New Line Cinema/Crystal Lake Entertainment
Directed by Ronny Yu
Produced by Sean S. Cunningham/Robert Shaye
Written by Damian Shannon/Mark Swift
Based on characters created by Wes Craven & Victor Miller
It’s not supposed to be so much daggone fun to watch people getting killed in the most graphic and horrendous ways imaginable. It’s not supposed to be intoxicating to see so much blood gushing in all directions. But intoxicating fun is exactly what FREDDY VS. JASON is from start to finish. It’s a manic gorefest that hits the ground running right from the start and doesn’t stop. If you were to pause the movie for a minute and actually try to make logical sense of the events of the movie, you’d stop watching. But because the energy level of the movie is so high and you’ve got one wickedly brutal murder coming so fast on the heels of the previous one that the blood hardly has had time to dry, you don’t care. Well, let me put it this way: I didn’t care.
FREDDY VS. JASON is in the tradition of those great Universal movies in which they would team up their monsters. Movies such as “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man” “House of Frankenstein” and “House of Dracula” threw together The Frankenstein Monster, Dracula and the Wolfman scheming, plotting and battling each other. In this one it’s Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) who does most of the plotting but once Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) gets an idea of what’s going on, Jason comes back hard in his own fashion. After all, when you’re unkillable and indestructible you don’t have to be a strategic genius.
Freddy Kruger has lost much of his power due to the fact that over time, the adults of Springwood have suppressed any and all information about him. So the current generation of teenagers living in the town has never even heard his name and has no idea he exists. This leaves Freddy stranded in a sort of limbo between Hell and The Dreamworld. But he can cross between the two realms and he does so to find a pawn that he can use to regain his power. Freddy finds Jason Voohees in a state of suspended animation dreaming of slaughtering misbehaving teenagers and of his beloved mother. Freddy uses those dreams to manipulate Jason into resurrecting himself (how does he keep doing that?) Freddy then sends Jason after the Springwood teenagers, figuring that the killings will be attributed to him and the resultant fear and terror will feed him power.
Not a bad plan at all as far as plans go, right? But the problem is that Jason Voorhees is like the living incarnation of that Rolling Stones song “Start Me Up.” Once you get him started, he’ll never stop. Jason proceeds to decimate the teenage population of Springwood and Freddy realizes that if Jason does kill off all the kids that then he’ll be right back in the same predicament he was in at the start of the movie. So now Freddy has a vested investment in stopping his pawn. At the same time, a heroic band of teens have learned about Freddy and figure that the only way to stop him is for one of them to go into The Dreamworld and bring him back into the real world and force Jason to battle Freddy. As you might have surmised by now, this movie’s plot is built upon a lot of plans that go horrendously wrong.
But you want to know what’s really important: do Freddy and Jason fight? Yes, they do throw down not once but twice. The first fight is in The Dreamworld where Freddy has home court advantage and the second takes place in the real world. At Camp Crystal Lake, no less which is Jason’s turf. The battles have all the sophistication of a WWE wrestling match but they’re just as entertaining. Freddy and Jason hack and slash at each other with machete and razor-blade glove, rip limbs off of each other, send each other flying through the air with kicks and punches that could stun an elephant and get back up for more mayhem.
The acting is this one isn’t anything to brag about and forget about characterization. 99% of the cast is dead by the end of the movie anyway. The cast is there for only one reason, to be killed by either Freddy or Jason and they do their jobs admirably. But the three standouts would have to be Monica Keena as Lori, Our Heroine. Kelly Rowland as Our Heroine’s Best Friend and Jason Ritter (John Ritter’s son) as Our Heroine’s Boyfriend. Somebody really needs to work on getting Kelly Rowland into more movies. I’ve only seen her in this and “The Seat Filler” and both times I was struck dumb at how gorgeous she is on screen. And she throws herself into every scene she’s in with sheer gusto. She demonstrates a gift for comedy in the scene where she’s persuaded by her friends (some friends!) to give Jason mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Robert Englund in particular appears to be having the time of his life as Freddy. Not that Englund didn’t give it everything he had in all of his performances as Freddy. One thing Mr. Englund can never be accused of is phoning it in. But he seems to be taking a particular relish in playing Freddy as the behind-the-scenes manipulator/puppet master working the other characters in the movie. There isn’t much one can say about Ken Kirzinger’s performance as Jason because one really doesn’t need to perform as Jason. One simply needs to be big and intimidating and on that level, Mr. Kirzinger delivers.
So should you see FREDDY VS. JASON? Absolutely. It’s without a doubt an extremely well made movie, one of the best in the series. Everybody throws themselves into it with a great deal of enthusiasm that more than makes up for any plot holes and director Ronny Yu knows how to keep the story moving with not so much as slowing down for a minute. And there’s a lot of neat little callbacks to elements from both the “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” series. I love a horror movie (or any movie for that matter) that knows exactly what it’s supposed to be and succeeds at being that. Enjoy.
Oh, and P.S.: while this movie is the last of the “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, when I re-watch the series every October I leave “New Nightmare” for last for reasons I’ll go into in my review of that movie. But I recommend that you do that also.