Freddy vs Jason (2003) – A Shamefully Indulgent Mess

Freddy vs Jason - Movie Poster

Overall: 2 out of 5 stars

Everyone loves the idea, right? Who would win in an epic battle to earn the title of baddest slasher of all time? These conversations resonate in basements, Internet forums and bars around the world. But, if we are all completely honest, these royal rumbles almost never work out. Freddy vs Jason seeks to change that dynamic in a big way. New Line Cinema purchased the rights to Jason Voorhees somewhere between the release of Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) and Jason Goes to Hell (1993)Many still  question the studio success in taking on the Jason Voorhees character and the opinions of fans are polarizing.

Freddy vs Jason - Freddy Kruger's Eyes
Freddy Kruger’s Eyes

New Line Cinema Doing New Line Things

For some, the new stewardship propelled the series into the fun zone by creating an expanded universe for Jason to play in. Jason Goes to Hell marked the first time that Jason abutted against other great franchises. In that film, the Voorhees mythology trades paint with both the Necronomicon of Evil Dead fame, and the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. For certain type of fan, this mash-up is a dream come true. For others, it stains the legacy of multiple franchises. Malevolent Dark parties in the later camp. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the screenplay for Freddy vs Jason, and Ronny Yu directs.

 

Freddy vs Jason - Flaming Jason Voorhees
A Flaming Jason Voorhees breaking up an illegal rave party

Freddy vs Jason – Where to Begin?

The film begins with a brief montage of the exploits of Freddy Kruger. It’s a bit of a highlight reel if you will. Freddy Kruger wallows powerless in hell because the living have forgotten about him. The fear that fuels his power has dried up. He searches the nether-regions of hell to find a champion to drum up fear. By impersonating Jason’s mother, Freddy demands that Jason go to Elm Street, to kill. Freddy uses that last of his powers to resurrect Jason in hopes that the fear he generates will recharge his powers allowing Freddy to return.

The only way to reap a ridiculous idea is to sow a ridiculous plot. For Cthulu’s sake, if Freddy has the power to impersonate Jason’s mother and resurrect Jason, doesn’t he have the power to resurrect himself. The eyes roll, the mind boggles, somebody get a barf bag.

Freddy vs Jason - Creative Kills, "Jock Taco"
Jason Voorhees kicks of the action with a piece titled “Jock Taco”

Bring on the Machete Fodder

Make no mistake, this film only exists to set up the finale. The producers stand up a few people to shred along the way, but their stories couldn’t be less important. Somehow they managed to talk Kelly Rowland into launching her acting career as Kia Waterson. Jason’s killing spree starts in Freddy’s old stomping grounds at 1428 Elm Street.

Freddy vs Jason benefits from not needing to pretend to be a serious horror film. Not a single soul in the audience expects a profound experience. That extremely liberating circumstance allows Ronny Yu to simply focus on fun kills and sight gags. I submit “Jock Taco” as exhibit 1A. Just one kill allows Freddy Kruger to start penetrating the dreams of the living, but he needs more fear to manifest in the physical. Jason obliges by piling on a few more bodies.

Freddy vs Jason – The Conflict

At first Freddy’s plan seems brilliant, however, Jason turns out to be far more proficient at killing than Freddy had anticipated. Quickly, Jason starts stealing Freddy’s kills and prevents Freddy from building his powers. Freddy hatches a plan to get Jason into the dream-world to game of Celebrity Deathmatch.

The Ultimate Battle

While Jason and Freddy battle in the dream-world, the teenagers come up with a cockamamie plan to transport Jason to Camp Crystal lake in order to wake him. This would draw Freddy out to the real world so that Jason could kill him once and for all. Since Jason is already at home at Camp Crystal lake, the teens plan to high-tail it back to Elm street and forget that all of the happened.

Freddy vs Jason - Jason Voorhees regressing to a fetal state
Freddy Kruger uses Jason’s fear of water to control him

It all sounds so simple, but In the dream world, Freddy clearly has the upper hand. Freddy discovers that Jason fears water. He uses that weakness to force Jason to regress back to his childhood days at Camp Crystal lake, including Jason’s original drowning. Jason writhes powerless while Freddy slowly drowns him. Lori, played by Monica Keena, sedates herself in order to save Jason. When the group of teens wake Lori, it pulls both Lori and Kruger into the real world where Jason looks to even the score.

The final battle ensues. Eventually, locked into a stalemate on the dock on Crystal Lake, Lori and her boyfriend blow up the dock with some conveniently placed explosive canisters. The fight ultimately ends with  Kruger and Voorhees killing each other sinking to the bottom of Crystal Lake. But of course, just before the final credits, Jason  emerges from the lake holding the living head of Freddy.

The full-fight is available below:

Freddy vs Jason, the Malevolent Dark Readout

This film, and every film like it, is not typically our cup of tea. The plot is ridiculous, the action corny and its whole purpose, vacuous. However, strangely, Malevolent Dark understand the allure of a movie like this. We understand the personalities that would pay for a ticket, and we certainly understand why New Line Cinema would want to make it. This film has everything that makes Wrestle Mania great. it’s the same reason that people love mashups of Jay-Z and the Beatles. Who is the greatest of all-time, Michael Jordan or Lebron James?

It’s Not for Everyone, but it is for Somebody

That all being said, Freddy vs Jason deserves some praise. Navigating the legal waters to make a film like this seem increasingly perilous. New Line Cinema took a risk bringing this long-shot to market. Ronny Yu stuck his head in the guillotine of public opinion in an emotionally charged genre. Heck, Kelly Rowland left the safe confines of Destiny’s Child to make this the opening salvo in her Hollywood career. Everyone took risks because a non-trivial contingent of ravenous fans wanted to see it.

We Call Them Like We See Them

Still, as far as Malevolent Dark is concerned, there is nothing much that feeds our fancy. Freddy vs Jason fumbles through total predictability, poor comedic timing and god-awful storytelling. For all the hype, the Royal Rumble fizzled like wet candle. Malevolent Dark’s overall score reflects this sentiment. Yet, Malevolent Dark refuses to equate the score to a recommendation not to see the film. If you heard the name Freddy vs. Jason and said, “Whoa, that sounds awesome!”, you’ll probably love the film. I rolled my eyes when I heard Freddy vs. Jason, and likewise, I didn’t like the film.

The bottom line is that Freddy vs Jason is as ridiculous as it sounds. The film flounders and is hopelessly devoid of inspiration. At least it’s not another reboot.

 

Freddy vs Jason (2003) - A Shamefully Indulgent Mess - Malevolent Dark
freddy vs jason movie poster e1624545607134

Director: Ronny Yu

Date Created: 2003-01-01 00:00

Editor's Rating:
2

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