would go on to direct Die Hard 2 was the man behind the camera and it gave this motion picture a big budget look and feel that the franchise never replicated. It also meant top notch special effects that remain incredible to this day but it also meant that in exchange for its slick look and effects, something had to go and that sadly...was the scares. Yes, The Dream Master is one of the few Elm Street motion pictures that really isn't terrifying at all.
But, it's still an awesome ride. Freddy is as cool as ever and the movie is an absolute blast. Despite the lack of scares I do give the filmmakers credit for doing something that is super hard to do when it comes to horror and a franchise like this, they made Freddy accessible and while this film was full of enjoyment, the franchise would face darker days after this one.