A F*ck-Marry-Kill kill game with the Three Stooges, played by a reluctant Kelly Rowland from Destiny’s Child? That fun tone sets the groundwork for Freddy vs. Jason, a mad crossover worthy of NBA wunderkind Steph Curry. It’s a film that has absolutely no business being this fun.
With Freddy’s powers dwindling (they’re derived from FDR’s famous line, “the only thing you have to fear, is fear itself”) it seems nobody in fictional Springwood has anything to be afraid of anymore. He can’t fulfill his kills, and life is back to normal in blah suburbia.
To add some juice, Freddy conjures up the dormant underworld form of Jason Voorhees to drum up a little bit of terror on terra firma.
The big galoot starts offing teenagers, including one clamped shut in his bed that alludes to the famous Jason kill from Friday the 13th Part II, as well as Johnny Depp’s boudoir demise in A Nightmare on Elm Street. The infamous address of 1428 Elm St. is suddenly the site of horrors again, and destined to be on the market for decades.
Suddenly, cops have something to do with themselves far removed from the halcyon policing days of John Saxon.
Kids are drugged up in the local sanitarium, wigged out on Hypnocil and having mercifully dream-free slumbers. But with Jason wreaking havoc, Freddy’s powers are slowly returning and two butchers are laying waste to the town.
Directory Ronny Yu smartly goes all Nightmare with this, and it’s a far more believable conceit that Jason could exist in Freddy’s suburban milieu than the other way ’round. Still, we get a brief glimpse of a Camp Crystal Lake dock, and a hot girl’s knocked off in the first scene.
Freddy vs Jason features glorious kills, a terrific Mexican stand-off finish from two of pop culture’s most infamous slashers, and you’re left with something that not only doesn’t stink, but is unabashedly good clean fun.
Stunt-like setups like this could get outta hand (especially if there’s a third icon to double up on the “vs,”) but as a one-off, it’s darn decent.
[Be sure to check out our Freddy vs Jason podcast!]
***1/4 (out of 5)
2 thoughts on “Freddy vs. Jason”
When I first saw this in theaters, I admit I was looking forward to seeing Robert Englund in the Freddy makeup one last time. I wasn’t expecting much; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was the last Elm Street entry I enjoyed because the director of the original film was once again at the helm of what had otherwise devolved into a franchise that had gone stale and too tongue-in-cheek for my liking. And I’d never really cared for the Friday the 13th franchise, which was somewhat good the first time but by the tenth outing had really outlived whatever usefulness it might have had in the slasher subgenre of horror.
Maybe it was the low expectations that surprised me so much, but what I watched fourteen years ago now was—and still is—actually good. Sure, it had its flaws (everybody figures out what’s going on between Freddy Kreuger and Jason Vorhees a little too quickly, for example), but such, I think, were a deliberate trade-off in order for the writers and director to tell their story. And unlike most writers and directors who claim to be fans of the movies they’re rebooting, it was clear from the beginning that Ronny Yu, Damian Shannon, and Mark Swift really were, and they weren’t going to just make any old schlock movie featuring iconic slasher characters. They HAD to tell a story fans of the two franchises would actually like, and that they did. It was actually plausible, for one, given the supernatural element to both characters, using the setup they did. The teens rounding out the cast of victims were, in the Elm Street mold, likeable, believable, and you actually cared when they were killed off. Who does that anymore?
Writers and directors these days are less auteurs and more just ass clowns showing up, clocking in, and churning out whatever crap the industry wants churned out, never thinking beyond their paychecks. There’s no vision anymore, no message in movies other than “We think you’re stupid and you keep proving it by buying tickets.” But Yu, Shannon, and Swift demonstrated that you can still tell a compelling, believable story with well rounded, likeable characters and make it entertaining. In a sense, the film is a stand-in for the truth that studios can’t let go of franchises to tell stories that are fresh and risky, only endlessly resurrect them to rake in the money at moviegoers’ expense. Maybe that message, more than that the film-makers themselves had told their story and moved on, is why we haven’t had a follow-up: it hit the studios a little too close to home.
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