Freddy vs. Jason

(Ronny Yu, USA, 2003)


2003 marked the weakest year for horror movies in a long time.

The genre was not in the doldrums, production wise. On the contrary, there was a profusion of everything from no-nonsense exploitation movies (Cabin Fever, 2003) to attempts at artistic horror (28 Days Later, 2003), via such inevitable homages to The Blair Witch Project (1999) as My Little Eye (2002). Australia also did its bit for this so-called revival with Undead (2003).

But I am mighty tired of horror movies that aim for nothing but visceral shocks, and have no sense of the deeper possibilities inherent in their storylines.

Freddy vs. Jason is stylishly handled by the great Hong Kong director Ronny Yu (The Bride with White Hair, 1993) – action scenes are artful concatenations of sudden, blurred movements, Eisensteinian cuts and glinting blades – but, in every other respect, it marks the nadir of the horror boom.

Of course, the film is a classic exploitation marketing concept rather than a serious idea for a story. Freddy (Robert Krueger) from the Nightmare on Elm St series cannot get back into the dreams of the community members he once terrorised, because he has been forgotten. (The producers obviously have the same worry, since this sequel expends so much energy reminding us of the previous films in the series.) So Freddy decides to put Jason (Ken Kirzinger) from the Friday the 13th series to work, creating fear and opening the unconscious realm.

So we get the gruesomely devised serial murders of good-looking teenagers – topped, as usual, with excruciating puns – and a final showdown, when Jason starts to disobey his master.

And if you can believe, by this stage, that either of those super-creatures can actually die for good, you obviously haven’t seen many contemporary horror movies.

MORE Yu: The 51st State, Warriors of Virtue

© Adrian Martin October 2003

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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