Friday, June 4, 2010

Freddy Vs Jason - 3.5/5

There is a brilliance to the rather simple and stupid concept of taking two of horror's most iconic villains and throwing them together in a battle royale. It's one of those things that you think to yourself, "How the hell could you make a good movie out of that?"...and essentially, that's the key. You don't. You make it as ridiculous and campy as either franchise would have allowed. As long as you keep the details right from both of the series, give it some sort of even manageable reason for the the collision, and voila! Bring on the blood!

Freddy's dead. Finally. He rests in hell where he belongs. No one is afraid of him on Elm street anymore and the fuel for him to kill in the children's dreams is empty. He has a plan though. He's found another supernatural slasher that also cannot die in Hell. This thing is Jason Vorhees. All it takes is a little mother coaxing to get him to start killing some kids on Elm street to start a little fear flowing. Now its up to some of the latest kids on Elm street to put an end to both of these menaces by pitting them against each other. Its not hard. Evil tends to not get along with itself.

I actually think that the basic premise of "Freddy Vs Jason" is damn effective. It uses the details and motives from both franchises in combination to bring our evil baddies together. Not all that clever, but its effective and it works for fans of both franchises. Of course, the story is rather predictable for the most part (its a slasher film...which are normally that way) as Freddy soon loses control over his brute killing force and our heroes find themselves using our slashers' territorial rage against one another. It's not rocket science but it works and for a fun and ridiculous film like this than its worthy enough.

So we've established that "Freddy Vs Jason" is fun and its got motive. Now what we need are details to flourish the broad strokes. Let's go through the slasher checklist: intense kills with lots of gore? Check. Lots of nudity. Check within the first minute. A few nice basic characters for our heroes and a slew of random side characters that will die in clever ways very quickly? Check. Now lets go through the franchise check lists. Slow moving and forboding Jason that kills with brutality? Check. Freddy uses fear to build solid one liners? Check. Is there the house on Elm Street? Check. Camp Crystal Lake? Check. There. Kind of looks like that "Freddy Vs Jason" hits all the points it needed. And does so with lots eagerness and solid visual flair (and nice moments of dark humor) courtesy of Ronny Yu who is showing promise in the Horror genre more and more.

Here's the kicker though. Is this film pleasing to fans of the franchises? You're damn right. Its the details here folks. Lots of references are made throughout the film to the previous entries whether its major plot points (going to get Hypnocil at the loony bin in direct reference to "Nightmare 3") or small details like the random goat in the dream sequence that obviously references the random sheep in the first "Nightmare" film. Even Jason gets in some moments like the dream sequence where we see Jason start to drown as a boy or even some basic ones like using his mother to coax him. Its these things that TRULY make this movie worth the watch.

Of course, its not all severed limbs and joy in the land of slashers even for "Freddy Vs Jason". It does suffer from a few moments that were a little too much for even this campy film. The idea that the kids were able to so quickly put everything together down in the basement sort of irks me (I guess brainstorming works very quickly) and Freddy's recap in the beginning sort of leaves out Jason's history too much. Its like New Line wanted to focus far more on Freddy's story for the film than equaling them out. Granted Freddy's story is far more substantial but it would have been nice to see a bit more here or there for Jason's sake.

Needless to say, "Freddy Vs Jason" is still the romp that it should have been. Its cheesy, ridiculous, and extremely violent and its worth every minute to fans of the franchises. It's not perfect but with how both franchises were going its a nice little spin off that insanely fun to watch over and over again.

BONUS RANT: (SPOILER) I'm not sure how we are supposed to feel about the final moment of the film right before credits where Jason walks out of the water and Freddy's head (in hand) winks at the camera. Its pretty redundent since we already assume its a draw since they "killed" one another just moments before. That and the film leaves the actually characters, our protagonists, out hanging. They leave the camp (with that sweet ass shot that combines the fire and water details of the franchises) and then just...I don't know. There's no falling action for them. We don't find out if her father is okay or whether Will is sent back to the wacko basket. Hell, its just left there like that. Now I know we didn't get a lot of back story to begin with but it would have been nice to tie it up a bit more instead of showing Jason rise from the lake. 

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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