Director Jack Sholder and screenwriter David Shaskin avoid rehashing A Nightmare on Elm Street element by element, but their sequel to the Wes Craven horror hit doesn't necessarily find a compelling voice of its own. The plot puts an interesting spin on the first film's ideas, grafting elements of The Exorcist and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde onto the central premise. Yet the attempts at suburban satire in the scenes involving Jesse's family seem trite and uninspired, distracting from the plot rather than providing real irony or insight. The gay subtext is pervasive, from the S&M references, to Jesse's performance anxiety, to the secrets lurking in his closet, to the high-energy dance tunes; yet it's muddled, settling for scattered homosexual signifiers rather than a coherent take on the alienation of gay adolescence. The very presence of so many ideas signals an intelligence often lacking in '80s horror sequels, but their uneven execution leaves a film more curious than terrifying. Without a solid component of psychological suspense to back them up, Kevin Yagher's inventive effects and Robert Englund's witty grotesquerie merely amuse.