After my 500th review celebrations, I decided to get back to the great work of the ISCFC, which at the moment is to grimly trudge our way through yet another horror franchise…
…but then something weird happened. At the 6 minute mark, as Tommy (no longer the Jason-in-training that the end of part 5 would have us believe – yes, remarkably similar to “Halloween 5” – but a good guy) rams a steel rod through Jason’s desiccated corpse, lightning strikes it and miraculously Jason is brought back to life; and you realise all bets are off for the rest of this series. But this isn’t the weird thing – it’s that the filmmakers realise it too, and they want you to have a good time. The James Bond style opening credits sequence merely emphasises that point.
Imagine that! No-one’s trying to pretend that this might be the last movie in the series, or that there’s any rhyme or reason to the people who get brutally murdered. Writer-director Tom McLoughlin has made an honest-to-goodness funny movie, further establishing the comic bona fides of this franchise. Now, I’ve been extremely critical of the previous F13th movies for being cynical teen-death delivery systems, but when something else is going on (like some really well-crafted comedy) that’s a lot easier to take.
Let’s do the plot. So, Jason is out of the grave and on his way back to Camp Crystal Lake. Tommy, who’s made it through three films and is approaching Dr. Loomis levels, realises this but gets arrested by the local Sheriff, who of course doesn’t believe that Voorhees is back. The Sheriff’s daughter is one of the camp counsellors at the all new Camp Crystal Lake (it has a new name, but I can’t be bothered to look it up), so we’ve got a group of fun teens, some actual real children at the summer camp, the Sheriff and his deputies, and a bunch of paintballers out in the woods to bring up the numbers.
There are two scenes I wanted to single out as evidence that this is (by a distance) the best movie in the series so far, and first up is the death of the drunk cemetery worker. It’s incredibly difficult to edit with comic timing, so when Jason grabs the whisky bottle from the drunk, pauses the perfect amount of time, smashes it and rams the end through the poor sap’s chest, everyone involved deserved huge praise. Secondly is towards the end, as the kids are hiding underneath the beds. Two boys realise that the monstrous mass murderer is going to work his way round to them at some point, and one of them says “so, what were you going to be when you grew up?” An absolutely fantastic line, very well delivered. Then there’s a heap of great visual references, like one of the pre-teen kids reading “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Sartre, or the credit card from “American Excess”.
I could go on. There are car chases in this movie! In one scene, the douchebag camp counsellor is driving a large RV while his girlfriend is getting murdered by Jason in the toilet. Because he’s a douchebag, rather than figuring out something might be wrong, he just shouts back “what are you doing back there, takin’ a shit?” There’s the film debut of Tony Goldwyn, who’d go on to be the baddie in “Ghost” and the President on “Scandal”. There’s the really clever “matching” scene change shots (like a shot of a guy with a steel arrow in his face will cut to a dartboard, and so on). In fact, I have gone on!
Kevin Williamson, writer of “Scream”, says this film was a huge influence on him, showing how you could do a comedy and slasher movie together and have neither of them suffer. I can’t disagree, and although the ending drags a bit, and feels like it’s from a more traditional slasher movie, I don’t think I’ve got anything to criticise about this movie. Jennifer Cooke, who plays the Sheriff’s daughter, Megan, is quite a spunky, modern-seeming woman (until the end), and it’s a shame she stopped acting after this; they picked some great kid actors; and apart from a dull Tommy (the guy from part 5 became a born-again Christian and didn’t want to return to the series) and a dull-ish Sheriff, the acting is top-notch too.
I’m as surprised as you are, ISCFC readers. An unknown writer/director is given the reins to a pretty worthless horror franchise and absolutely nails it. Recommended with no problems at all.
Rating: thumbs up