7 Days of Nightmares: 2003’s Freddy vs Jason

The last Nightmare and the last Friday before each of their remakes. Do they finish up on top, or should they have quit while they were ahead?

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It took me…longer than it should have for me to publish this as part of “7 Days of Nightmares”. This sat on the back-burner for quite some time. I just couldn’t re-publish this with the fairly lazy wording I had used back in 2007, but the ideas were complete enough that I knew I would need to re-write half the article in order to fix that.

An important secret about Springwood’s history is being kept from the youth of the town. When this dark secret enlists the aid of the Crystal Lake killer to spread the word, it is revealed! but is it already too late? Well, yes. It’s too late…Too late to save the Nightmare on Elm Street series from mediocre despite Wes Craven’s most valiant attempts, too late to save the Friday the 13th series from the infamous opinion it has developed in the most recent installments. But is it too late for the characters? Perhaps not.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is the effects. Of the two series combined, I would probably say only the first two Nightmares and New Nightmare are on par with it. They?re creative (such as the dissolving blood drops) and detailed (such as Freddy?s face early on). However, if a twenty first century sequel was unable to match up to the graphics of the shittier looking eighties installments and Jason X, I would have to wonder where their budget went. So, I guess the best I can really say is that it doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

I also liked the visual recap of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Thankfully, they stuck mostly to scenes from the first three movies. Had they tried to show the films more evenly, this probably would not be coming up as a positive thing, because the last two were ugly, and the fourth’s decent kills were both too long to really come up with anything for a collage like that.

As far as the villains, they didn’t do too bad. Jason didn’t move like Jason, at least when compared to Freddy – after watching enough movies with Kane Hodder as Jason, this is to be expected. You can say that it doesn’t take acting, and you’d be right, but show me two completely different people who are not related and don’t do everything together who have the same body motion. He swung his machete differently, he seemed to stand differently, all of that can’t be helped and subliminally hurts the movie. However, Jason still got in his big scene: the angel of death with his machete of fire working hard to do his part for the body count still going on between him, Freddy and Myers. Another interesting tidbit is that Jason seems to have picked up a new power in hell: his presence invokes wind. If you don’t believe me, watch the beginning again.

Freddy vs Jason also showed one of the darkest Freddys yet. I’m pretty sure the closest he ever came to a rape scene before was a tongue in the phone, and spanking the coach. He comes a lot closer here, that’s for sure, not to mention the mindfuckery being turned up to 11. It was rather strange for Freddy “every town has an Elm Street” Krueger to tell Jason to “go to Elm Street”. After all, why would he want him to go to the Elm Street near Camp Crystal Lake? There was another reason Freddy was a little disappointing in this film: he only has one kill. Krueger spends most of the film messing with Jason, and neglects his duties as the antagonist of the film in the process.

The dream sequences of Freddy vs Jason are wide and varied, with such features as Jason’s childhood at Camp Crystal Lake, a Wonderland-esque drug dream, and the blood tendrils from the later Nightmares. Not all of the dreams are winners, though: the dream in which Freddy reveals the impotence borne of being forgotten tries to employ the mood-setting techniques of a slower, atmospheric movie while coming off as rushed and confused. Being rushed is nothing new to the latter films in these franchises, but it doesn’t mix well with lighting that seems better suited to a much slower paced movie.

The acting is decent, though admittedly doesn’t call for much development. The girl with no personality – as in nothing to give Freddy any ammunition and no strengths to cause her to get involved in the fight – survives. The rest of the cast is a standard slasher lottery: Jason Mewes, the asshole, the drunk, and the token black girl obsessed with appearances.

The movie wraps up with the expected fight scene. As a Kane Hodder fan I have to criticize the stunts, but I can’t say I was disappointed visually. In fact, this film looked better than most of the 17 films before it in the series. The end result was a Nightmare on Elm Street series plot with Jason performing the actual kills. Despite this, Jason is actually made out to be both the victim and the hero, much as many of his films were sympathetic to his history. The foci of Freddy vs Jason ensure that, while not amazing fans like the original films, this movie should delight ardent fans of both series.

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