Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

I find myself struggling to identify why I liked the previous movies in this series, but didn’t this one. It’s tempting to just say that the formula was stale by this point, but I feel it was something more than that. I suppose if I had to give an explanation it would be that he film was unfocused. It seemed to feel that it had no requirements beyond reviving Jason and having him kill whoever happens to be in his path.

The plot of this film is that Jason (Ted White) wakes up in a hospital and kills some people, then goes back down to the lake to kill some people, then goes to a house where teens are having a party and kills yet some more people. I think by this point in the series we should have been exploring either new premises, or at least more original locations. The hospital is the only time when I felt that the atmosphere was noticeably different from the preceding films, and that atmosphere seemed ripped right out of Halloween II, which did the “killer in a hospital” set-up better, and three years earlier.

Beyond that, the movie seems to just throw characters at us for Jason to kill. In the first two entries Jason was attacking camp councilors, in the third he was attacking a bunch of pot-smoking teens on a farm. In this movie, Jason just kind of wanders around and kills whoever he happens to come across without any real rhyme or reason.

And then, of course, we have Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman). The young brother of our resident Final Girl Trish (Kimberly Beck). Tommy is one of the few recurring characters in this series, and will be present for the next two films. He’s definitely the strongest character in this film, but in an odd way that actually causes him to fail at his intended purpose as a character.

From the beginning the intention was to make Tommy a young Jason, with the implication that he would eventually turn into a killer himself. However, while it might relate to my own autism, Tommy comes across as a mildly autistic, but well-adjusted kid. He makes masks and plays video games because they interest him, and he may somewhat relate to Jason as an outsider.

Towards the end of the film Tommy shaves his head to distract Jason by looking more like him, and then, after Jason is put temporarily down, Tommy hits him repeatedly with his own machete to make sure he doesn’t get back up. This is treated as proof that Tommy has a violent opposed to Tommy being the only one smart enough to make sure that Jason is dead. Tommy isn’t going to turn into a slasher, he’s just not going to die by one either.

I don’t have much else to say about this film, honestly. I have no idea why it was marketed as a finale, when it ends with Jason being no more definitively dead than he was at the end of the previous movie. I accept it as the end of this sub-series not because it completed a story, but because the next film picks up years later.

Would I recommend it? Honestly, not really. I wish they would bring Tommy Jarvis back for future entries, but this is among the least memorable F13 films. For a finale he truly falls short. It’s neither trashy enough to be a true exploitation film, nor does it yet treat Jason with the awe of an iconic character. If anything, I felt less awe than in the previous entry.

To end on a fun trivia note: I was mentally reviewing the F13 movies the other day, and I realized that all parodies are actually spoofing this movie. It’s the only one that has all the pop-culture traits: Jason is the killer (he isn’t in I and V), he wears his hockey mask from the beginning (he doesn’t have it in II and gains it part-way through III), and he isn’t yet overtly supernatural (VI+). Just a weird little bit of fanboying.

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