A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master is by far the best of the series, a superior horror picture that balances wit and gore with imagination and intelligence. It very effectively mirrors the anxieties of the teen-age audience for which it is primarily intended. [19 Aug 1988, p.17]
Directed by the Finnish-born Renny Harlin, it's a deft, fluid piece that rushes from one surrealist epiphany to the next, and along the way displays a craft and imagination far above the norms for the genre.
Elm Street 4' does have an endless onslaught of astonishing, often grotesque special effects .Mr. Harlin only has to keep things moving, which he does with restless camera work, swirling high above Freddy and his victims. Freddy, who says I am eternal, seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, immune to directors and scripts.
It seems that with Part 4, Freddy Krueger has just about run out of gas. Getting further and further away from creator Wes Craven's original concept, the series has declined into a plotless series of special-effects set pieces featuring Freddy slicing and dicing a variety of teenagers in their dreams. What the films lack in narrative, however, they make up for with pure cinematic panache, and the latest installment is no exception.
As always, the teen actors are disposable, and even Robert Englund seems to be sleepwalking through Freddy. In the best Nightmares, Parts 1 and 3, the bad dreams not only made sense, but reinforced the idea of pattern psychosis and brought viewers into the dreamscapes. In 4 they're just cold splashes in the face.
The movie is heavy on shock and gimmickry, thanks to Renny Harlin's frenetic and flamboyant direction. The wafer-thin plot is little more than an excuse to showcase the astonishing achievements of special-effects makeup artists. [19 Aug 1988, p.D9]
A good sequel.
The fourth film in the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise is a direct continuation of the previous one, and begins with Freddy Krueger's revenge on the group of teenagers who defeated him before. However, things do not end there, and the film presents a very well elaborated script, in which the villain has many opportunities to scare us, although the credibility of what is told can sometimes be too imaginative.
The cast does its job satisfactorily. Robert Englund remains impeccable in the role of Krueger, who immortalized with his way of acting and his surrender. Lisa Wilcox is a good protagonist, Rodney Eastman does a positive job and stands out from the crowd and Tuesday Knight seemed satisfactory, but not particularly notable. Even so, I don't think the cast's work was happier than in the previous film.
Technically, it is a very well made film and appears to have a lot of money invested. The CGI and the special effects are quite good and worked well and there are several deaths and strong scenes with great visual impact. Englund's make-up also looks realistic and detailed, and that makes it disturbing and impactful. There is room for humor, but the film is genuinely tense and the suspense was built in a coherent and skillful way. Dark cinematography with strong colors helps to accentuate this tension and the soundtrack also plays an honorable role, although sometimes it does not seem to sound very good.