Wow, time really flies. Freddy Vs. Jason just turned the big 1-5. It’s been 15 years since one of the most prolific horror franchise crossovers ever, sans Alien Vs Predator (no, not you Requiem), was released. Though the film had a tumultuous path to creation – from rights issues, to Wes Craven and Sean S. Cunningham trying to make the film at separate times – the wait was finally over.
The film received fairly mixed reviews with an Rotten Tomatoes score of 41% and an IMDb score of 4.8/10 – though its critical accolade lies within the fairly ludicrous CinemaScore which sits high at a B+ (just barely beating The Emoji Movie, which somehow scored a B). Now, 15 years later, the big question is does this film hold up over the years? Let’s take a look.
While this film doesn’t boast the greatest cast, the acting isn’t as bad as some other ’03 releases (we’re looking at you House of the Dead). The cast is composed of Monica Keena (The Devil’s Advocate), Jason Ritter (Happy Endings), the wonderfully philanthropic member of Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland, Lochlyn Munro (Scary Movie), and the enigmatic Paula Shaw. (We’ll cover the main players later). The acting in this film is akin to Dawson’s Creek, which isn’t a detriment to the film, but adds a wonderfully genuine teen aspect to the acting. Keena brings the most solid performance out of everyone, which is helped by her ability to actually produce TEARS, something that a lot of horror actors fail at.
Freddy Vs. Jason is directed by Ronny Yu, who is most known for directing Chinese action films. His first foray into English horror films was with the questionably fun Bride of Chucky (1998), followed by FVJ. Yu is not considered an auteur as his (English) films have no similar styles throughout, but Yu does know how to make very exciting films, and on that front his directing in this film, overall, works to benefit the film.
Freddy Vs. Jason
Of course we have Robert Englund as Freddy, I mean his Freddy is no Jackie Earle Haley (KIDDING, TOTALLY KIDDING), who is equipped with his wonderful stash of one-liners and rapey vibes. The casting of Jason Voorhees wasn’t as easy though. New Line Cinema thought that for this fresh new film, it should also be accompanied by a fresh new Jason – which Cunningham wholeheartedly disagreed with. He thought that the role should stay with Kane Hodder. The studio ultimately decided the role should go to stuntman Ken Kirzinger. Kirzinger was no stranger to the Jason character, as he had done Jason’s stunts in Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, so he had already been in the muck-filled boots of Jason. Overall Kirzinger did not do a terrible job, he was able to fill Yu’s dream of a slower and more precise Jason, as opposed to Hodder’s hardcore Jason.
The onscreen chemistry between Englund and Kirzinger was very palpable, as their character arcs went from two antagonists trying to accomplish a similar goal, killing a bunch of people, to two very intense for-the-books showdowns. Through the first showdown between the two killers it becomes quite clear that Freddy is the antagonist (what do you call the antagonist of the antagonist?), and it’s pretty messed up actually! Freddy resurrects Jason to help spread fear into the kids of Springwood and then gets pissed when Jason is doing that task a little too well. How else could Jason scare the kids without killing a few? The leads up to the first of two fights where Jason is sedated and welcomed to Freddy’s nightmare. The ensuing 7-minute scene mainly consists of Freddy psychologically torturing Jason, and then shoving his finger into Jason’s brain AFTER Jason turns back into a child. It’s the most disturbing scene in the entire film. Enjoy:
While Jason’s nightmare scene is the most disturbing, the rave scene is arguably the funnest. It’s just a bunch of high school kids partying it up in pre-Trump America in a cornfield, cause that’s where you want to go to party, right? The most righteous kill in the film takes place during the rave, when Gibb, played by American Mary herself Katharine Isabelle, passes out. She is fresh off the heels of losing her (dickhead) boyfriend, so naturally she wants to get blackout drunk and forget that it all happened. After she passes out, some asshole, who’s covered in glowsticks, makes his way over to her and tries to assault her. Jason impales them (unfortunately he gets Gibb as well), which provides the major turning point in the film when Jason steals Freddy’s kill. There is also a wonderful kill where Jason fires his flaming machete directly into Chris Gauthier, which is just pure cinema magic.
The first onscreen (and not in Jason’s dream) kill of the film is excellent, and takes us back to the root of why slasher films even existed – which is to punish the sinners. Gibb and her terrible boyfriend have just finished fornicating ..with the door open for some reason. Gibb decides to take a shower because her boyfriend hates being touched after sex (intimacy issues much?). While she is in the shower, Jason goes to town on his back with the machete, and finishes the job by folding the bed in half, turning him into a human hamburger. It’s fairly graphic, and TOTALLY satisfying. Yum.
The other notable kill is from Bill Freeburg (Labine). The crew goes to the mental institution so they can get some drugs that, pretty much, erase your dreams (sign me up). While they’re there Freeburg decides it is time to smoke up, cause that’s definitely the best time to smoke. Freeburg hallucinates a caterpillar Freddy, who smokes him up with some pretty dank weed. This leads to Freeburg having a very disturbing dream. He fills some syringes with tranquilizers and hits Jason with them, just before Jason HACKS his body in half–which is a wonderful practical effect.
The other kills in the film are still pretty good, but most of them feel rushed and executed (pun intended) poorly.
Freddy Vs Jason is not one of the best horror films ever, by far. But what it is, is an incredibly fun film that pits two of the worlds most iconic horror slashers together in a no-holds-barred match to see which one comes out on top. At the end of the day it is the audience that comes out on top as we are given a few wonderfully shot practical effect deaths, some fun dialogue, and a film that we can add to either our Freddy marathon or our Jason marathon! Does the film hold up? Not really. A good amount of the CGI looks rough, and disingenuous, but hey it was early 2000’s so we can’t complain that much. With all that said, Happy Birthday Freddy Vs Jason thank you for being a bloody fun film!
Tell us your favorite moments in Freddy vs. Jason in the comments below, or over in our FIEND CLUB Facebook Group!