Freddy Krueger versus Jason Voorhees in a fight to the finish. Let’s hope it’s the finish anyway.
This dreadful conglomeration of horror clichés and non-thrills is the brainchild of New Line Cinema, which figured it could combine two successful slasher franchises into one bloodthirsty extravaganza, the result being beaucoup box office. It succeeded on that level — it reportedly grossed $80 million domestically — but it fails at every other.
The problem is, these types of pictures have nowhere to go, because the genre is so oversaturated with mundane mayhem that fails to connect on any logical storytelling level. It’s just an excuse to trot out familiar characters in overly familiar situations in the hopes of scaring the daylights out of dimwitted teenagers.
At least this two-disk package has enough in the way of extras to keep horror fans busy long after the final slash is administered in the feature.
Disk One has both widescreen and fullscreen versions of the film, plus commentary by director Ronny Yu (whose previous claim to fame was helming “Bride of Chucky,” so you know he had a lot to live up to here) and a menu that allows you to “Jump to a Death” for those viewers who would rather not be bothered with the mechanics of the deeply complex screenplay.
Disk Two has deleted or alternate scenes, also with commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, storyboards and photo galleries, the original theatrical trailer and a music video. There is also DVD-ROM stuff as well, including an item called “The Cutting Room Floor Edit Activity.”
There had been 17 prior “Friday the 13th” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” productions before this one. Let’s hope the dead remain buried this time.
Check out this special feature: For pure laughs, you can’t beat the “Development Hell” segment on Disk Two, in the mini-doc about the film’s evolution. Considering the seriousness with which the participants talk about the preparation and making of “Freddy vs. Jason,” you’d think this was a Fellini retrospective put out by the Criterion Collection people instead of a bloody gorefest done for the sole purpose of raking in dough.
New Line Cinema ($29.95)
Brian Helgeland is a splendid screenwriter, and not a bad director. He won an Oscar for co-writing the adaptation of “L.A. Confidential,” and he also penned, among others, Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River.” As a director, he did a decent job on “Payback” starring Mel Gibson and “A Knight’s Tale” with Heath Ledger.
So what exactly was he thinking with “The Order”?
Helgeland wrote, produced and directed this slumber-inducing “supernatural thriller” with nary a thrill to be had, save for the rolling of the final credits. It has an “Exorcist” feel to it, but without the interest. Ledger plays a Catholic priest chosen to eat the sins of a Sin Eater, who eats sins in order to absolve the sinner. He should have put some salsa on this tasteless platter before he dined.
What’s worse, it takes itself far too seriously. Without any genuine excitement or anticipation, the result is a ponderous and pretentious glob of religious gobbledegook adorned with horror accoutrements.
The DVD comes with the basics. In addition to the feature, there is a director’s commentary by Helgeland, deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. That’s about it.
This picture was roundly crucified by critics and met a grisly death at the box office. Seeing a talented guy like Helgeland miscalculate so badly and meet that kind of a fate with this effort is more terrifying than anything Heath Ledger’s Father Alex Bernier experiences in the movie.
Check out this special feature: The disk is skimpy, but Helgeland’s commentary is rather entertaining. He provides some interesting tidbits on shooting in and around Rome and at the famed Cinecitta Studios, hangout for Italian giants like Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci. Also worth viewing is the deleted scenes area, which also includes dailies. You can watch some of the players overact without sound effects or music, which is spine-tingling in itself.
20th Century Fox ($27.98)
Michael Ventre is a Los Angeles-based reporter who writes regularly for MSNBC.com.