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In the post-Scream era, not even the stupidest scary movie is safe from the most devastating creature in cinematic history: the self-aware teen. With horror caught in a meta-ironic death spiral, there’s no way just one relic from the Halloween cutout bin could cash in on—er, revive the slasher genre. Much better to have two. As Freddy vs. Jason begins, the pleasingly retrograde kids of Springwood are doped up on dream suppressants. With no one quaking on Elm Street, Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) manipulates comrade in undeadness Jason Voorhees (Ken Kirzinger) into lending a hand as he gathers strength. Until then, Jason plods ponderously through the movie, harking back to a time when the worlds of violence and sex commingled without the aid of smartass voice-over. The film’s death scenes are workmanlike—a skinny-dipper here, an Everclear swiller there—with only the late appearance of a shisha-smoking worm adding a bit of humor to the bloodlust. While the slashers slash, the script holds the audience’s hand to the point of ridiculousness, doling out a combined 17 movies’ worth of backstory in dialogue so stultifying that the actors might as well be reading out their stage directions. Indeed, the best that can be said for the film’s almost-celebrities—the woman who looks way too much like Brittany Murphy (Monica Keena), the one from Destiny’s Child who’s not Beyoncé (Kelly Rowland), the son of John Ritter (Jason Ritter)—is that they take up space while director Ronny (Bride of Chucky) Yu wastes time before the climactic baddie battles. When Freddy and Jason do finally duke it out, however, their tête-à-tête is so guilelessly crowd-pleasing it seems as if Yoda might jump in with a lightsaber at any second. Better still, no one stops the action to spell out the dramatic irony: When two old horror characters fight, they’re really just reaching out and saving each other. —Josh Levin