Sunday, 7 October 2018

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: FRIDAY THE 13TH: A NEW BEGINNING


86. “This is a mess. No way. I refuse to do this! You're the one who keeps fucking around with it so get off your ass and fix it! You understand?”



07/10/2018




I rarely ever make a conscious decision to watch a horror film, but if I were, I’d be more likely to choose an older film, mostly up to the mid-1980s before the cliché, excess and self-references set in. Yes, you can say something similar about any genre, but horror films are more likely to have the type of long-running series of films that end up turning in on themselves.

I had thought that the intention of the “Friday the 13th” series of films, along with “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” was to kill the killer in such a definitive way that it provided the perfect starting point for the next film – how do you bring them back? Of course, I now know better: “Friday the 13th” was originally going to end as a trilogy, then a fourth was ordered, with the intent of completely finishing the story – it was not called “The Final Chapter” as a bluff. However, because it did so well at the box office, another new trilogy was planned, with part 5, “A New Beginning,” released just under a year after part 4.


From the start, this film feels like it has been made to a very strict plan: Tommy Jarvis, the child who killed Jason Vorhees at the end of part 4, is now older, released into a halfway house from a mental institution, still having flashbacks to Jason – you know he will become him. Henceforth, the plot becomes a case of guessing who isn’t Jason, once the killings start, at a steady rate of about one every seven to eight minutes of screen time (or a shock or scare if there is no kill), as mandated by Paramount Pictures, with a liberal sprinkling of sex, gore and gratuitous shots of women’s breasts. For this reason, you don’t get much reason to care when a character dies, because you are only given enough of them to put you on the path towards caring about them, before it doesn’t matter anymore.

This film was deliberately more psychological in its plot than the previous “Friday the 13th” films, and the guessing game of the killer’s identity requires far more of the audience than other films in the series, although it is a bit odd why we are suddenly required to pay attention to an ambulance driver is a bit odd, and revealing his son was staying at the halfway house is even more jarring. By the end, Tommy has had so many hallucinations you are practically waiting for the final reveal.


In the end, it all counted for nothing, as Jason Vorhees was simply brought back for part 6, in the manner you always expected, except with more jokes. The actors who were signed up for the next film, their characters having survived, had their contracts terminated, with a third actor playing Tommy Jarvis: John Shepherd worked in a mental hospital in preparation for his role, and was then told that “Repetition” was a fake title for a “Friday the 13th” film, although his performance hides his disappointment very well.
(Also, if anyone can tell me the reason for the redneck mother and son in this film... that's fine, but please still keep it to yourself - it was probably so they could be killed off.)

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