Kristen Parker, one of the three remaining Dream Warriors, has a dream about a certain, abandoned house on Elm Street and, when she ends up in a boiler room, she panics and drags her friends Joey and Kincaid into the dream, much to their annoyance. The next day at school, after meeting up with her boyfriend Rick and his sister Alice, as well as their other friends Debbie and Sheila, Kristen is confronted Joey and Kincaid, who tell her that they want to live a normal life, that they're tired of her dragging them into her dreams, and that going into the dream the way she does might bring Freddy Krueger back to life. That night, Kincaid falls asleep and finds himself in a junkyard, mirroring the place where Freddy's remains are buried, and watches as his dog Jason plays a part in bringing Freddy back to life. He tries to fight him but Freddy manages to kill Kincaid and, later that night, takes care of Joey as well. The following day, Kristen learns of their deaths and has a brief nightmare after knocking herself out which reveals to her that Freddy has returned. Her friends, even though they don't quite believe what she tells them, try to help her but Kristen's mother, who's noticed that she's again trying not to sleep, puts sleeping pills in her drink at dinner that night and, despite her best effort to dream of someplace fun, which Alice advised her about earlier, Freddy is able to invade her dream. Freddy then forces Kristen to pull someone else into the dream, namely Alice, and ultimately kills Kristen but not before she gives Alice her dream power. Alice, realizing something terrible is happening, heads with Rick over to Kristen's house but they arrive too late, finding her body engulfed in flames in her bedroom. Alice, who has been feeling different ever since she saw Kristen die in her dream, falls asleep in class the next day and inadvertently pulls Sheila into her dream, allowing Freddy to kill her. Realizing that Freddy is now using her as a means to claim new victims since Kristen was the last child of the parents who burned him alive, Alice tries to stay awake as long as possible but is unable to keep Freddy from killing Rick as well. With each death, Alice gains a piece of the victim's personality and their special ability, and soon realizes that she must face Freddy and use these newly gained abilities to defeat him and release her friends' souls.
It's best not to overthink things in this particular franchise since anything can happen in a dream, including Freddy being resurrected when a dog randomly shoots fire out of its penis onto the spot where his remains are buried. I still don't understand how that came about, and I'm also not entirely sure how Alice is able to defeat him by making him see his reflection. Is that supposed to mean that Freddy's never seen his reflection and realized how hideous he is? It's obviously very metaphorical and I don't understand it as a result but I can let it and a lot of things go and enjoy the film. One part, however, that has always really confused me is near the end of the film when Alice and Dan are rushing to try to save Debbie but Freddy has them going in circles and repeating the same action again and again. This is where it becomes difficult to discern where reality ends and the dreams begin. Before I could always work out that somewhere along the line, Alice fell asleep and unwittingly dragged someone into the dream with her but here, things really get confusing. Alice appears to awaken from her dream about being sucked into the movie screen in the theater and ending up at the diner she works at and rushes to meet up with Dan, knowing that Freddy is going after Debbie next. That's when they start going in circles and Alice realizes that they're both in the dream, meaning that what we saw before was a dream within a dream and that she's pulled Dan into it too. Complex and it took me a while to get it, but I can wrap my head around it now. Before, I was also confused as to how Freddy is able to appear before Debbie and what he does to her but I guess Alice unwittingly pulled her in when Freddy told her to bring him more victims, meaning she's actually now asleep in the room where she was working out before. But, where my brain begins to sizzle is when, after Freddy kills Debbie and Alice senses this, she thinks she sees him on the road ahead of her and tries to run him down with the truck she and Dan are driving but she appears to slam right into nothing. We finally get back to reality and it's revealed that Alice slammed into a tree and jostled her and Dan awake. Ordinarily, the two of them would wake up back where they fell asleep but does this mean they were sleepwalking and driving in this case? I guess so, since something similar happens to Dan in the next film, but this is where it becomes very hard to figure out when exactly someone fell asleep as well as when we're in the dream and when we're not, a notion that would only become more complex in the following movies.
