Freddy vs. Jason - movie review (August 24, 2003)

Slasher films are usually not my thing, though I've seen some of the films in both the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises as well as all of the Halloween films save the third mis-named one and the most recent incarnation.  Part of me finds the films rather amusing because they're basically morality tales aimed at teenagers presented in a way that makes teenagers flock to see them.  Note that most of the teens who get killed are involved in pre-marital sex or other "bad" behaviours, and the survivor is usually the virginal one.

I had no interest in seeing "Jason X", and I wouldn't see another Nightmare on Elm Street film, but from the time I first heard the rumours about a film that would combine both main characters, I was intrigued.  It took many years from rumour to turn into reality, and when I saw the trailer for this film, I knew I had to go.  My favorite line from the trailer was a statement from one of the characters that when you're alive, Jason is going to try to kill you, and when you're dead, Freddy is going to try to kill you, so there's nowhere to hide.  What a great premise.  However, I still felt some trepidation as I'd never seen one of these types of films before on the big screen.  I'd seen all of them at home, on video, with the lights on in the house.  But, I was intrigued by how they'd present this face-off.  Were they actually going to try to come up with some kind of plausible explanation for how Freddy Krueger (who has domain over the dream world) and Jason Voorhees (who exists in the real world) could co-exist and meet?  Or were they just going to toss that out the window and just go for the fun?  Well, I'm happy to say they opted for the former and did a rather good job.

As the film opens, Freddy has been previously defeated but is on a quest to regain power and so, in a manner of speaking, enlists help by arranging for the resurrection of Jason.  It was rather interesting to see Jason wreaking havoc on Elm Street.  As the film progresses, Freddy continues to gain strength, but at some point, a struggle develops between Freddy and Jason as to who actually gets to kill the various people.  In essence, the predators fight over the prey.  Freddy decides that Jason has overstepped his purpose and decides to get rid of him, but Jason has other ideas.  The highlights of the film are the two major sequences where Freddy and Jason fight head on.  The first sequence occurs on the dream plane, and because Freddy has much more power there than does Jason, it was a bit more mis-matched.  The second sequence happens in the real world, so it was much more a clashing of titans, rather like watching two fully-trained Jedi fight.  And while the explanation for how Jason gets to the dream plane is a bit more muddled and sort of a reach, Freddy's appearance in the real world makes much more sense.

This is obviously not the kind of film that will appeal to everyone.  Slasher films are pretty much a niche market - you're either going to go or you're not.  You're not going to just happen to pick this film not knowing what it's about or what you're getting yourself into.  For a genre film, the makers of "Freddy vs. Jason" did a terrific job.  All the trappings and devices of the genre are used to great effect (yes, everyone has to be shot in close-up, not in long shot, and it helps if they're backing up slowly, not paying attention to what they're backing into, but no one in this film was carrying a flashlight though).  Yes, as expected, there is a ton of blood, and the body count is high.  I'm not one for gore (yes, but I went to see this movie anyway), so I probably only really saw about 30 minutes of this 97 minute film, as I looked away a lot, opting for just listening to the movie instead.  There is also quite a bit of humour in this film, arising mostly from Freddy's sardonic nature.

As expected in these types of films, there are a number of "it's not over yet" moments, and yes, the ending completely begs for a sequel.

Robert Englund is very good in the role most people have come to associate him with.  But I'll always see him as Willie from "V".

The film has done quite well at the box office, showing that the genre is alive and well.  We saw this film on its second weekend, on a Sunday afternoon, and by the time the film started, the theatre was almost completely full.  Given the amount of blood, violence, sex and nudity, people should be well aware before going to see this film, and I definitely think it's an inappropriate film for children, so I was a bit appalled at the 4-year-old with her family sitting behind us.

A definite recommend for people who like movies of this sort.



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