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Freddy Vs. Jason (2003)

R 97 minutes

Directed by Ronny Yu
Written by Mark Swift & Damian Shannon

 · Robert Englund
 · Ken Kirzinger
 · Monica Keena
 · Jason Ritter
 · Kelly Rowland

Review by Donnie

This is the type of movie they call "review proof", since there are really only three possible reactions to this film. You're either going to love it, you're completely uninterested in it, or you're going to give it the nerdy fanboy backlash of hatred because it doesn't live up to your decade's worth of expectations (which probably means you need a social life of some sort). Esteemed reviewers of the cinema simply have no place critiquing a movie of this nature, because it's not made for them. It's made for the horror geek in all of us, and that's where I come in.

If you were a horror nerd growing up in the 80s, you had to have a favorite: Freddy or Jason. Which one was scarier? Who would win if they ever had some sort of battle royale? When I was a kid I had a raving obsession with Freddy Krueger. I had the glove, I used to watch the short-lived TV show Freddy's Nightmares, and I even had a Freddy scrapbook full of movie tickets and articles. I couldn't tell you why I loved it so much because I really have no idea, but those films gave birth to the horror freak I grew up to become. They're always going to hold a nostalgic little place in my heart.

Then there was Jason Voorhees, the other titan of terror during the decade. In my opinion, the Friday The 13th franchise is nothing but a gorier rip off of Halloween, recycled over and over again. There isn't a plot to be found in all 10 films that couldn't be summed up on the back of a postage stamp. These aren't really horror films at all, but straight up comedies that happen to be filmed in Splattervision. And do I love them? Oh yes, yes I do. I never had the love for Jason that I do for Freddy, but there is something charming in his 'big dumb lug with loads of determination' persona. He never quits, no matter who might try to bring him down. It's kind of like the story of Seabiscuit, except with a machete and lots of dismemberment.




Considering the clashing source material, I couldn't help but wonder what sort of tone Freddy Vs. Jason would decide on. Three of the Nightmare movies (the original, Part 3, and the brilliant New Nightmare) are genuinely terrifying, clever horror... whereas the others are more campy fun. It turns out that they decided to throw both franchises into a blender and combine the best elements from the two. You get the clever scripting of the Nightmare movies (well, clever for a splatter film anyway) mixed with the all out gore and mayhem that we love about Friday the 13th.

One thing that impressed me most was the way the film managed to stay loyal to the backstories of both characters and convincingly weaved them into each other's worlds. The film starts off with Freddy's fear that nobody is afraid of him and he simply isn't relevant anymore, which is the deepest worry of every franchise star. The people living in his old slashing grounds of Springwood have effectively erased all record of his existence, thereby defeating him. The parents feed their children anti-dreaming drugs to keep the killer at bay, and all who know about him are quarantined from the outside world. What's a psycho to do? How about invade the dreamscape of Mr. Voorhees and convince him that he has to go to Elm Street for a little killing spree, thereby causing fear, havoc, and of course, nightmares? Sounds like a plan!

The problem, as we all know, is that Jason is a pesky unstoppable killing machine, and instead of causing a wave of fear he decides on a wave of flying limbs and bloodshed. He's a "don't stop till you get enough" kinda guy, which obviously doesn't leave any kills for Freddy to gain power from. This simply won't do, and this is when the battle to end all battles begins.

Director Ronny Yu brings the same sense of over the top fun he brought to Bride Of Chucky, and thankfully everyone else is in on the joke. God bless Robert Englund and his wonderful hamminess. He's been an amazing presence in every Nightmare movie, whether he's playing scary Freddy or comical showman Freddy. And then there's the guy who plays Jason, Ken Kirzinger. There's been a bit of an uproar in the Friday The 13th fanboy community about the fact that Kane Hodder isn't playing Jason, since he's the most famous man behind the mask. But really, who gives a shit? Anybody who has a large build that can walk and move their arms at the same time could play this part, and Ken somebody-or-other meets those requirements just perfectly. The regular humans in the movie are basically there only to move the plot along (and be killed of course), but all of them do a decent enough job. Even Kelly Rowland (a.k.a. that other one in Destiny's Child) isn't an embarrassment.




This film is all about the entertainment value. Most people who go to see Freddy Vs. Jason aren't going in hopes of Shakespearean-level plotting or a breakthrough in the horror genre. This is more like 'invite your friends over, get drunk and have a party' horror in its most grand incarnation. I can understand why some people would hate the film, depending on what you expect out of it. But for me, I found this gore-filled romp to be part comedy, part action movie, and a loving tribute to those of us who miss the simpler days when horror movies were about premarital sex, pot smoking, booze binging, and elaborately bloody deaths.

As much fun as this showdown between the two horror titans is, one can only hope it's success doesn't lead to lame knock-offs or sequels. Does anyone really want to see Pinhead vs. Michael Myers anytime soon? I doubt it. This flick is a fun-filled feast of over-the-top deaths and cheesy humor that would be tough to duplicate. Of course, that never stopped Hollywood from trying.



So, if you're looking for a scary horror movie, don't bother with this. If you're squeamish about blood, run in the other direction. But if you're nostalgic for that non-ironic kinda slasher flick that got wiped out with the creation of Scream, get your ass to the theater, or at least to the video store. For someone like me, this film is a time machine that instantly returns me to my childhood days. Some adults watch Disney movies and think back to when they were tykes... I watch something like Freddy Vs. Jason. If you're looking for a fun nostalgia trip that's a little smarter than you might expect, I suggest you place your bets and pick this one up.

1144 Words Published: 13 October 2003

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