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Freddy vs. Jason By Julio Diaz
Let's face it: if you hate horror movies, nothing I can say is going to convince you to see Freddy vs. Jason. Likewise, if you're an aficionado of the genre, you've been eagerly anticipating this flick for about a decade, and even calling it the worst thing since Gigli wouldn't be enough to keep you from plunking down your eight bucks.
So in reviewing the movie, let's make it clear: all you horror haters can safely stay home; the merging of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises hasn't suddenly, inexplicably resulted in, say, Merchant-Ivory fare. But if you have ever counted yourself as a fan of either series, you'll want to check this one out.
The people of Springwood (the town that contains Elm Street) have finally found a way to beat supernatural serial killer Freddy Krueger for good: they've made the children of the town forget him through a combination of censorship, institutionalization, and an experimental drug called Hypnocil that suppresses dreams. This, of course, is hell for the egomaniacal Freddy, who can handle being dead, but can't tolerate being forgotten. So he hatches an evil scheme: he resurrects Jason Voorhees, figuring the Camp Crystal Lake Kid can spread enough fear to allow him to manifest again.
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It works, of course (there wouldn't be a movie otherwise). Jason starts hacking up defenseless teens in various stages of inebriation and undress; inevitably, the town elders start fearing it's Freddy; and once the teenaged victims hear his name, it’s like saying “Beetlejuice” three times – showtime.
There’s just one hitch in Freddy’s plan: Jason won’t go away. In one of the film’s best sequences, Voorhees hacks his way through a cornfield-set rave with the efficiency of a combine, and the bodies start flying. Kids are as afraid of Jason as they are of Freddy, and that’s more than Freddy can take, setting the stage for battle.
And therein lies the only real problem with the movie: we’ve now spent 2/3 of the runtime with the struggle of the victims, the back story on the whole Hypnocil thing, and even bizarre subplots that go nowhere, such as possible other murderers, a relationship between brothers that were attacked by Freddy, an escape from the mental hospital, and even a couple of stoners that are either meant to be parodies of Jay & Silent Bob or the Jarrett’s Room sketches on Saturday Night Live (possibly both – one acts like Jay while the other should have been played by Horatio Sanz). While some of the concepts are interesting and the acting is mostly a cut above standard slasher fare (including surprisingly good work from Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland and Jack Tripper’s offspring, Jason Ritter), you just don’t care about them. They’re sacrificial lambs, and they’re just in the way. They aren’t what you plunked down your eight bucks to see, you’re here for the hot monster-on-monster action.
Luckily, once that arrives, it’s worth the wait. The battles between Freddy and Jason are truly epic, everything a fan could hope for. And while I won’t give away the victor, I will say that the resolution is satisfying no matter which vicious killer you’re cheering for.
The best thing, though, is seeing the two icons together and their worlds merging. This is spot-on from the very opening of the film, the New Line logo comes up to a merging of the distinctive musical cues from both series. You see Elm Street and Camp Crystal Lake, revisit key elements of both series, and even get a few role reversals between Freddy and Jason. It’s everything you could hope for from combining the two venerable franchises, and if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids, it’d be perfect.
As it is, it’s still well worth a fan’s time and money to catch the movie. While they could have hacked about 15-20 minutes and a half-dozen characters out of it and had a stronger film, the combination works, making Freddy vs. Jason the best of both the waking and the sleeping worlds.