There are some situations in which a good script, with a coherent story and solid characters, is absolutely called for, and some situations when it's not.

This is one of those occasions.

Ronny Yu's vision of the long-awaited battle between horror's two super-divas is ripe with self-awareness, never quite daring to take itself too seriously and never forgetting to return, if only in part, to the rather hardcore origins from which these characters first emerged. And in as much as this approach can work, it succeeds tremendously.

But frankly, this is a battle that fans have been waiting a decade for, ever since that familiar, metallic glove gave that familiar, tattered hockey mask the five-razor discount at the end of Friday the 13th, Part Whatever. And for every draft that's been written in its service; for every director who has expressed interest; for every fan who has ever uttered the question, "When, goddammit, dear God, when!" there's a line or a character or a scene that just doesn't work. The film begins with a rather nice prologue, explaining the set-up in an engagingly creepy and violent manner, giving up the blood, gore and laughter from the first firey frame.

Freddy, in voice over, explains that the Elm Street children are being kept from dreaming by a drug called Hypnocil (a la Nightmare on Elm Street 3), and since they no longer remember his vicious past, they can no longer fear him, and fear, as we all know, is like oxygen to our well-done anti-hero. So in cometh Jason, used here as Freddy's eight-foot tall, machete-wielding puppet (the Kermit, if you will, to Freddy's Jim Henson), sent in to give the Elm Street clan an unsuspected wakeup call it deserves. This, of course, is all established in the first ten minutes, after which the film makes its greatest, and most inevitable, error. And the logic, one supposes is sound.

It's hard to imagine a horror film without characters to kill, and thankfully kills come in plenty here. What isn't entirely entertaining, however, is watching a pack of these children hog 60% of the film's spotlight, progressing through the flick only to discover exactly what we've known from the beginning. And with the second-rate dialogue and often third-rate performances, all we're given to cling to is the hope that we'll see our favorite uber-villains get down to it eventually.

So while the usual suspects assemble to await their deaths, we're left waiting for more of what we came for in the first place: Freddy, Jason and some supernatural ass-kicking.But as the Proverbial They have said in the past, "When it rains, it pours

Freddy vs. Jason is out August 15, 2003.

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