Review: “Freddy vs. Jason”

Neither scary nor funny as many of the other film’s entries have been, ‘Freddy’ relies more on a stylish look and quite brutal gore in favour of actual creativity. In the 90-minute film, its not until the last half hour that our two favourite baddies actually go at it and when they do, you do get bang for your buck. Yes its best to think of the first hour as “Dawson’s Creek” minus the quirks and decent writing’, ‘With the exception of that abortion of a movie entitled “Jason X” last year, it’s been nearly ten years since both the “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” franchises came up with their last entries. Both film series are typically eighties, both have some great and awful entries, and both started out as distinctly horror films before becoming more humourous in nature.

Each horror fan out there has their own fave and whilst I’ve watched every entry in both series at least several times, without a doubt ‘Nightmare’ has and always will be my favourite horror franchise due to both its concept and stylish execution (I recommend films 1, 3, 4 & 7 in the Elm St series, films 1, 3 & 6 in the Friday series) – Jason may have the body count but at least Freddy had personality. That said this idea of a teamup of the two icons has been in development for longer than I’ve been running this site. “Freddy vs. Jason” has been on the official drawing boards in one form or another since at least the early 90’s and New Line has gone through countless scripts and ideas before settling on the final concept.

The choice of director was an interesting one – Ronny Yu. Yu was responsible for “Bride of Chucky”, a film which took a third-rate horror franchise and turned it into one of the better black comedies for genre fans in a long time. It wasn’t genius by any means but it, like “Halloween: H20”, managed to bring a little freshness into an otherwise dead 80’s horror series. If you have any expectation for “Freddy vs. Jason” though its best to quell them for now – as a clash of the titans FvJ falls far short.

Neither scary nor funny as many of the other film’s entries have been, ‘Freddy’ relies more on a stylish look and quite brutal gore in favour of actual creativity. In the 90-minute film, its not until the last half hour that our two favourite baddies actually go at it and when they do, you do get bang for your buck. Yes its best to think of the first hour as “Dawson’s Creek” minus the quirks and decent writing, whilst the last half hour becomes a WWF style smackdown as the pair literally go at it hard and fast from throwing oxygen tanks at each other to hacking into each other with knives and machettes in often blood-spurting, limb-tearing ways.

Is it worth sitting through that first hour? Honestly not – the exposition in some of this is absolutely atrocious from Freddy’s plot lead-throughs to extremely rushed and cobbled together dialogue in some scenes (“Freddy died by fire, Jason by water – how can we use that?”). So much time was seemingly spent coming up with the admittedly quite clever concept of Freddy using Jason to cause fear and restore his strength, that when it comes to adding detail to that framework and some decent human characters the writers just said “who cares?”.

Whilst Robert Englund does his usual (albeit less comical) fine work as Freddy, Kelly Rowland also does ok as a slight sidekick character, and yet none of the others from Monica Keena to Jason Ritter stick out at all. The first half and the setups of many of the characters backstories (from the rookie cop who just arrived to the death of our heroinne’s mom) would give the likes of “Scary Movie” a run for its money in the wince-inducing stakes, and so many of the character deaths in the end just fizzle (those looking for elaborate kills should look elsewhere).

I was prepared to write this movie off as pretty much the dullest of both franchises when all of a sudden, everything changes. The last act kicks off with Jason tranquilized and arriving in Freddy’s boiler room dreamscape – from then on its one of the best and most brutal mano-e-mano fight scenes I’ve seen on film in a while.

Yu can definitely direct action and gives us some great moments including at least four major fight scenes, and some interesting psychological elements (incl. Jason’s nightmares) – hell, even those dull as dishwater kids begin to become interesting with Rowland particularly getting a light-hearted moment. Had this been more like the tone of the rest of the movie it would be a hearty recommend, but whilst the fight scene might be cool its just not enough to justify sitting through all the crap before it.

All up this is just at best a middle-of-the-road entry in the ‘Nightmare’ series & a better than average ‘Friday’. For such a long-awaited teamup it does satisfy a little, but diehard fans will be asking why didn’t they hold this one in development for a bit longer.