FREDDY VS. JASON
Director: Ronny Yu
Cast: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Katharine Isabelle, Brendan Fletcher, Christopher George Marquette, Lochlyn Munro
MPAA Rating: (for pervasive strong horror violence/gore, gruesome images, sexuality, drug use and language)
Running Time: 1:35
Release Date: 8/15/03
Review by Mark Dujsik
Freddy Vs. Jason is a horror film for people who don't necessarily hate the genre in general but find themselves frustrated and disappointed by it more often than not. This is a movie that I remember hearing rumors about when I was young—let's say a little over a decade ago. Now it arrives, not as a horror movie, but as an homage to everything we've come to expect from horror movies and a subtle nudge in the ribs to those same conventions. Director Ronny Yu plays with the clichés, from the gratuitous nudity to the grotesque death scenes to the teenage depravity that leads the unstoppable killers to inflict punishment, and gives us one of the better examples of the post-modern (or would this be post-post-modern now that it's going back to the genre's modern roots?) school of horror filmmaking. Yu and screenwriters David S. Goyer, Damian Shannon, and Mark Swift manage—either by some adept work or an incredibly lucky twist of fate—to lure us into the total and utter absurdity of the film gradually, working over our expectations, allowing us to discover the film's sense of humor, and finishing off with the intense titular battle of two horror icons.
Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) of the Nightmare on Elm Street series has been dead for some time now, but what's even worse for the demon serial killer is that he has been forgotten. Without fear, Freddy has no way of invading the dreams of those he so longs to torture and kill. So to help people remember his name, he invades the dreams of fellow mass murderer Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) of the Friday the 13th franchise, who has also been dead for some time, to convince him to start a killing spree on Freddy's old home turf on Elm Street. There we meet the usual assortment of potential victims, including Lori (Monica Keena), the virginal heroine with a death in the past, Kia (Kelly Rowland), the beauty-conscious one, and Gibb (Katharine Isabelle), the tomboy. Needless to say, Jason knocks off a couple of unimportant characters, and the police try to quash rumors that Freddy has returned home. All of that will be for naught when Will (Jason Ritter) and Mark (Brendan Fletcher) escape from an asylum to make sure Lori, Will's childhood girlfriend, is safe.
The movie starts off essentially as the next Nightmare on Elm Street movie, but it slowly grows into the movie the title suggests. The movie's diabolical sense of humor is established right away with a superfluous skinning dipping/murder scene. A few gory deaths follow, which include the use of a fold-up bed and a decapitated head as a practical but useless shield, and Yu mocks the rule that bad behavior leads to violent retribution. Note the way that Jason's signature breathing appears immediately after one victim takes a swig from a flask. Yu also stylishly realizes the nightmare scenes, giving them a genuine sense of creepiness. But it's when Freddy and Jason start to indirectly compete against each other for victims in a cornfield party scene that the movie finds its footing. I can and would not deny that my face was stuck in a big, goofy smile from this sequence on. Freddy has a passed-out partier trapped in a nightmare warehouse, and Jason is stalking around, searching for debauchery. And when he finds it, the body count swiftly rises (I doubt this is the most squibs ever used in a movie, but I can't remember this much blood spraying in a while).
Once it hits this point, the movie takes on the
structure of the old monster fight movies. It
lets each creature do their own dirty work and then has them come together in an
extended mêlée. The screenwriters
are smart to give us the monsters' back story, especially for those who—like
me—haven't been completely loyal to either series, and to simplify their
motivations and methods. Jason is
the big, misunderstood oaf who kills because it's the only thing he can do;
Freddy is the crude, misogynistic charmer who kills because it's what he does
best. On a comic level, Freddy is
the jokester, and Jason is the silent one. The
story with the teenagers continues, but it becomes more and more ridiculous and,
as Yu has set us in that mood, even funnier. Eventually, Freddy and Jason find themselves in fighting in Freddy's
warehouse and Jason's stomping ground at Camp
Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.
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