Before we get started, a quick note for die-hard fans of the two franchises. Take the score to your right, and add 4. I've always enjoyed both 'Friday the 13th' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street', and the score reflects that somewhat. Believe me, a stand alone movie of this calibre would not have crossed the five-point-oh. In references to past installments, we'll pretend that the shockingly abysmal 'Jason X' was never made.
That being said, the premise of this movie is pretty clear. Franchise devotees have been waiting for just such a movie for years, and it's taken New Line Cinema a decade to finally get all legal issues worked out. The end result may not be pretty to look at, but fans of the series ain't looking for pretty.
Well, back in Springwood, things have quieted down lately. You see, everyone forgot about Freddy, so he stopped having any power. Through a municipal conspiracy, records have been glossed over, and anyone who remembers Freddy has been committed to a psychiatric institution. Freddy, as you may imagine, is less than pleased with this recent turn of events. In a stroke of questionable genius, he wakes Jason Voorhees and recruits him to massacre a series of thirty-something teenagers. Coupled with Jason's physical presence, Freddy manages to return to the dreams of 'children', and begin his reign of terror anew. Surprisingly, Jason seems reluctant to stop killing, stealing Freddy's thunder and priming the stage for a (hopefully) epic showdown.
The movie puts a lot of stock into it's storyline, and spends a lot of time fleshing it out. It's just a pity it's a weak storyline, and a weaker job of job of explaining it. We're informed how Jason was teased as a child as well as the manner of his death. While it explains his aversion to any type of hygeine, it doesn't begin to explain how he turned into an immortal killer.
'Freddy vs. Jason' starts in grand style, paying homage to it's collective roots with a nude midnight skinny dipping scene. For the most part, it lives up to the slasher genre its' predecessors virtually defined. Something intangible is lacking though. Maybe it's because so many years have passed, and the fans who grew up with the originals have changed, but there's a definite dearth of intensity during the movie. It doesn't evoke fear, so much as a feeling of expectation for these two titans to duel it out. It's a good thing it evokes something, because there's precious little else in the movie to hold on to.
As for acting, it's everything you'd want from a movie of this kind. There's plenty of screaming (even one of the guys has an ear-piercing shriek... funny surprise the first time). Kelly Rowland manages to be completely devoid of believable emotion. She should really just resign herself to Beyoncè's shadow, and enjoy the shade. Freddy and Jason live up to the legends of their characters quite nicely, and Ken Kirzinger imbues Jason with a sense of hulking menace.
The film in general has all the makings of a great movie. Two succesful franchises, two ridiculously infamous characters duking it out - seems like a recipe for a cinematic juggernaut. And to be fair, that's what die-hard fans of the classic genre will see it as. It's all here, copious amounts of spurting blood (apparently everyone has chronically high blood pressure), some horror nudity, screaming, hacking, slashing, horrible one-liners... you name it, the whole family's here for the reunion.
However, for everyone who doesn't go to sleep without preparing to fight Freddy in a maniacally twisted world of dreams, 'Freddy vs. Jason' is a disappointment, pure and simple. Director Ronny Yu (Formula 51) does an admirable job of recreating the style of the original movies, but little else. The feel is a little old, and it's marred by unnecessarily awkward exposition, and uninspired camera work. Mind you, there's not much Yu could have done with the material. As much as we might like Freddy and Jason, there's something pointless about watching two immortals duke it out. The fight scenes can be amusing, but they're far from revolutionary, much less exciting.
In general, 'Freddy vs. Jason' is everything a rabid fanatic would want, and not an achingly bad B movie otherwise. For the majority of horror fans however, FvJ promises a lot, but delivers on very little. If you don't give a damn about the mythology, then there's not much here from you.