Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
Usually cross-over flicks seem like the last stop in a flagging franchises journey before the wheels fall off. When it comes to slasher flicks, the nature of the genre is the exact opposite of more traditional horror flicks. Instead of rooting for their survival we cant wait for their evisceration. Freddy and Jason are tycoons of bloody teen tyranny; this is their business, and apparently, ladies and gentlemen, business is good.
It seems that Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) is not having a grand ole time in hell. This horrifically scarred former boogeyman used to slaughter the residents of Elm Street in creative yet gruesome manners. The residents of Elm Street have been giving their kids potent pills to stop them from dreaming, thus shutting the door on Freddy. Now Freddy isn’t even remembered, and as he so eloquently remarks, “that’s a real bitch.” He’s not down for the count, though. He reawakens Jason (Ken Kerzinger), an indestructible behemoth with lucky hockey mask and machete, to terrorize the residents of Elm Street so the fear quotient peaks and Freddy can regain power. Jason gets a little carried away, notably at a student rave in a corn field, and Freddy doesnt like Jason having all the murderous fun. Thus establishes a showdown.
For the first fifteen minutes or so, it appears like Freddy vs. Jason (no under card like Michael Myers vs. Pumpkinhead) is a winking parody of the slasher films it made famous. In the opening minutes we already get our first dose of gratuitous nudity as a foolhardy coed skinny-dips in some familiar camp waters. She actually says, while swimming naked, in the year 2003, “Where are you? This isn’t funny anymore!”
Another example of self-awareness occurs after the first murder on Elm Street. Immediately after a gruesome murder the trio of girls runs out the house shrieking, “HELP!” at the top of their lungs (and for Kelly Rowland that could get high). A passing police car stops by. The girls frantically bang on the car window, still crying for help. The officer rolls down his window and says plainly, “You girls need some assistance?” Don’t even get me started on the sudden appearance of a goat.
Director Ronny Yu previously resurrected the Chucky franchise with 1998’s Bride of Chucky and works his magic yet again. Yu’s staging of mayhem is alert and, despite an overly enthusiastic score, some dread does build. Some of his camera angles are also very unique.
The female lead (Monica Keena) seems like the definition of the blonde of slasher films. She’s mysteriously always wearing white (shes a virgin!) outfits that get drenched with water. Hmmm, wonder what the reasoning with that is? All the disposable one-note characters that populate horror films are here. The very bland male (Jason Ritter) lead looks remarkably like a Matt LeBlanc Jr., which could explain the incredible amount of blandness he exhibits. Rowland, she of Destiny and her children, plays the sassy best friend to our virginal protagonist.
I say with equivocal certainty that Rowland, in a movie entitled Freddy vs. Jason that also features the son of John Ritter, gives the worst performance in any horror movie ever. Yes, ever. Everything from her delivery, to facial expressions, to movement goes beyond suggesting, and flat-out screams that Rowland was not born with an acting bone.
Actually, the character and actress that most grew on me was Gibb played by Katherine Isabelle. She previously starred in Ginger Snaps, a really good Canadian horror flick about teen girls and werewolves (you know how teen girls are). With her doe-eyes and button nose, shes plain adorable and instantly likeable. This made it so much more surprising when the movie put her in a sequence where it appeared date rape was going to save her life. That’s probably a movie first.
Of course with a movie title like Freddy vs. Jason ya gotta have some hearty versus action. And its during these moments when the Gloved One and the Solemn Goalie duke it out that the film is really cooking with gas. The battles between these two are brutal, but also brutally entertaining. When they get to their final showdown, limbs hacked off, blood spewing like caramel geysers, and these two weary fighters are still going at it, then you know youre getting your moneys worth.
Freddy vs. Jason has the smartest collection of teens I may have ever seen in a slasher flick. They even have a roundtable discussion summarizing the plot and connecting the dots rather easily. “Jason was killed by water and Freddy was killed by fire. Maybe we can use that.” They dont. Its never mentioned again. But just the fact that this group is dissecting their situation calls out for a gold star. Theres a lot of dropped storylines here, like the father who may or may not have killed under Freddy’s influence. He just kind of drops in and out whenever necessary. Theres even a stoner character that wears a knit cap, has long wavy blonde hair, and spews forth profanities. I call criminal negligence for aping Jason Mewes (he the Jay part of Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob).
Freddy vs. Jason is nothing more than throw-away, trashy fun, but it’s a good way to waste an afternoon. I cant recall any other movie I verbally said ”Hell yeah” aloud during. The scene prompting this utterance was when a secondary character tries impaling Jason with an American flag. Yes, an American flag. I think that may deserve a second ”Hell yeah,” but I’m currently undecided. Fans of the slasher genre will love this film, and fans of somewhat self-referential old school horror will get a kick too. Ill say this; I wouldn’t mind seeing the rematch.
Nate’s Grade: B-