In Samuel Beckett’s classic play “Waiting For Godot”, Godot never shows up, a state of affairs that has left title literalists furious for decades. Sadly, “Jason Takes Manhattan” cannot live up to that magnificent standard, but it tries, as the famous island is not reached until just after the hour, and Jason’s entire time in something that looks like Manhattan (not just Vancouver, where it was mostly filmed) is about 10 seconds.
The opening pair of murders is a handy indication of how little anyone involved in the making of this movie cares about providing anything remotely satisfying or entertaining. A couple (topless girl, boy who keeps his jeans on – of course) are on a yacht on Crystal Lake, discussing the legend of Jason Voorhees. Before we even get started, this isn’t the only time he’s referred to as a legend, which indicates there are so many spree-killers operating in the state of New Jersey that the indestructible mask-wearing Jason isn’t even a blip on the news! Anyway…he gives a potted history of the timeline and says it happened thirty years ago…now, have a list:
Part 2 (1981): they discuss Jason’s story as if it’s an old campfire tale, indicating it didn’t happen the previous year.
Part 5 (1985): Corey Feldman had time to grow up from a pre-teen into an adult from the events of part 4.
Part 7 (1988): The main character is seen in flashback, just after the events of part 6, as a child, but the movie happens when she’s an adult.
So, despite there being less than a decade between part 1 and part 8, at least 30 years have passed – and that’s a conservative estimate. A smarter film would have made a joke about this, but unfortunately this is not a smart film. If you’re looking for stuff which isn’t just splitting hairs, the boy plays a prank on his girlfriend by dressing up in Jason’s actual mask (same axe mark from part 4 and everything), which he evidently has just lying around. Huh?
The majority of the film takes place on a high school graduation cruise ship, going from New Jersey to New York. By the way, New Jersey is right next to New York, and the trip would take hours, indicating an overnight cruise ship as an unlikely form of transport – although, they’ve not actually mentioned the location since part 2, so it might be further away (let’s give them a little break). Your typical assortment of teen stereotypes are there; plus there’s an old guy on the boat who does the “you’re all going to die!” speech; and a couple of teachers, one of whom is also the legal guardian of Rennie, who’s probably the star (although she doesn’t get tons more screen time than anyone else).
So anyway, an unpleasant group of high schoolers get slaughtered on a ship for about an hour, then a few of them escape on a life-raft and get to “Manhattan”. That they’re able to row up to the island, tie up and get out without anyone noticing them indicates pre – 9/11 security was really, really lax; but that’s peanuts to Jason, who swims there and is only a few seconds behind them. He’s a man of many talents! After a brief pause for a rare mid-movie “haha all our friends are dead”, Jason takes in the city, which mainly involves filthy back alleys, sewers and a subway set. Luckily, the subway system is set to be flooded with toxic waste (why? Because reasons) and the last shot of Jason in what was intended to be the last movie in the series – yes, that’s three times these people have tried to shut this garbage down and failed – is as a naked dead child in the sewer, as that waste washed away the barnacles that had clung to him and formed the tall, adult super-murderer.
It sort of gets fun in the last ten minutes or so, with Jason providing a few laughs with his interactions with the weirdoes of Times Square, but it is way too little, way too late. Jason kills a bunch of people (although why he ignores some completely innocent people but murders other completely innocent people is sadly lost to time), gets stopped forever, see you in a few years. Although most of the murders are rubbish (one with a machete looks like bad local theatre) it does feature one of the all time greats…tell you what, here’s the video (NSFW, unless you work with serial killers):
This movie is a strong indictment of Health and Safety law. If the cruise ship had had an emergency radio on it that Jason couldn’t disable by pulling out a few wires, or had registered its route, then the Coastguard would have been on hand long before they got anywhere near Manhattan. Actually, where were all the staff on the boat? No cooks, no bar staff, no cleaners, no DJ, the only people we see are the captain and his assistant. Perhaps the school could afford to rent the (enormous) ship, but not any staff to help them out? Ah, who cares.
Rating: thumbs down
(PS – thanks to my wife for the “barnacles” bit, she was making a joke about the dumb endings these films have but it ended up being as good an explanation as anything else I’ve read)