Revisiting the Reviled: Freddy vs. Jason: Dawn of Justice

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As we’ve seen before with Alien vs. Predator, a long anticipated crossover doesn’t always lead to success. In 2003, a decade after it was first teased at the end of Jason Goes to Hell, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees finally matched up in the imaginatively titled Freddy vs. Jason. Coming nearly two decades after each character was introduced, Freddy vs. Jason could also be called Nightmare on Elm Street 8 vs. Friday the 13th 11. By the time these two icons of horror finally collided, they were well past the point of relevance. While the film was a modest box office success, it’s all but impossible to find people willing to go out of their way to defend Freddy vs. Jason.

Reasonably placing these two characters in the same film is a task that this film just can’t accomplish, nor does it just roll with an absurd and outlandish premise, it takes itself really seriously. Trapped in Hell, long forgotten and unfeared, fitting since it was nearly a decade since he last appeared on screen, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) languishes. Able to invade the dreams of Jason Voorhees (Ken Kinzinger), Freddy resurrects the killing machine and sets him on his path to Elm Street. Living on Elm St. is Lori Campbell (Monica Keena), who is having a party with her friends over. At the party Jason kills one of the boys, and another is haunted by nightmares of Freddy. At the same time, Lori’s ex-boyfriend, Will (Jason Ritter), and his friend, Mark (Brendan Fletcher), are the last to have encountered Freddy and are institutionalized. Will and Mark escape the institution after learning of the grisly murders, and team up with Lori to battle Freddy and Jason.

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“Am I high or do these effects suck?”

I simplified the explanation of the film’s plot, as side effects include dizziness, vomiting, and brain hemorrhaging. Anyways, none of the human characters in this film have any real qualities, all are clichés without any attempt to subvert their familiar nature. It is all but impossible to remember anything about the numerous characters that are killed, including their names. The only character that I remotely recall (I’m writing this only an hour after watching it) is the stoner character obviously molded after Jason Mewes. That isn’t a coincidence, as most of the film has this mid-‘90s feel to it. For example, Jason Voorhees murders some date rapist raver covered in glow sticks. More than anything, this is a movie that wants to exist in 1995, in a world before Scream. It employs every cliché that Scream subverted without any intent of wit or humor.

Hong Kong director Ronny Yu, having already made a moderately successful horror sequel in The Bride of Chucky, can never find any consistency with his lens. The film did go through a number of reshoots, however, the number of shots that don’t match in sequence is embarrassing. In one moment the film can shift from having an interesting composition to having the general look of an insurance ad. Granted, the script credited to Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who’d later write the Friday the 13th remake, is awful, but it doesn’t excuse Yu from having such a visually inconsistent, often ugly look.

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Drink Miller. It’s Killer.

Most, if not all, of the film’s sins would be forgiven had the titular fight lived up to the decade plus of anticipation. Instead, Freddy and Jason battle each other in mostly a hand-to-hand manner. Two supernatural killing machines battle each other out in an over-glorified street fight. Like the film’s aesthetic, the movements of the characters don’t match from shot to shot, and the lack of any defined stakes leaves the battle more like a poorly shot fan film than a multi-million dollar production.

Not counting this film or remakes, there are a combined 17 movies worth of material to draw upon for this work. For some reason, the creative team behind Freddy vs. Jason chose to place this battle in the midst of a convoluted slasher flick with numerous subplots of little import. Bad writing, bad acting, and bad direction culminate in a work that only exists as a cynical cash-in, which explains the lack of sequels even though the film was profitable. Devoid of suspense and horror, Freddy vs. Jason is just a bad action flick.

 

 

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