Presumably, the value of combining two lightweight horror franchises lies in the ability to thrill and frighten without taxing the gray matter. After two decades, however, lumbering, machete-wielding automaton Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger), from the Friday the 13th films, and A Nightmare on Elm Street‘s flayed, kiddie-killing wiseacre Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund, natch) are about as threadbare as a favorite childhood plushy. What’s more, trying to keep the story line of strained meta-sequel Freddy Vs. Jason straight requires too much of a cogitative investment.
The two baddies are brought together when Freddy, who’s trapped in hell (resembling a Greenpoint basement flat), haunts Jason’s dreams to start him on another murder spree. The hockey-masked one begins scaring Elm Street’s latest batch of expendable teens (including Destiny’s Child’s Kelly Rowland and Jason Ritter, spawn of John) out of taking their dream-inhibiting “Hypnocil,” clearing the way for Freddy to knock them off while spouting potty-mouthed zingers.
Getting the monsters at each other’s throats, though, is no easy task, not least because of the disparity between the Friday movies’ gloomy, repressed milieu and the tongue-in-cheek sadism of the Nightmare cycle. Screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift don’t try all that hard to meld the respective series, bouncing from character to character until the gore-spattered climactic dustup, and director Ronny Yu’s efforts to generate visual interest—with neck-straining close-ups and oblique angles—are overfamiliar as every other slasher trope. Come to think of it, about all Freddy and Jason ever had in common was their gleeful way with killing youngsters and, perhaps not coincidentally, the fact that their exploits spanned the Reagan-Bush I era. Ronnie and George—now that was certainly a match made in hell.