Following the events of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, Freddy Krueger languishes in hell, forgotten by the children of Springwood. To rekindle their fear, Freddy resurrects Jason Voorhees and unleashes him on Springwood. As the bodies pile up, the town’s older residents fear Freddy has returned. This fear feeds Freddy, returning him to full strength, but he finds reigning in Jason a challenge, leading to a battle of the monsters.
But first we must endure the plot. The script follows the Elm Street formula. A group of teens endures nightmares, discover they’re all dreaming about the same man, discover the man’s identity, face improbable disbelief from the adults, then discover how to defeat Freddy. Prior Elm Street films used this structure to string together inventive dream sequences, culminating in elaborate kills. Not here. The teens dream of deserted streets and grimy basements. The kills prove gruesome but forgettable.
Contrast this with the Friday the 13th formula. A group of teens gather in the woods. Jason massacres them. The kills may not be as imaginative or elaborate as the Elm Street series, but they dominate. The plot is something Jason stomps over in his relentless slaughter.
Shoe-horning Jason into the Elm Street formula proves an awkward fit. We endure long stretches where he’s idle so the kids can deliver exposition dumps to advance the plot. Said dumps often feature extraordinary leaps of logic, the pinnacle coming when, after learning Jason was dead, a teen speculates: “I mean, what if Freddy brought Jason back because he was too weak to go after us on his own so he used Jason.”
Worst of all, the titular battle between Freddy and Jason underwhelms. Those excited to see Freddy invade Jason’s dreams—of seeing what Jason’s dreams might entail—learn Jason dreams of a large, dingy, industrial-looking room full of pipes. The prolonged fight sequence between the two titans plays more like action than horror, with the pair spending an inordinate amount of time throwing one another across the screen.
Still, I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer credit where it’s due. Early on, the kids attend a rave party in a cornfield outside town. Jason arrives to off one of the central kids and, in the process, catches fire. Then we get a dynamite scene where a fiery Jason emerges from the corn and slaughters anyone within reach. It’s everything I wanted to see in Jason Takes Manhattan. Jason, set loose in a large crowd, a vortex of death. More of that, please.