And because “versus” movies tend to feature two separate continuities, the screenplay writers involved also have to pack in a lot of supporting material, and make certain that each monster or participant is given a moment of glory.
I feel that it shines in comparison to AVPR, and that it possesses some qualities that make it worthwhile, notably the imagination of the flashback sequences, and Lance Henriksen’s very human performance.
Also, Jason Mewes should probably sue the makers of the film for appropriating without permission his silver screen persona in a few key scenes.
An unexpected side-effect of these monster-on-monster smack-downs, then, seems to be that terror dissipates, and two franchises are actually compromised rather than improved.
Funny how that is almost never the real-world result...
But Freddy vs. Jason doesn’t express any sort of joy in Freddy’s return. We get lame one liners and all, but there's a sense that the filmmakers don't really love or fully understand the appeal of the material.
Freddy vs. Jason ends, finally, with no real winners.
Lori’s old boyfriend, Will (Jason Ritter) joins them, after escaping Westin Hills Sanitarium, to help bury Freddy and Jason permanently.
The film commences with the words of the most unreliable of all narrators, Freddy Krueger, and in broad but effective strokes, re-tells the origin stories of Freddy and Jason. The film squeezes a lot of information into this colorful montage, and it works surprisingly well. It’s an interesting device to have Freddy talking to us directly, telling us his (warped) side of his own story, and it opens the film on a high note. It feels like a fresh take.
I will readily admit that the Elm Street sequels are of variable quality, but they are -- oddly -- enlivened by pro-social portrayals of insightful and courageous young women. Alice, the Dream Master, fights Freddy, it's true, but also goes through the process of self-actualization. Nancy Thompson, similarly, gets cast as horror's Prince of Denmark (or Princess), Hamlet, tasked with going through the lies of her morally questionable parents.
These characters had weight and individuality, and made the films more than mere "dead teenager" movies.
I would be hard-pressed to find teens less interesting than those featured in Freddy vs. Jason.
Because we know that persona from the New Jersey Cycle (six films and counting), we would at least register him as an authentic human being and not a cipher. Instead, I can't ever see Freddy vs. Jason's stoner as a human being or person, just as a rip-off, a derivative clone. I'm taken out of the movie's narrative every time I look at him in his stolen clothes.
And, let's face it, love or hate the Mewes persona, the actor would have added a clear sense of fun to the proceedings. Imagine watching Mewes go up against Jason. It's impossible not to smile at the thought.
But Freddy winks at the camera, just so we don’t draw too strong a conclusion about the victor.
Jason seems compelled to maim and murder, but it feels instinctual…like it is part of his wiring.
Freddy, by contrast, relishes in his badness. He intellectualizes it, seeks out ways to increase his range, and manipulates others.
So Jason is the shark in Jaws, and Freddy is Hannibal Lecter. Fact to face, I judge Freddy the more evil of these two monsters, and almost (at least in this film...) can’t blame Jason for what he does. The sympathetic flashbacks make it clear that his vengeance is righteous, or at least justified.
Again, this comparison would not exist if we didn’t have the monsters sharing the same story.
I know the filmmakers want each monster to have “Kryptonite,” the thing/element that stops him. Freddy’s kryptonite is fire, and I get that. He died in fire. But now, suddenly, Jason is afraid of water? I know he drowned in Crystal Lake in 1980, but many previous films have revealed him emerging from the lake, or attacking skinny dippers in the water (Part VII is one example of the latter). But now he can’t even approach water without paralyzing terror?
That just doesn’t pass the smell test.
But it is bloody enough.
And I should note, I’ve watched Freddy vs. Jason probably five times over the years, always thinking that on the next re-visit I’ll see something new or change my mind about its overall quality.
Yep, it’s time to put this bad dog to sleep for good.