While Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is one of the worst sequels in the series, the slasher ironically features the scariest iteration of the infamous nursery rhyme heard throughout the franchise. Director Wes Craven’s original Nightmare On Elm Street featured a twist ending that some viewers found laughable, but the teen slasher movie was still well-received upon release. The next year’s sequel Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge, however, was a different story.
Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge was made without Craven’s approval or involvement, and many fans felt that this fact was hard to hide. Critically derided upon release, the slasher sequel was a mess in terms of plot and was a tonal disaster. Often unintentionally hilarious, Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge ignored Freddy’s ability to invade dreams (his scariest quality) in favor of a drab possession plotline.
However, there were still some inspired moments in the weak sequel. Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge’s opening scene, for example, was a cartoony delight that nailed the franchise’s ideal balance between spooky and silly. Meanwhile, the sequence where the protagonist Jesse dreams of his sister skipping rope and reciting Freddy Krueger’s trademark nursery rhyme is genuinely creepy and one of the only times that the franchise pairs this unsettling recurring image (of a little girl skipping rope and reciting the rhyme) with a pre-established in-movie character. It’s unusually effective (especially in such an otherwise silly movie) because it’s not just some random child, but a character who Jesse or Freddy could conceivably kill, making both the kid and the person watching them deeply creepy.
Usually, the only times that the nursery rhyme is heard, it’s recited by serene children who viewers can assume are some of Freddy’s earlier victims. However, this slasher sequel improves on that setup by having Jesse’s younger sister (who is a standard comic relief sibling throughout the rest of the movie) sing the haunting rhyme. It is an undeniably effective moment because the image of Jesse’s little sister singing Freddy’s rhyme works on two levels. For one thing, the sight of the emotionless child’s chanting is, in itself, undeniably creepy. For another, the scene makes it look like Jesse (or Freddy via Jesse) is preparing to kill his sister. Thus, the viewer is both creeped out by the child and worried for her, making the moment more discomfiting than many of the sequel’s scenes manage to be.
None of the competing franchise Friday the 13th‘s sequels dared to kill off child characters, but Freddy’s status as a remorseless child killer makes the option seem distinctly plausible, making the sequence all the more discomfiting. While the movie doesn’t kill off Jesse’s sister (and has a notably low body count despite being a slasher sequel), the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise outing still makes this standalone scene work as a deeply creepy moment. That said, Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge remains one of the low points of the slasher series, even though its nursery rhyme scene can’t be faulted for its unexpected effectiveness.