a Primal Root review
For me, there was no bigger event film this past decade than Freddy vs. Jason. It was the film my friends I would talk about on the playground when I was in elementary school. Who would win? Who has the advantage? It was so much fun building these scenarios and debating who was the tougher monster between hanging from monkey bars and playing flag football. I think it was in those early discussions that I grew an allegiance to Jason Voorhees in a giant sandbox at DeSoto Trail Elementary. . We already had King Kong vs. Godzilla, Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman….where was Freddy vs. Jason? It was the movie all of us were dying to see. The years passed and I waited.
And then the news broke. It was actually going to happen after all these years of hoping, waiting, rumors, false reports and face palmingly weak leaked scripts it was finally happening. New Line was putting into production the one film I’d been wanting to see since I was in short pants. Freddy vs. Jason. I could not have been happier. For the majority of 2003 leading up to the release of the film I could not stop watching both franchises over and over, hyping myself up into a frenzy over the upcoming film to the point I knew my friends wished I would get caught between the two slashers and be quieted for good.
The big day finally arrived. I put on m Jason costume and hockey mask as a sign of allegiance, and headed to the midnight showing. I got there early and rushed to the best seat in the house. Turns out only myself and two of my friends had dressed up as who we were rooting for (two Jasons, one Freddy) so we stuck out like the awkward, over enthusiastic horror fans we are.
The lights dimmed, the trailers ran…and then the movie began.
Freddy vs. Jason begins with Krueger narrating his life story over footage of his final moments and his life as the eternal dream demon, Fred Krueger. It’s been almost a decade since Freddy has seen any action, Springwood has hushed up those who remember him and white washed everything regarding his very existence. Without the children’s fear, Freddy is rendered powerless to haunt their dreams and has been dwelling in Hell ever since.
But, being the evil genius he is, Freddy has found a way to make the children of Springwood remember. By resurrecting the towering hunk of unstoppable rotted death, Jason Voorhees. Freddy is hoping Jason can spark some fear into the kids, and in the process, bring the legend of Freddy back to life.
The plan goes swimmingly at first. Jason rips up some Elm Street residents, the kids start getting scared and Freddy is again able to enter their nightmares. But there’s one little bit of the equation Freddy left out. See, Jason is REALLY good at what he does. He may not be the high concept killer Freddy is but Jason knows how to get the job done, quickly and efficiently which might be why he always has the higher body counts. Jason kills just about everyone within machete shot where Freddy brings in a kill total of…1. Way to bring your A game, bro.
Freddy vs. Jason is a blazingly cool and tantalizing idea. The simple day dreams of these two laying into each other is the stuff of childhood fantasy. And that’s what we went in expecting, a none stop battle to the death between the greatest icons of modern horror. One thing we hadn’t counted on was all the teen melodrama which makes up almost three quarters of the film.
See, there’s this plot about a girl named Lori who lives at 1428 Elm Street now with her psychiatrist father. Lori’s Mom was murdered in the house and her pops is made up to be a red herring, which if you buy into, you’re a complete idiot. Of course Freddy killed her. Anyway, Lori’s boyfriend Will saw the murder go down and is now locked up at Westin Hills (REMEMBER! From Nightmare 3 & 5? Yay, for references to previous films!) with his buddy Mark on Lori’s father’s orders.
Jason sneaks into Lori’s house, kills a jerk, Will escapes and finds Lori and blah, blah, blah, did anyone care? Does anyone care now? It’s all just filler and a means to slow the pace of the film to a snail’s crawl and deliver inane, moronic dialog that helps to crap all over both franchise mythologies.
“Freddy’s afraid of fire, Jason’s afraid of water…how can we use that?”
And the problems roll on from there.
When the shit did Jason become afraid of the water? Sure, deep down subconsciously (does Jason even have a subconscious?) which is where Freddy is able to tap into it. It makes sense, seeing as he drowned at Crystal Lake (or, kind of drowned but didn’t and doggy paddled to shore and decided to never inform his Mom of this fact) but in the real world? Jason’s been literally living in and around the lake for decades! He doesn’t show much fear of the water in the real world during Freddy vs. Jason, but the sad thing is, that single line uttered by Lori has ingrained in many young horror fan’s minds that Jason really is afraid of water. Like, you could turn a hose on him and he’d run away like a frightened little girl. This is simply not the case and we all know better.