Dan is severely injured in the crash and Alice rides with him in the ambulance to the hospital. When he's taken into surgery, Alice tries to go in with him to make sure they don't put him to sleep but when her father stops her, she takes matters into her own hands and drives back to her house. She arrives back at her house as Dan is put to sleep for his surgery, despite trying to keep them from putting the mask on him, and prepares herself for the battle ahead in an epic montage where she takes some sleeping pills, straps on all the items belonging to her friends along with some tougher clothes, and takes all the pictures off her mirror (the latter two could have possibly happened after she fell asleep). It ends with her sliding everything off of her nightstand and looking at herself in the mirror, ready to take Freddy on. Dan, meanwhile, awakens in surgery and sees Freddy standing over him, dressed as a doctor. He rips the gas mask off and yells, "Krueger!", to which Freddy says, "Well, it ain't Dr. Seuss." Dan yells for Alice as Freddy laughs and Alice, seeing this through her mirror, smashes through it feet first and lands in the operating room. She finds that Freddy has disappeared and helps Dan off the table, telling him that they need to get out. The two of them run into the outside hall and when it brightens up, they see that they're in a rotating tunnel like in a funhouse (doesn't the lighting of this place make it look like something out of one of Joel Schumacher's Batman movies?) They run down it but come across Freddy, who spins the tunnel, quipping, "Out for a spin, lovebirds?" Alice and Dan run the other way, stumbling over themselves before crashing through a painted glass window on the other end, landing inside a large, Gothic church. When they try to get up, Dan tells Alice that it's too late and she sees that blood's pooling beneath his shirt. In reality, the doctors see that he's hemorrhaging and decide to wake him up. In the dream, Dan slowly disappears into nothingness, leaving Alice alone. When he wakes up, Dan tells the doctors to put him back under but they simply reassure him that he's going to be fine.
The film ends on a question mark like the previous film, with a flash-forward to some time later where Alice and Dan are now dating and they stop by a fountain, with Dan telling Alice to make a wish. He tosses a coin into the water and Alice sees Freddy's reflection in it for a brief moment, it disappearing with the ripples. When Dan asks her what she wished for, she simply answers, "If I tell you, it won't come true," and the two of them walk off.
In my review of Dream Warriors, I said that the music score was fairly good but the songs on the soundtrack were much more memorable; when it comes to The Dream Master, however, both are truly excellent. I love Craig Safan's score for this film. It has a texture and sound to it that I really like, a purely electronic score that has hints of Asian-style music, which makes sense given that it's been said their style of filmmaking had an influence on the film, particularly the movie A Chinese Ghost Story. I especially like the menacing, rolling piece that you often hear whenever Freddy's nearby or something bad has happened, often accompanied by some electronic pinging sounds that I also enjoy. There are some other electronic pieces accompanied by what sounds like vocalizing voices that are really eerie when heard by themselves. Freddy's resurrection scene has a nice beat to it with a sound behind it that builds and builds in pitch as he comes back to life and the same goes for when he stalks Kincaid through the junkyard. The part of the score where they go purely Asian is the scene with Rick in the dreamy dojo and while it is a bit on the nose considering the nature of the scene, I don't mind it since I like Asian music. One of my favorite themes is what you hear when Alice and Dan are going in circles, a theme that has an innocent-enough, high-pitched beat to it but is rather eerie when heard out of context (it was put to good use on a special feature about dreams on the Infinifilm edition of the original Nightmare on Elm Street). The sequence that accompanies that part, with Debbie becoming a cockroach, has a really freakish sound to it, with screeching sounds and a constant, low "durn" sound, with an occasional, electronic pinging bit to mix it up. Alice getting ready for the final battle has an awesome theme, with an electronic beat accompanied by an electric guitar that really starts to jam near the end (if you want to hear it outside of the movie, go to Ramboraph4life's YouTube page and watch the introductory video). And the final battle between Alice and Freddy has an interesting, fun sound to it, again sounding a little bit Asian in its texture. There are uses of some of Charles Bernstein's music again, with Safan notably adding some extra notes to the main theme.