I guess I should start this review with a confession. It’s not I want to make, it’s one I hope few read, because, well, what self-respecting film critic (or human being in general) wants people to know this. Okay. Time to get to the point. I’ve…I’ve seen all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. And all of the Friday 13th ones too. I was young, innocent (at least at the beginning), and thought it might be fun. Though it rarely was. There I’ve said it. Now I’m off to bury my head in shame. And the rest of my body too, just for good measure.
To be fair a few of them were quite entertaining. The first outing in both series provided some cheap scares and minor chuckles, and the second Friday The Thirteenth and the third Nightmare On Elm Street films are worth a watch, even if they have aged a fair deal over the years and occasionally look a bit ridiculous when compared to modern horror. But they do have a certain charm, and Robert Englund is a strong performer in all of the Elm Street films.
When comparing this to all of films in both series it’s pretty damn impressive, and in my view the best outing for either character. Director Ronnie Yu has made a very eighties style slasher pic, but managed to avoid making it seem tired and clichéd. He eschews Scream-esque post modern irony and plays by the rules of the genre 99% of the time – there’s a naked girl who gets murdered within the first five minutes, the virgin’s the hero of the story, and the black character doesn’t survive – which might disappoint some quite understandably, but it’s good value when it comes to lovely old fashioned over the top gore, and dear lord, there’s a hell of a lot of it here.
For a horror flick it’s rather clever too, managing to insert both character’s mythologies in to the plot line so it actually makes sense why Freddy and Jason are in the same movie. The dialogue’s snappy, with Freddy getting most of the good lines as per usual (in fact Jason gets none at all, though that’s nothing new), and the kids are remarkably feisty and don’t die lying down ( bar one character whose demise is extremely funny). Without going in to too much detail the plot revolves around Freddy bringing back Jason from the semi-dead, sending him to Elm Street as he’s been forgotten and needs to freshen up people’s memories so that he can grow strong and kill again. And thus blood, limbs and various other body parts are joyously dispatched over the next 95 or so minutes.
Those expecting to be scared may be a tad disappointed as Freddy vs. Jason is firmly in the ‘horror comedy’ genre, and unlike, say, the truly terrifying The Texas Chainsaw Massacre this isn’t about making the audience defecate themselves, the emphasis is on making them laugh instead whilst blood pours down the screen. So rather than realistic deaths most of the time each killing is more and more ridiculous than the last, though all are pleasingly inventive. And for me that only serves in making the film all the more enjoyable.
Performance wise this is Robert Englund’s movie, playing Freddy as a truly demonic bastard, and he clearly loves chewing the scenery. But Ken Kirzinger makes for a great Jason and the kids / victims also perform well, though the fact that they are supposed to be fourteen even where it’s rather clear that the actors are in there late teens / early twenties, and considering we see one of them naked, means it’s a somewhat odd decision to have made them supposedly young. But especially good is lead heroine Lori Campbell (Monica Keen) who performs the transformation from scared shitless school girl to super heroine with a massive attitude rather convincingly, and Kelly Rowland (of Destiny’s Child fame) shows she can act rather well even if her character is slightly annoying some of the time.
This is a fast, fun and incredibly gory horror flick, which will satisfy the needs of the genre fans and the general public, and though it will never be anyone’s favourite horror it certainly deserves to be seen, even if you’ve never watched a Jason or Freddy film before.