The positive reviews received by the Child’s Play television spinoff Chucky have left a lot of slasher fans thinking that the Nightmare On Elm Street series could benefit from a similar small-screen reimagining, but this could be a major mistake for the franchise. The Nightmare On Elm Street franchise began life with the original supernatural slasher of the same name in 1984 and has gone through many iterations in the decades since. There has been a slew of sequels, a soft reboot in 1994’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and even a short-lived and largely forgotten TV anthology show.
Although the late series creator Wes Craven’s other famous property, the Scream franchise, is receiving a reboot in 2022, there hasn’t been much in the way of news regarding a new Nightmare On Elm Street property for quite a few years. The critical failure of director Samuel Bayer’s 2010 remake, alongside Craven’s death in 2015, has left the Nightmare On Elm Street series without a clear future and no apparent plan to reinvigorate the dormant franchise. However, the recent success of SyFy’s critically-acclaimed Child’s Play spinoff Chucky has led some fans to hope that Freddy might make a small-screen return in the near future.
Although the critical success of Chucky’s TV debut makes a Nightmare On Elm Street TV spin-off seem appealing, it is not as simple as that. The lighter, more playful tone of the killer doll series was always going to gel better with the lower budget of television horror, while Craven’s ambitious vision for the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise was less-suited to the more modest medium. Not only that but Freddy’s increasingly comedic presentation in later Nightmare On Elm Street sequels is often cited as the beginning of the end for the franchise and one of the biggest mistakes that the series made according to fans and critics alike. In contrast, the Child’s Play movies are broadly agreed to have improved with the addition of tongue-in-cheek humor from 1998’s Bride of Chucky onwards, meaning that their goofier tone is more suited to a TV spinoff than the gloomier, more self-serious, and dramatic antics of Freddy Krueger at his most disturbing and effective.
Even in its earliest, most self-serious iterations, Child’s Play was a franchise about a killer doll rather than a child murderer. Freddy Krueger’s awkward Goldbergs cameo alone proved that the character does not gel well with a TV comedy aesthetic, whereas Chucky was a wisecracking, self-aware villain even in the earliest, darkest Child’s Play movies. Once Bride of Chucky added in broader, self-aware humor, the tone of the Child’s Play series went from being more arch than disturbing to being outright comedic—which was the exact opposite of Freddy Krueger’s screen journey. Craven’s original movie depicted Freddy as an unironic and terrifying threat, and it was only later sequels that turned the villain into a one-liner spouting anti-villain. Although this element was something that many Nightmare On Elm Street ripoffs failed to understand, Freddy being a serious, scary presence was central to the appeal of the better-reviewed movies in the series. In contrast, the Chucky TV show had the freedom to make its central character a sillier, more self-deprecating breed of villain.
Adding in broad comedy from Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master onward was seen by many critics as the biggest mistake that the franchise made since, unlike Friday the 13th (which also added broad comedic elements in its later sequels), the fantasy elements of Craven’s franchise meant that Freddy was never easy to take seriously in the first place. In contrast, turning the Child’s Play series into self-aware comedy was what revived public interest in Chucky circa Bride of Chucky, as the series leaned into the comic potential of a killer doll. Where Nightmare on Elm Street ruined slasher movies (temporarily) by leading competitors to focus on more inventive, goofy villains and less on scares, Child’s Play was a rare case of a horror franchise gaining more critical acclaim when the creators took things in a lighter direction. Chucky’s decision to play up its comic elements paid off, whereas Freddy’s attempt to do the same was (arguably correctly) seen as a desperate attempt to win back a waning audience.
The choice to hand Bride of Chucky director Ronny Yu the reins of the franchise in 2003’s Freddy Vs Jason was an attempt to replicate the Child’s Play sequel’s tongue-in-cheek tone and, while the move resulted in impressive box office returns, it was one of Freddy’s least scary outings. Despite Freddy Vs Jason‘s financial success, few fans would call the outing the best movie of either franchise, and its agreeably goofy tone was hampered by the fact that both villains seemed to be drafted in from more self-serious movies. Neither the sadistic Freddy nor the wordless Jason seemed suited to the karate-chopping, cartoony antics of Freddy Vs Jason, whereas both Chucky’s later movies and the character’s TV spinoff proved the killer doll was better suited for a less serious brand of horror.
Whether their reception has been good, bad, or indifferent, every Child’s Play project—other than the largely forgotten, unrelated 2019 remake—has been the brainchild of Don Mancini. In contrast, Freddy is the creation of Wes Craven but has been altered, added to, and otherwise rewritten by Rachel Talalay, Renny Harlin, Stephen Hopkins, Frank Darabont, and many more writers and directors over the decades. Craven even hated one of the best Nightmare On Elm Street sequels because the screenwriters diverged from his original story so much, and later screenwriters for the series complained about having everything from ingenious death sequences to Freddy’s entire backstory excised by meddling producers. As a result, Freddy has no consistent character arc (even ignoring the remake’s retcons) and therefore wouldn’t benefit from a TV spinoff as lore-heavy as Chucky, which was able to build off the established, consistent canon of the Child’s Play series since the original movies were already a cohesive whole. As a result, the combination of having too many creators involved, needing a far darker tone, and not reacting well to comic relief means that, unlike Child’s Play, the Nightmare On Elm Street series would not benefit from a Chucky-style TV reboot.
Even if A Nightmare On Elm Street receives a reboot, the series can’t copy Chucky’s Syfy TV show despite the Child’s Play spinoff’s success.Read MoreScreenRant – Feed