Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

With the Springwood authorities quarantining every child that might have ever come into contact with Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), the bastard son of a hundred maniacs has been resigned to Hell, forgotten, and is therefore unable to take his revenge on the children of Elm Street. Using the last of his powers to resurrect Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) in the hope that he might once again instil fear in Springwood’s citizens and return Krueger to their nightmares once more, Freddy takes a back seat while his abilities return. When Voorhees shows no sign of relenting, however, Freddy finds himself playing second-fiddle to the unstoppable man from Crystal Lake. With the two monsters distracted, Lori Campbell (Monica Keener) concocts a plan with best friend Kia Waterson (Kelly Rowland) and Westin Hills Asylum escapee Will Rollins (Jason Ritter) that could end their combined rein of terror forever.

Back in the days before Platinum Dunes was a headache-inducing flogger of dead horses – if we’re being completely honest, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake of the same year was actually quite watchable – horror movies were still allowed to entertain, wearing their 18 certificates with pride. Freddy vs. Jason unites two of the genre’s most iconic figureheads, attempting to do justice to both franchises while simultaiously using the opportunity to establish a new mythology which – at the time – was touted to continue with a sequel of its own. As what would ultimately stand as an epitaph for each character, at least in their original incarnations, the film is everything that the grittier reboots weren’t: fun.

Taking place before Krueger was deconstructed by Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Voorhees was shot into space for Jason X, Freddy vs. Jason finds the characters at their most iconic. Having at that point amassed 17 instalments between them, the franchises had long since staled and made a quiet home for themselves in VHS bargain basements everywhere. As such, this is easily the biggest budget either have seen in decades, the film benefiting from a cast of capable if uninspiring actors and a director who is looking for more than just an easy meal ticket. The bottom line being that this is the best that either series has looked in a long time, the set-up also accommodating at least a slight deviation from the norm, lending the film a novelty neither villain would have had in another solo instalment.

Even with New Line’s apparent interest in rejuvenating their flagging franchises, however, the film is still a catalogue of complaints. The writing is uniformly atrocious, with Freddy’s recycled quips having dulled considerably faster than his trademark knives and the teen-talk littering Springwood dating the movie to about three years prior to its actual release. Worse than laughable are the attempts at exposition, which are simply inserted wholesale into the screenplay at various intervals, requiring characters to explain the plot whether they are privy to the information or not. Leaps of logic abound, leading one helpful police officer to a character’s den the moment he is required by the story and the teenagers to divine Freddy’s plan despite only having learnt of his existence in the previous scene. If it weren’t for the sight of Kelly Rowland performing mouth-to-mouth on an unconscious Voorhees, I doubt I would have smirked on cue once.

But nobody is going to see a film called Freddy vs. Jason in search of naturalistic dialogue or award-winning performances; they are there for the smack-down implied by the title alone. The plot, while heavily contrived, unites the two franchises in a way which almost makes sense, drawing on long-forgotten elements of the previous movies such as Jason’s childhood, his psychopathic mother and the dream-inhibiting drug Hypnocil to oil the film’s mechanics. In returning to landmarks including Nancy Thompson’s house on Elm Street, Westin Hills Mental Institution and – in the film’s final act – Camp Crystal Lake, director Ronny Yu evidences his own inherent love for both series’, the tone far more respectful than Paul W. S. Anderson’s comparatively soulless Aliens vs. Predator.

Freddy vs. Jason‘s biggest strengths, then, parallel the franchises’ own individual assets. The characters’ dream sequences are characteristically rife with invention, boasting a number of novel and delightfully gory deaths that reinstate Krueger as the master of truly disturbing imagery. The character is perversion incarnate, and really comes into his own once he finally gets Jason where he wants him: trapped in his own unconscious. Voorhees is not left out, however, and as he beats Freddy to a number of victims – including one sequence in which he massacres a crowd of ravers whilst himself on fire – is cast as more of a relentless juggernaut than ever, one that you can’t help but cheer on as he accepts the unenviable challenge of shutting Freddy up once and for all.

While Freddy vs. Jason lacks the depth of Craven’s original movie and struggles to instil any new energy whatsoever into the endlessly repetitive Jason Voorhees, it does at least provide a fitting end to two of cinemas most iconic movie monsters, at least before their respective remakes robbed them of life completely. It really is tremendous fun, immortalising two franchises that were running the risk of – like Freddy in the opening sequence – being forgotten forever.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

  1. Pingback: March 2012 – Fire all things that go bang! « popcornaddict

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