Then again, I guess the writers had to give Jason some kind of weakness in order to balance the fight. Because let’s face it, once Freddy enters the real world and is face to face with Jason, that fucker’s dead as Dillinger. But of course, Freddy has taken kung-fu lessons while in Hell and busts that shit out all over Jason’s ass in a surreal and comical fight sequence at the end of the film.
It’s this battle royal that the two titans get into, Round 1 in Freddy’s Dream World & Round 2 at Camp Crystal Lake, that Freddy vs. Jason really starts cooking. The battle commenced and it was a sight to behold .It’s insane and over the top and quite cool in my book.
Freddy continually gets the upper hand thanks to his intelligence and agility but his cockiness tends to get the better of him. Jason just takes the damage, as always, and keeps on ticking. Sure, he looks like he’s hurtin’, but it’s Jason Voorhees. To him, everything is just a flesh wound.
My favorite moment in the fight comes when the two are on the pier together, lit by the burning cabins in the distance, Jason rips of Freddy’s arm, Freddy sticks Jason’s machete deep int he hockey masked killer’s chest. The music sweels, the two lock eyes and exchange hate filled glares before a huge explosion erupts sending both boogiemen hurtling in Crystal Lake. It’s almost like a final goodbye, like a strange, slasher twist on that last kiss between guy and girl before they both part ways. It was THIS moment I had been imagining for years. When the two monsters, caked in blood and gore, gasping for air and on their last leg, starred into one another’s eyes. Two legends fueled with hate, one of pure evil and the other eternally seeking vengeance, embraced in death.
I’m not going to lie, I got a little misty eyed from beneath my hockey mask on first viewing.
There’s still some debate as to who won this thing. Freddy fans will always say it was Freddy and Jason’s fans will say Jason is the clear victor. . I dunno, it’s really up in the air and it has to be by design. I’ve heard some fans on both sides griping about this but it’s fine with me. I half expected it to end that way going into the movie. The moments between Freddy and Jason were so entertaining I can forgive them for not wanting to please just one side or the other.
Freddy vs. Jason works pretty well as a Friday the 13th film but is probably around the same level of artistic merit in the Nightmare franchise as Part 4: The Dream Master. It’s an event film, pure and simple. Not something made to be anything more than pure entertainment for the masses and a tip of the fedora/hockey mask to the loyal fans who had been waiting since the mid 80’s for this sucker.
The sad thing is how boring and lack luster the segments featuring our teen leads are. They just seem more annoying and useless than usual but that could just be because I am so anxious to see what the title of the film is promising. I just remember wishing the film would get moving whenever our teenage pals showed up to furrow their brows and talk about how much it sucks their friends are dead. Come on, Freddy vs. Jason, let’s get to the main event!
It’s old hat with a bit of a twist in matching the two guys together. Freddy’s charisma is a great foil to Jason’s silent brutality and it makes for an enjoyable viewing experience when they are in one another’s company.
This was a film I had dreamed about for years and now I own it. I have seen it numerous times, I have the poster rolled up in a tube. What was once simple childhood playground debates is now set in stone. It went down, the masters duked it out, and now it’s over. I left the theater with a smile on my face. I had witnessed what we had always talked about. I wonder what my childhood friends thought of it? It took me back to that time and I think that’s the major appeal of the movie to me. It’s not just the ultimate battle of horror pop culture icons, but a trip down memory lane and a loving tribute to the slasher form.
Both franchises had completely run out of steam at this point. The Friday the 13th series had crapped out Jason X and Wes Craven had delivered the poetic and darkly beautiful New Nightmare as a final chapter for Freddy. But if both series wanted to bring their heads to the surface and gasp one final breath before plunging into the annals of trash cinema history for good, I was pleased they did it together.
-The Primal Root