Though it’s been tailor-made for fans of the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, New Line’s quickie death match Freddy vs. Jason still wastes considerable time on needless back story. It’s eons before Wes Craven’s razor-fingered dream master and Crystal Lake’s psycho killer go at it. Until then, an obviously bored Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund)—still entirely too amused by his witty repartee—gets to repeatedly and lazily justify the titular match-up. After mama’s boy Jason Voorhees is summoned to Elm Street for more random acts of violence directed at lascivious teens, Freddy will have mustered enough strength to penetrate the dreams of his victims. More clever than your average Friday the 13th but certainly not as meta as any Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy vs. Jason basically comes down to just another teen horror movie. What with the endless references to memory and the past, the film plays out as a regressive fantasy of sorts—the local police station tries to hide evidence that links Freddy to a series of new crimes while unsuspecting teens struggle not to remember the child killer’s name. Director Ronny Yu doesn’t quite care for the dialectic food chain that links the film’s real world with Freddy’s Jungian fantasyland (the film is nowhere near as witty or trashy as Yu’s Bride of Chucky), merely contenting himself with sustaining the film’s required nostalgia kick and filling his frame with self-amused ganja smokers. Freddy pulls out the one-liners one after another but it’s not long before the film begins to drown in its own cheekiness. Indeed, it’s a sad day for Nightmare on Elm Street fans when a member of Destiny’s Child steals the show. As the self-loathing Kia, Kelly Rowland smiles inopportunely, references Columbine, and gets to give a comatose Jason mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The film’s teens are remarkable problem solvers and they discover a way to have Freddy and Jason meet in the flesh in order to save their own asses. Sadists should enjoy the film’s requisite death match but I can’t imagine anyone’s interest in either ghoul being so significant that the filmmakers are so hesitant to ever declare a winner. One last wink is merely indicative of the laziness of this tolerable but instantly forgotten dud. “No one is ever going to live up to the memory of your first love,” says Kia at one point. The same, of course, applies to the film.
- Ronny Yu
- Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
- Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, James Callahan, Ken Kirzinger, Lochlyn Munro, Joshua Mihal
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