It is universally recognised that sequels often don’t live up to the success of the original. Second instalments are difficult to get right, be it the sophomore year; the difficult second album or a relationship with an ex-girlfriend. However, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge’ may be an exception to the rule. Krueger’s first outing is a classic but as a movie, the second movie may be superior.
Freddy’s Revenge is more solid as a film. The storytelling is much tighter with a more cohesive structure. Foreshadowing is utilised well and every major story beat is set up early, with a payoff later in the story. This gives a feeling of things coming full circle. Which is important because the vicious cycle is a strong theme in The Nightmare On Elm Street series.
The psychology of the characters is really well written. The introduction, is the protagonists nightmare premonition in which Freddy invades his mind for the first time. In the dream, he is a social outcast with bad fashion sense who is laughed at by the popular kids. Jesse is not like that in real life. He does have embarrassing moments in his school life though. The person he saw himself as in the dream is a result of his insecurities.
The writing of the central romance in this instalment was far stronger. You could relate to the key characters a lot more. This makes all the difference when it comes to investing emotionally.
They even riff on the corny nature of the previous film’s protagonist. The sequel was a more mature version of the story. However, it retains that cosy eighties retro vibe. Part of the reason these movies are so enjoyable is because you get the John Hughes style characters and locations crossed with great horror and menace.
Jack Sholder did a great job of showing not telling when it came to the garden party. There were some superb shots in that sequence which made Freddy look really formidable.
When Lisa stopped her father from shooting Freddy, a moment passed between them. This was really interesting; Lisa loves Jesse who was being possessed by Krueger. Not only that, she has spent time learning about Freddy. It is almost as if her relationship with Jesse is crossing over with Freddy. He has fully inhabited Jesse’s life.
The practical effects were great in the first film but they advanced for the sequel. The moment Jesse transformed into Freddy was a particularly effective use of SFX. This sequel did a great job of covering new ground. It built upon the events of the first film but explored new ideas.