Review by Thomas Scalzo
Posted on 30 October 2006
Source New Line DVD
Features: 31 Days of Horror
Ah the versus movie, where would the long-running franchise be without it? When it was announced that New Line (owners of Nightmare) had acquired the rights to Friday the 13th, fans of both venerable series began wondering if a battle picture might be in the works. And after it was announced that such a film would indeed come into existence, the debate over who would win such a battle began. For as everyone knows, you don’t go into a versus movie expecting cinematic wonders, and you certainly don’t expect to be scared—what you want from a versus movie is two screen titans engaged in a fight to the finish. And impressively, on this score at least, Freddy vs. Jason delivers.
Before we can get to the actual fighting though, we would, of course, need a reason why such a brawl would ever come about. Again impressively, the writers at the helm come up with a decent explanation: Freddy’s in hell, and, assuming we forget that Jason X ever happened, so is Mr. Voorhees. Determined to find a way to make the kids of Elm Street fear him again, Freddy, by impersonating Jason’s dead mother, revives the eternal terror and orders him to work his machete-magic on the kids of Elm Street. Convinced that Freddy is once again in their midst, the parents and children of Elm Street begin to fear him again. And just like that, Freddy’s back.
Once this basic plot is established, the film rolls along like many others in both series: Freddy scares people, Jason kills people, Freddy kills people, Jason kills more people. The twist is that Freddy starts to get annoyed that Jason is harvesting more than his fair share of teens, and decides to send the masked menace back from whence he came. And of course, Jason won’t go down without a fight. The ensuing brawls are quite fun, rife with copious amounts of spurting blood, and several limbs severed, regenerated, and severed again. And though fans of both series certainly have plenty to cheer for, it’s hard to spend much energy rooting for Freddy the child murderer, whose existential purpose is simply to kill children because he likes to, when the flip side of the coin is a rampaging mass of fury taking eternal vengeance on the horrific wrongs that were done to him so many years ago.
Indeed, in one of the film’s most memorable, and intriguing to the series, scenes, we watch what happened at Camp Crystal Lake when Jason was but a boy of eleven—hounded mercilessly to the edge of the dock, and forced into the water. Their attentions diverted elsewhere, the counselors allow the boy to drown. Regardless of his penchant for murder, this scene serves to remind us that Jason is, at his core, a pitiable monster, while Freddy is throughout accurately rendered as the perpetually evil fiend that he is.