After an extended sequel session some months ago I planned the Nightmare series as a kind of side feature for the end of October, having never really looked into it outside some vague memories of the first movie. They were memories of weird and gruesome things of course, so it seemed like a good idea. There are a lot of fans that exist who cite the third and seventh instalments as where the peaks in quality lie, so it was time to put that to the test and also to see why those entries which came in between are remembered less fondly.
Like so many of its contemporaries, Wes Craven's original fantasy
slasher film has way too many sequels, and I would soon discover they churned them out without enough creativity or
imagination behind them considering the premise. It's a series set in a world where anything you can dream up is possible but rehashes itself way too
often, often looking to capitalize on the popularity of certain ideas without sticking to what has been previously established in terms of rules and lore. It relies on familiar elements rather than actually executing them in an effective
way or writing them properly. But let's go deeper, and see what exactly the issues are here and how all of this holds up as a franchise. The man of your dreams is waiting...
There's a lot to be said for the art of building suspense. After all, the original Jurassic Park was for the most part an exercise in tension building so that the science gone wild elements that Michael Crichton was such a big fan of had time to slowly spiral out of control. On top of this the creatures had to be disguised or hidden behind rain forest foliage or perimeter fences, ground breaking effects are tough. The focus was instead on the human element, and this is arguably the real meat of the story - people interacting. Everyone knows the mixture of CGI and puppetry brought dinosaurs to life in new ways, but like Jaws the character development is what matters. All the arguing, the banter and the quirky sound bites are just as memorable as the horror they come across later. The thing people generally talk about when discussing The Lost World besides the San Diego rampage is the literal cliffhanger moment with all the rain, snapping cables and breaking glass. Suspense matters. The sequels are far from successful, so has anyone remembered this and written a worthwhile 'forth in the trilogy' release, or 14 years after our last trip to InGen is this another unnecessary instalment, too little too late?
Film storylines taking ideas from Disney theme park rides have not been a novelty for some time, though in the wake of the Pirates of the Caribbean juggernaut this hasn't been as prolific an idea as you might have expected... presumably because other efforts in this vein weren't well received. So this time around they have opted to take ideas from the park itself along with a few of Walt Disney's own futurism beliefs. Getting Brad Bird to direct another life action feature after the forth instalment in the Mission: Impossible series was certainly a good idea, though having Damon Lindelof on board after Star Trek Into Darkness seems rather questionable to say the least. But sources of inspiration aside it was refreshing to see what seems to be for the most part to be an original project, one that captures a sense of adventure far better than 80s throwbacks like Super 8 and Earth to Echo. A new world awaits us, the world of the future... they've saved a seat on the rocket ship just for us. But how much of that is mired in heaving handed themes and clunky storytelling devices?
Modern horror a lot of times these days falls into the bland category, with the likes of Insidious and Sinister blurring the line not only in terms of their homogeneous titles but the generic supernatural plot elements and the forgettable cast of family units taking up the screen; a big overall lack of charisma. It seems that when the lingering smell of the Blair Witch Project and its ilk are not involved, found footage tropes and all; the type of haunted house jump scares these projects are littered with is the only other go-to source of inspiration a lot of the time. When remakes are not being done of course. Which is weird considering the plethora of interesting ghost stories and chillers out there. It's understandable that the oldschool slasher movie won't get as many theatre seats filled with an adult rating these days, but still this is a disappointing state of affairs. Luckily there are those who try something new, which is to say they take from their own sources. Much like The Guest the 80s style of John Carpenter makes a comeback with It Follows, with a hint of Wes Craven thrown in there and a few nods to Hideo Nakata's Ring. Which is hardly original but at least they might manage go create something with a personality.