Saturday, April 16, 2016

Freddy vs. Jason

   As a complete freak for 80's horror cinema, a couple of my good friends were baffled that I'd never seen Freddy vs. Jason before. So, obviously it was the go-to party flick of the night. Boobs, beer, blood, and blades. After now having seen this movie, I can safely say that having both Freddy and Jason as guest characters in the Mortal Kombat games was fairly inevitable.  Freddy vs. Jason has the two eponymous horror icons quite literally breaking out the kung-fu. It seems I was just late to this particular party. You couldn't get away with this shit anymore. (Sadly?) Whenever the two bladed cinematic baddies went at each other, I half expected the quasi-techno beat to slowly evolve into something like this. And, that's Freddy vs. Jason in a nutshell.

   I don't think anyone making this movie intended it to be taken totally seriously. It was quite the cheeseball flick, and I think everyone involved knew it was going to be anyways. At the very least, it looks like Robert Englund is having a blast playing Freddy again, but who knows what's going on behind Jason's mask. I think Freddy vs. Jason actually stayed truer to it's parent franchises than AVP was to it's own. The 00's were lousy with "vs." flicks, and aside from FVJ, AVP was the other big ticket headliner. Unfortunately, AVP impressed precisely nobody and the people who do like it (myself included) have to defend and explain our opinion of it. Which is usually chalked up to: guilty pleasure.

   I think FVJ is a better movie because it's actually not the worst cinematic outing for either of it's title characters, and it's also unabashedly fun. Not to mention it's story is pretty decent too. I was surprised at how neat some it's concepts were. This is the truly weird thing about Freddy vs. Jason. The story and the plot are actually well thought out. It's inclusive of details from previous films that your casual fan might not have even picked up. I was fortunate enough to watch it in well versed company- friends who were pointing out this stuff left and right. Stuff I would've have caught on my own.

   The movie still lacks any genuine scares or tension, and seems at time to be playing it's various kill scenes for knowing laughs and fan-ribbing. The movie gets surprisingly creative with it's death and destruction, but much like AVP, it left all it's genuine scariness by the wayside. So while FVJ is the overall better movie, both flicks suffer from abandoning the creepiness and grittiness of their predecessors. FVJ boils down to a series of face-offs which feel less like two paragons of horror trying to kill each other, and more like a kid smashing his two favorite action figures together.

   This was never more clearly highlighted than when Freddy sends Jason smashing into a series of pipes... and he bounces off of all of them with Looney Tunes elasticity, all while pinball machine sound effects are booming. After stuff like this it's not so hard to see why horror movies took an ├╝ber-serious, and often dry, approach to things in the following years. Like any one of the bad sequels from either parent franchise, this movie took it's concept of 'fun' and got a little too silly with it. Sure, it's fine when blood is spraying, and teenagers are screaming- that's when things feel familiar, but that's also not usually when Freddy and Jason are fighting- which is supposed to be the main draw of the movie.

   Of course, that's not to say that even the techno-fueled, excessively choreographed, fight scenes weren't entertaining, the whole movie was. It's just also a lot of wasted potential. You can see glimpses of horror movie greatness in here. One scene in particular where Freddy has his latest victim cornered in her dream... and right before he can get to her, she dies in real life at the hands of Jason. If the movie had exploited that tone, and featured more bits like that, it would've been better. But as if anyone needed me to tell them this now, after all these years, Freddy vs. Jason is only a movie that is only ever filed under 'horror' out of some unspoken obligation to the rest of the movies.

   It's far from a horror movie, even though it's frequently knee deep in blood and guts- it simply makes no attempt to be scary. It's a wrestling match, an exhibition fight.  You could sell tickets to this shit and put their name in lights. This is pure spectacle, not pure horror. For what it is though- a terribly dated and over-the-top, fight-fest, featuring copious amounts of boobs, blades, and blood... it's fine. It's a beer n' pizza more. Nothing more, nothing less. Enjoy it as such, or move on. I found it to be massively entertaining. Nevertheless, for curious fans, tempered expectations and an understanding mindset (not to mention beer) go a long way towards enjoying and liking this movie.

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