Freddy Vs. Jason

He’s been forgotten for 4 years.  No one speaks his name.  No one dreams about him.  No one is afraid of him anymore.  But Freddy Krueger has a plan.  Despite being burned alive by vengeful parents after narrowly avoiding a lengthy prison sentence for killing their children, despite being killed off in sequel after sequel after sequel after endlessly resurrecting himself in the nightmares of new victims, he’s found yet another way, a loophole, if you will, to bring the terror back to Elm Street.
Enter Jason Voorhees.  By pretending to be his crazed mother, Freddy is somehow able to convince the Crystal Lake killer to do his dirty work for him, to kill teenagers in order to spread fear throughout the entire community.  Essentially, he needs him to be his warm-up act.  Freddy needs to feed off their fears in order to regain his old powers so that he can get back to killing on his own terms.  Jason doesn’t let him down.
That’s the premise of Freddy Vs. Jason, a great title in search of a great movie.  Essentially, it’s a predictably overwrought and unscary Dead Teenager Movie, to borrow Roger Ebert’s famous description.  It’s another awful, illogical mess but with good visuals and a few, genuinely funny moments.  Put another way, it’s the worst Nightmare On Elm Street movie and the best Friday The 13th sequel, a dubious double achievement.
Monica Keena plays Lori Campbell, a troubled, busty teen with a lot of heavy drama in her life.  Her mother died in a car accident (or so she was told) and her father never remarried.  Her ex-boyfriend, Will Rollins (Jason Ritter), believes Dr. Campbell murdered her, an accusation that landed him in a psychiatric ward.  His attempts to contact her by snail mail have all failed.
Lori and her father live on 1428 Elm Street and on a dark and stormy night when he’s away, her ridiculous friends, Kia (a remarkably bitchy and self-conscious Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child), and Gibb (Katharine Isabelle), a busty, chain-smoking drunk, keep her company by playing a couple of rounds of Fuck, Marry, Kill.  The Howard Stern Show, this isn’t.
Then, a couple of dudes show up with more booze.  One of them is Gibb’s obnoxious boyfriend.  (She’s only with him because she loves his ass.  Yes, she’s that shallow, which explains why she puts up with his constant complaining and bad manners.)  The other is a rebound guy for Lori who, unfortunately for him, still pines for Will.  In fact, the sensible Lori is put off by his presence altogether.  The crotch scratching and his feng shui schtick are a tough sell.  (Kia pulls her aside at one moment and basically tells her to live in the present and get laid.  Great advice to give a virgin in a horror movie.)
Not too long after that, someone is brutally murdered.  Local law enforcement have a pretty good idea who the culprit is but they keep things on the down low.  Later that same night, Lori has her first nightmare about Freddy in an interrogation room in the police station.
Meanwhile, a TV report about the crime is seen briefly by Will’s friend, Mark (Brendan Fletcher), at that same psychiatric ward.  After talking it over with him, Mark decides to hatch a plan to get them both out of there in the dead of night.  Will is worried sick about his former girlfriend and wants to personally find out if she’s alright.  Mark’s brother allegedly committed suicide but Mark believes he was bumped off by Freddy.  Like Lori, he’s had similiar nightmares and that’s the reason he’s in the nuthouse. 
Neither of the two friends have had any bad dreams since being institutionalized.  We learn that’s because all the patients there take a dangerous drug that suppresses them.  How dangerous is it?  Well, the FDA hasn’t approved it yet and if you take too much, you have a lovely coma to look forward to.  (According to the Internet Movie Database, this is a reference to Dream Warriors, the third Nightmare movie, which I’d completely forgotten about.  It’s only slightly better than this one.)
After making contact with Lori and her dopey pals, Jason continues his brainless manhunt while Freddy slowly recuperates his evil powers.  There’s a massacre at an outdoor rave, a return trip to the psychiatric hospital and an inevitable series of confrontations between Freddy and Jason.  Once Freddy is back to full strength, he decides to eliminate Jason the best way he knows how:  through his own nightmares.  Like every other character who’s ever come in contact with him, though, he can’t believe how impossible it is to kill him off.  The laws of science have never applied to him.  His numerous victims, however?  Oh, they apply, alright.
In every movie of this nature, we get the usual, archetypical characters.  Besides the aforementioned virgin, bitch, smoker/alcoholic, and jerky horndogs, we get a sometimes amusing stoner, a well-meaning (and sometimes amusing) nerd who suddenly stands up for himself and a very helpful police officer who’s not aware of the longstanding Krueger blackout, a multi-year movement of silence intended to snuff out the threat of Freddy for good.  (The plan, which involves redacting records of his existence and, absurdly, the names of his many victims, is preposterous, hard to enforce and more than a little ridiculous.  Besides, the overeager Mark unintentionally screws it all up rather easily, anyway.  No wonder he was locked up.)  You could cast all these familiar roles with the best actors you could think of.  The result would be the same:  uninteresting characters we never get too attached to who aren’t long for this movie.
There is one moment, though, that is deeply appreciated.  At one point, Kia finds herself face to face with Freddy.  She puts him down hilariously by mocking his sweater and his glove of finger knives.  She correctly notes the bitter truth that few will say out loud:  he really isn’t scary.  How can he be when he’s referencing FDR and Don Rickles for throwaway punchlines?  The character is not unlike The Cryptkeeper from those old Tales From The Crypt comic books, the source material for the Hollywood horror genre.  He can’t resist bad puns and overused cliches.
The odd thing about Freddy Vs. Jason is how it feels more like a Nightmare sequel drenched in the blood of Friday The 13th with the masked man taking a back seat to the child killer.  Completely ignoring what takes place in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and Jason X, this film picks up where Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare and Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday left off.  It begins with a double resurrection and ends with yet another promise of more mayhem in the future, even though neither villain should be alive, especially the one without a body.
And that’s the biggest frustration about both of these franchises.  No matter how many times these characters experience death, no matter how many of their body parts get sliced off, no matter how many times you burn them, drown them, stab them, shoot them and even, explode them, like some miracle out of the New Testament, they always return fully intact for more bloodshed in a follow-up feature.
After suffering through 18 of these movies (7 Nightmares, 10 Fridays and Freddy Vs. Jason) over the last 4 years, I’ve reached my breaking point.  Most of these movies stink more than freshly made cat turds roasting in the hot Arizona sun, while the rest never reached their full potential.  There just aren’t many areas left to be fully explored by either franchise, but that won’t stop New Line Cinema from squeezing out every last dollar they can.  For instance, it’s only a matter of time before we get the inevitable prequels (Freddy’s Springwood Slasher days; Jason’s first 11 years, how he cheated death the first time, and how he lived before becoming a killer).  Beyond those plots, though, where else can either of these franchises go without repeating themselves yet again?
Hopefully, no one is willing to answer that question.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
9:10 p.m.
Published in: on July 3, 2007 at 9:09 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] deplorable Jason X in 2002, the two most prolific horror villains of the 80s returned together in Freddy Vs. Jason.  As I wrote in that linked review, “it’s the worst Nightmare On Elm Street movie and the […]

  2. […] The most recent news is that Paramount is planning to release another Friday The 13th film on November 13th, 2015. No real details have been confirmed, like whether this will be a sequel to the 2009 reboot, or another brand-new reboot, or a continuation of the original timeline which ended with 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. […]

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