For 20 years, the dream movie of any horror fan was a movie that would feature the two heavyweights of the 80's going at it, Freddy and Jason. People had been trying to get some form of the movie to get off the ground since the mid-80's. The idea itself doesn't hold a ton of substantive narrative, but we all knew it would just be insanely cool to see the two characters going at it in a bloodbath. There's probably an astronomical number of people who had written scripts, drafts, ideas, and a lot of them have since been posted on the internet. Some range from brilliant to what-were-they-smoking? After all the years and talk, and back and forth, the idea finally became a real, concrete motion picture. So was it worth the hype and anticipation? In some ways, yes. But that's an awful lot of hype to be able to meet. After all, "Chinese Democracy" is the only thing that has ever met that kind of hype, personally speaking.
As the film was coming together, it was a weird kind of almagamation of chess pieces. The director was decided to be Ronny Yu, who had recently kind of revived the "Child's Play" franchise with "Bride of Chucky". He was seen as somewhat of an odd choice, as that was his only genre credit, the bulk of his career being Asian action films. Okay. I'm all for a new perspective coming in and trying to inject something different. Plus, his action film experience would probably come in handy during the inevitable fight between the two. Then the heart-crushing news that Kane Hodder was being replaced, and Jason would be played by another stuntman. Now, a lot of people would think "who cares who is playing Jason? big deal, he's a guy in a mask." But not so. For fans of the series, each Jason performance was different. Each actor brought a unique performance to the character. The subtle movements, the walk, the stare. And most fans will wholeheartedly agree that Kane Hodder pretty much owned the Jason character. Having played him in a few consecutive movies, he was the only actor to play him twice, and he took ownership of the role. He had become almost as synonymous with the Jason role as Robert Englund was Freddy. I remember for years online, people were making fanmade posters and whatnot, and the headline of the poster was always "Englund Vs. Hodder". Yu's reasoning was he wanted someone with different eyes, or something kind of minute like that. The Jason in the movie isn't bad by any means, but the emotional attachment that fans had to Hodder in the role was something that would've helped the film.
One of the big mysteries to me was how they were going to bring the two worlds together. Like I said, some people had come up with brilliant ideas that included past characters from each series, intertwining past plot points, etc. What we got was actually pretty decent, if not a little dumbed down. The movie began with a very classic Friday the 13th setup with Jason seeing his mother, of course telling him to go to Elm Street to make those evil kids pay. Naturally, this is Freddy inside a sleeping (?) Jason's head. Lots of fun has been made at this plot device as Camp Crystal Lake is in New Jersey, Springwood is in Illinois, yet Jason makes the trek fairly quickly and easily. Maybe he used those underground tunnels that they eloquently showed in that terrible remake. Of course, these movies have never pretended to be logical, so ultimately, who cares? Freddy's motive here is what I think is somehow both pretty smart, but pretty dumb at the same time. His theory is that when Jason starts killing the kids on Elm Street, everyone will start to think it's Freddy doing it, who has since ceased existence after people forgot about him.
There's a subplot involving the drug Hynocil, which causes people to not dream (where can I buy this???), and this is seemingly how people have forgotten about Freddy all these years. But the movie does have some borderline great things to it's credit. There are scenes that are very distinct to each franchise. For instance, in the scenes where you're in a dream with Freddy, you know it, just by the vibe and lighting and ambiance. Same with Jason scenes. There's a really cool, epic set piece that's a slaughter in a cornfield that features cool gore and some great scenerey. And the epic conclusion, the battle between our two monsters, actually lives up to the hype. It's fast paced, coreographed immaculately, lots of big stunts and blood and everything you'd expect. It's undoubtedly the best thing about the movie, and ultiamately, it's what we all wanted to see. In hindsight, there's really nothing I would change about the battle itself. Now, there are a few glaring things that I absolutely do not like about this movie. I do not like the casting, at all. AT ALL. There's not really one character or actor that I care for in any way. It was the most generic group of teens, and I think they thought they were being cool and hip in their casting, with the likes of Kelly Rowland from Destiny's Child and the like. Compared to the rich history of characters they could have brought back from previous movies, I was sorely disappointed in the casting. Also, in some ways, they made Freddy look kind of weak. He has very, very few actual kills in this movie. Part of the plot is that Jason is "beating" Freddy to the kills, I get that, but I wanted to see more original and creative kills from Freddy. Also, the whole plot device that Jason is deathly afraid of water is dumb. Yes, they had to have some way of showing that Jason had some vulnerability, but it's all way too obviously a simple plot device to get from point A to point B. A character literally says, "Jason is scared of water. How can we use this against him?" Take him back to Crytal Lake, apparently. In doing so, they paint Jason as the lesser of the two evils, and almost even as a hero in a way, which I think was a mistake. They should have just kept him as a vicious, relentless killer.
The actual ending of the film, I enjoyed. It's somewhat open to interpretation, as to who "wins". Aside from just the basic storylines, there were even more endings that people had come up with. One idea the studio flirted with was filming two different endings, one where Freddy wins, one where Jason wins, and then they are randomly attached to different prints of the film. My all-time favorite ending was one a writer had come up with were Freddy and Jason were both sent to Hell, and Pinhead would show up to basically emcee their eternal battle. I just think something like that would've been classic. But I'm content with what we got. Overall, it's a very decent-to-good movie, with peaks and valleys, with some glimpses of greatness, but some ideas that are pretty dumb. I would loved to have seen more integration of the mythologies of both series, but I suspect the mainstream audience wouldn't have been all that jazzed about seeing Tommy Jarvis or Nancy coming back. The thing that punches me in the gut is almost my own undoing in that the film could NEVER have lived up to the hype for true fans. In a perfect world, the film would have been a marriage of the two franchises in a way that pleased both hardcore and mainstream audiences, and paid respect to the legacies of them. Instead, we got a very modern, but competent horror film that was GOOD (but not great). Now I just got to get my idea for a Pinhead Vs. Michael Myers made into a movie...
"Freddy Vs. Jason" gets 7 doses of Hypnocil out of 10
Below is the original trailer: