Ready To Rumble
17 movies between them. 23 years of slicing and dicing numerous victims. Now, ten years after the ending of Jason Goes to Hell hinted at a future meeting between the two slasher icons, the film pitting dream-demon Freddy Krueger and camp counselor-killer Jason Voorhees against one another has finally arrived. Freddy vs. Jason is a movie for the fans, for those who grew up being Freddy or Jason on Halloween.
However, this flick isn't for detractors of either series or for anyone who finds fault in the idea of two seemingly unstoppable killers going head to head against one another. Freddy vs. Jason is designed only to give the fans what they want, and what they get is their average Friday the 13th or A Nightmare on Elm Street feature spiced up by the presence of these two genre giants. In a summer where Wrong Turn and 28 Days Later have been the lone chill-providers, it’s nice to encounter a "just plain fun" horror flick to finish up the season.
Through beginning narration, Freddy (Robert Englund), the razor-fingered slasher, fills the audience in on what’s been going on since his last cinematic rampage. The town of Springwood, Freddy’s old stomping grounds, has managed to get rid of nearly every trace of Krueger’s name, locking up those who know about him and suppressing their dreams through medication.
With no one able to remember or fear him, Freddy has no power, thus putting him in a bit of a spot. Fortunately for him, he’s found the perfect vessel to start anew: resurrecting Jason (Ken Kirzinger) and sending him on a mission to start slaughtering the kids of Elm Street in order to arouse suspicion about Freddy’s return. The dream dweller gradually gathers up more power while Jason terrorizes Lori (Monica Keena) and her friends, but he learns too late that his lap dog enjoys the spotlight, killing off all the sex-charged teenagers Freddy wanted for himself. Thus begins the path toward the ultimate slasher showdown, pitting Freddy against Jason in a fight that Lori and her friends hope to survive.
Perhaps the Freddy vs. Jason story isn’t the freshest apple from the barrel, but neither franchise (with the exception of the Elm Street series, which had great plots for its first and seventh chapters) is noted for industry-changing plots. Still, the premise here is good enough to keep the fans happy by providing an opportunity to bring the deformed killers under the same roof. It helps that director Ronny Yu (Formula 51) knows his way around a slasher sequel, having had success in helming the great Bride of Chucky. Yu injects into Freddy vs. Jason a similar sense of dark comedy and buckets of blood coexisting alongside one another.
Fans of both characters will be pleased to see the titular killers receiving enough screen time to leave their respective marks. As he gains more power, Freddy manages to get a teen or two via their dreams, and Jason rampages like there’s no tomorrow.
Their best scenes come near the end, when Freddy and Jason do battle against one another in their own domains. While playing it by numbers when it comes to the slicing and dicing scenes, Yu shows great skill in staging the two fight scenes, sequences that will have slasher fans everywhere dropping their jaws (one word: pinball). Both are too cool to spoil, but I will say that if you came to Freddy vs. Jason just to see them fight, then the price of admission was well worth it. Englund, who’s played Freddy since the beginning, reprises his most famous role in all of Freddy’s razor-fingered, one-liner spewing glee. Ken Kirzinger, who takes over the role of Jason from Kane Hodder, does a decent job conveying the feelings of the character; once Freddy unveils his ruse, there’s no stopping Jason from striking back.
It’s too bad that except for the title characters, there’s no one else in Freddy vs. Jason who’s really interesting. It’s the same predictable group composed of people you know will and won’t die, accompanied by a screenplay with a story too interesting for the tepid dialogue and characterizations that come along with it.
28 Days Later, The Ring, and Willard emerged as solid examples of how great the new millennium has been for the horror genre. Freddy vs. Jason, on the other hand, is more like Final Destination 2 and Darkness Falls, providing a freaky good time at the movies while embracing the fun side of the genre. It’s an ideal midnight movie, an opportunity to watch two characters who have frightened audiences for over two decades go at each other on the big screen.
MY RATING: *** (out of ****)
(Released by New Line Cinema and rated "R" for pervasive strong horror violence/gore, gruesome images, sexuality, drug use and some language.)
Review also posted on www.ajhakari.com.