FREDDY VS JASON
Director: Ronny Xu
Year of release: 2003
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 97 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Tagline: "A fright to the death".
Estimated budget: $30,000,000
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: With his glory days of terrorising kids on Elm Street long behind him Freddy finds himself forgotten about and thus powerless and no longer able to deal damage in the dream world. It turns out this is largely due to the police force and the adults of Springwood covering up the whole affair by isolating those kids who’ve encountered Freddy in the past. These types find themselves confined to a psyche ward with their dreams supressed by drugs. As such no one of a certain age remembers Freddy anymore with his legend all but dying out.
In an effort to get back in the game Freddy comes up with the idea of unleashing Jason Vorhees on an unprepared Elm Street. Knowing a fresh killing spree will throw up his name again Freddy hopes to become relevant once again off the back of Jason’s work to the point where he can regain his diminished powers and feed off a new wave of fear.
As he becomes ever stronger Freddy’s plan seems to be working nicely until it becomes clear that with his role now fulfilled Jason is unwilling to step meekly aside. With the latest crop of Elm Street kids caught in the middle the two villains square off in a battle of the monsters.
Good points: *The fight sequences between the two heavyweight bad guys look really slick and well put together. It does take a little while for them to kick in with the pair only truly locking horns in the last third of the film but when it happens it’s worth the wait. It’s evident a lot of money has been poured into the project during these parts and it makes for an action packed finale with both excitement and visual flair. When it comes to the big battle it’s kind of a game of two halves as well with a part which takes place in the dreamworld and another in the real world so both combatants have the advantage at one point. Though not perfect it’s overall a very satisfying sequence which delivers what was promised.
*There are a couple of very small bits thrown in which do something to build on the history and backstory of both killers. Firstly at the very beginning with Freddy talking about his past crimes and more notably something with a young Jason where we briefly see him being bullied way back in the day. I would’ve liked to have seen more of this kind of thing and fleeting though these bits were I think they added something to the film.
*Very much playing second fiddle to Jason and Freddy but still doing a good job are some of the civilian human characters. Lori as final girl was fine and she and love interest Will made for a likeable combination. Better though I thought were both Linderman and Mark. The former provided some effective comic relief as the nerd outcast type who grew in confidence as things went on while Mark added a bit of a grittier side to the proceedings. In relation to him and Will I also enjoyed seeing a glimpse of the old Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital last seen back in Dream Warriors.
*Very mild spoilers: For a film with a rather high body count perhaps more of them should have stood out than they did but despite that there are a handful of kills which really satisfy. The highlights for me were an early one involving a folding bed, Freeburg’s demise and several of the murders carried out by Jason at the rave/cornfield which was a cool backdrop.
Bad Points: *To start off with a small nit pick I didn’t like how they tried to make out that Jason is afraid of water. It ties in with his situation as a kid sure but it’s never been something mentioned before and several of the previous Friday films have even included parts where Jason has not only looked comfortable in water but even pulled off some water based kills.
On another nit pick note it was contrived that Camp Crystal Lake was situated so close to Elm Street with the characters seemingly able to drive between the two very quickly.
*It seemed like a bit more emphasis was put on Freddy over Jason making it feel a lot more like A Nightmare on Elm Street film than as Friday the 13th one. Freddy’s a great character so it’s not a big deal really but going in I was thinking it would be more 50/50 but it’s hard to shake the feeling that Jason is more of a bit part player and merely a pawn in what turns out to be Freddy’s show.
For people who’re huge Friday fans but who don’t really care too much for Freddy and his more comedic approach then perhaps this leaning more towards Freddy would be a disappointment. In a possible effort to balance things though most of the kills are credited to Jason so there is that.
*Early on in the film I didn’t think the story made much sense. I’ll concede that chronologically it at least follows on to some extent from parts 6 and 9 of the respective franchises with both characters maybe being confined to Hell at the end of those instalments. It wasn’t clear however why it was that Freddy could so easily reanimate Jason and return him to the real world. Unless maybe the Devil himself were to set them free then wouldn’t they both be stuck in Hell for all eternity? Isn’t that usually how it works?
Also I didn’t understand the whole thing about Freddy loosing his powers because the Elm Street kids don’t remember him anymore. What difference would that make as in the original the kids initially didn’t know anything about him at all but that didn’t stop him back then? It makes sense that he wouldn’t be able to hurt the kids in the institution seeing that they’re not dreaming but for the others in and around Elm Street like Lori and her friends it’d be business as usual. You could argue it isn’t the same this time as he’s in Hell now but why would kids fearing him again enable him to get out of Hell? He’s either stuck there or he isn’t, fear shouldn’t come into it.
Verdict: Largely delivering what it says on the tin Freddy vs Jason is entertaining once it hits it’s stride. It does however take a bit too long to get going with the actual confrontation and fight scenes between the monsters.
The story is also somewhat sloppy early on and it for me didn’t have quite the feel of a proper slasher film. It’s the nature of the beast to some extent though I guess as they couldn’t use a more traditional slasher story setup with this being such a different animal geared towards setting opposing forces up against each other.
I’d also have liked to have seen a darker, grittier and more realistic vibe to things as it all pays out a bit like an over the top action movie with cartoon violence. Seeing how much damage the villains can sustain however that was inevitable.
In spite of some niggling issues it’s still great fun seeing two legendary slasher figures not only in the same movie but fighting each other into the bargain. All in all it’s a slice of light entertainment that mostly hits the right switches.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1)Trey: Stabbed with machete and folded up in bed.
2)Blake’s Dad: Decapitated with machete.
3)Blake: Killed with machete.
4)Raver with glow sticks: Impaled on pipe.
5)Gibb: Same as #4.
6)Raver: Head twisted around.
7)Raver (Shack?): Impaled with burning machete.
8), 9) 10), 11), 12) and 13): All ravers killed very quickly with machete at cornfield.
14)Mark: Catches fire then killed with glove in the dreamworld.
15)Security Guard: Crushed under metal door.
16)Stubbs (Policeman): Electrocuted on console.
17)Freeburg: Cut in half with machete.
18)Linderman: Impaled on wall bracket which later causes him to bleed to death.
19)Kia: Impaled on tree with machete.