Gods and Generals

Robert Englund, Ken Kiringer, Kelly Rowland
Directed by Ronny Yu
Running Time: 97 mins
Rated: MA 15+

In 1980 the abused child, now psychopath Jason debuted in Friday 13th. It was a hit on the horror genre circuit. That was followed by Friday 13th Part 2 (1981) and Friday 13th Part 3: 3D (1982).

In 1984 Freddy Krueger started successfully terrorising middle America in Nightmare on Elm Street, followed by New Nightmare (1985), Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (1987), Nightmare on Elm Street 4 (1988), The Dream Child (1989), Freddy's Dead (1991) and Freddy's Revenge (1999).

How do you get some more bucks out of a diminishing franchise? Have Freddy meet Jason on Friday 13th in people's nightmares on Elm Street.

Four years after his daughter killed him, Freddy Krueger (Endlund) is not remembered in the nightmares of teenagers on Elm Street. Parents have gone to great lengths to make their children forget him, including drugging
up in a mental hospital the last two teenagers who remember him. So Freddy resurrects Jason from the dead and sends him to Elm Street on a killing spree. The word gets around that Freddy is back. His memory is reborn
and he invades the nightmares of another group of teenagers. Meanwhile Jason finds out that Freddy was just using him and sets about killing the teenagers Freddy wants to terrorise. A showdown follows.

There's been a number of studies on the horror genre in both film and literature. We can dismiss it too quickly. The target audience is 13-25, when young adults often want to explore the boundaries of life and death,
finitude and abjection. Horror films play on their fears and phantasies and, at best, provide a safe environment in which teenagers restage their fears and purify them. For this age group these films can be cathartic.

Freddy Vs. Jason does this with boring regularity. The mixture of sex and death, sword wielding, knife thrusting, blood, corpses, disease and anything that contaminates or defiles is all on display. But the banal script and uninspired direction means the film is a cheap imitation of the earliest films in either series.

As one could guess the morality in these films is abysmal, but the horror genre is meant to exploit our dreams and nightmares where the usual moral strictures we place on our thoughts are ceded to the unconscious.

Though superbly edited with very good special effects, this ninth film in the combined series is neither scary nor interesting, and will only appeal to its target audience who may want to look at the dark, violent side of Otherness.

Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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