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Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

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Score: 6/10

Genre: Slasher Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Release Date: August 15th, 2003 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Ronny Yu Actors: Robert Englund, Ken Kirzinger, Monica Keena, Jason Ritter, Kelly Rowland, Christopher George Marquette, Brendan Fletcher, Katharine Isabelle, Lochlyn Munro, Odessa Munroe

“I

t was the children who gave me my power.” The film starts with a recap of the previous seven Freddy Krueger films, as well as a very loose premise to bring Jason Voorhees (from his own long-lived series) into the fray – from the bowels of hell. Freddy’s legendary reign of terror as the Springwood Slasher came to an end (multiple times), while Jason also met an untimely demise on more than one occasion (throughout the “Friday the 13th” features). But that doesn’t stop the two of them from reappearing in the same earthly realm, where a bevy of teens can engage in various activities that make them just that much more attractive for the vicious machete and finger-blades of the antagonists.

A gathering at Lori’s (Monica Keena) house, which just so happens to be located on Elm Street, is the first stop for Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), who immediately butchers a young man (Jesse Hutch) with his signature edged weapon. When the incredibly convenient arrival of Deputy Stubbs (Lochlyn Munro) finds the surviving youths (including Blake [David Kopp], Gibb [Katharine Isabelle], Charlie [Chris Marquette], and Kia [Kelly Rowland]) under police investigation (but not protection), the local law enforcement proves only to be concerned with hushing up about the notoriety of the child murderer who used to torment the residents of that address. Meanwhile, in a psychiatric hospital, Will (Jason Ritter) and Mark (Brendan Fletcher) manage to escape, hoping to reunite with Lori to help her in her new plight – of avoiding both Jason and Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund).

“Anything is possible!” Jason hasn’t evolved too much in this latest chapter, resorting quite quickly to hacking and chopping up his victims, sometimes with hilarious relish and always with a lack of realism. The film also has a shapely woman skinny-dipping in the lake within the first few minutes, solely to show some nudity, which is not only expected but also well within the boundaries of the graphic, visceral nature of these two franchises. And there’s plenty of gruesome violence, occurring in just about every other scene, to round things out.

“That goalie was pissed about something.” But even with the bloodshed, the sexuality, and the boo moments, there’s still plenty of unamusing stupidity going on (as well as an overuse of CGI). All the sleuthing is done not by cops but by surprisingly resourceful teens (who all look like they’re much too old to still be in school), and attending a rave right after the slaughtering of friends seems to be the standard remedy for grief. Wandering around alone in the dark and the rain (or being exceptionally brave in the face of danger) is the prescription for excitement, while human corruption is still more devastating than the likes of the serial killers. And taking a time-out to smoke a joint is always a priority over sticking with the group.

At least there’s a climactic showdown between the two horror movie icons (complete with reenacted sequences at both Camp Crystal Lake and the boiler room, as well as familiar music cues, one-liners, and Jason’s unreasonably slow gait) – and a bit of a competition as to who can carve up the most screaming teens. The actual final battle (like a hyper-stylized, exceptionally exaggerated face-off between Frankenstein’s monster and Dracula – or the Mummy or the Wolf Man) is laugh-out-loud funny in its gory extremeness. It’s been quite some time for either of these franchises, but this chaotic mashup has once again figured out an entertaining balance between violence and humor.

– Mike Massie

 

 



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