Friday, October 26, 2012

Freddy vs. Jason Movie Review

Like with Jason X, this one shouldn't even be included in this October series but for a sense of completion with bothNightmare and Friday. How could I not include it? I have it noted that I saw this in the theater, but I have no memory of that whatsoever. It was released in theaters a week before I left on a three month backpacking trip. I find it hard to believe it was still in theaters when I returned. And I doubt I would have rushed out to see it while I was preparing for such a big trip.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

I wonder how long after acquiring the rights to Friday the 13th it took New Line executives to start fantasizing a combination movie with A Nightmare on Elm Street. It took more than ten years to finally get Freddy vs. Jason into production and then released. Was it worth the wait? Does the end result provide those who were clamoring for the ultimate confrontation of 80s horror icons with a showdown worthy of the classic status of something like Godzilla vs. Mothra? I’m not so sure.

The fight scenes between Freddy and Jason are admittedly kind of fun. I experienced a certain glee in watching Freddy, in the midst of a Jason nightmare, toss his hockey-masked adversary around like a rag doll. I was almost able to ignore the stunningly illogical revelation that Jason is afraid of water. Hasn’t he killed someone in the water in each of the previous films?

Unfortunately, everything surrounding the two main confrontations is utter garbage, the kind of haphazardly written material designed simply to serve the premise for the film’s existence. It’s as if the producers provided a story that establishes a reason for Freddy and Jason to occupy the same universe only because convention demands it and not because they thought at any moment, “Hey, maybe we should give audiences a second reason to watch.” Freddy opens the film with a narration explaining that because everyone has forgotten him, he has no power to return. So he enlists Jason to go to Elm Street to start killing. When the people begin talking about a possible Freddy return, he can creep back into kids’ dreams. Seems like a reasonable enough premise, right? For a film of this caliber it is, but screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift took a break after that.

It’s not even worth getting into who the teenagers are and what they do. There are a couple of boys (Jason Ritter and Brendan Fletcher) who’ve been squirreled away in an institution, a kind of quarantine to prevent the spread of Freddy. They escape to warn the others. There’s the girlfriend (Monica Keena) of one of them who thinks he moved away without a word of communication. There’s a stoner, a nerd, and the cool girl (Kelly Rowland) and the jock guy. Their days are all numbered. The acting talent on display is a bit of a joke. One young actor tries to channel Nicolas Cage by angrily shouting one word of each sentence. Thankfully he doesn’t make it far. Even Robert Englund as Freddy is on auto pilot. There’s no relish or intimidation in his line readings. Maybe that’s because Shannon and Swift weren’t creative enough to give him anything to call his victims other than “bitch,” which he utters nine or ten times.

Director Ronny Yu mostly just amps up the blood and violence in the shameless hope that no one will notice the lazy shortcuts and logical inconsistencies of the screenplay that has characters piecing together the plot out of thin air. It goes something like this: Jason’s killing teens in town; Freddy has been away, but now he’s back; He’s unable to kill us in our dreams; Therefore he must have summoned Jason to make us remember until he’s strong enough. It’s as if the characters have special access to the thoughts of the screenwriters.

This represents a real nadir not just for the two series involved, neither of which has seen another sequel since, but for horror movies in general. There is nothing scary and no attempt to make it so. It is pure grotesquery and violence with no redeeming value even as far as adolescent enjoyment of something so simple and base.

Deaths (with my rating out of 10)
I have only included kills made by Jason to maintain consistency with the previous ten reviews of the Friday the 13th series.

Total deaths:  20 (2 off screen)
Average rating: 3.25/10
Highest rating: 8

Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the creativity involved and how graphic it is.

1.       A girl in Jason’s dream gets a machete through her stomach, hoists her up and pins her to a tree (5).
2.       Trey, while lying in bed on his stomach gets a machete multiple times to his back. Then Jason folds the bed in half, bending Trey in half backwards with it (8).
3.       Blake’s Dad is decapitated off screen, but we see his head pop off when Blake awakens next to him (2).
4.       Blake is slashed with a machete. We only see blood splatter across the window (3).
5.       The glow light dude is stabbed through the back with a metal pole. We see him hoisted into the air and thrown overhead. This is quite similar to Darren’s death in Fridaythe 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (4).
6.       Gibb is pierced by the same pole that went through the glow light dude (2).
7.       A dude has his head quickly twisted 180 degrees around (5).
8.       The fat guy gets a flaming machete thrown through his back as he runs away (6).
9.       Guy at rave slashed with machete (1).
10.   Ditto (1).
11.   Ditto (1).
12.   Ditto (1).
13.   Ditto (1).
14.   Ditto (1).
15.   Security guard is crushed by a steel door off screen (2).
16.   Police deputy electrocuted and smashed into control panel (1).
17.   Freeburg is sliced completely in half through his waistline by a machete (7).
18.   Linderman is thrown against a shelf bracket sticking out of the wall and then bleeds to death (2).
19.   Kia is totally whacked by a machete, flies long distance through the air and hits a tree (6).
20.   Freddy has a multitude of injuries laid upon him and is finally decapitated by a machete (6).

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