I’m annoyed I wasted a “Waiting For Godot” joke while reviewing part 8, because at least Jason gets to Manhattan at some point in that movie; calling this “Jason Goes To Hell” is like calling Silence Of The Lambs “Hannibal Lecter Eats His Old Prison Warden” or Cloverfield “The Army Eventually Figures Out A Way Of Killing That Creature”. While the ending of the movie gives you a fair clue where he’s going after the end credits roll, the thing referred to in the title DOES NOT HAPPEN.
The worst thing about it all is that I thought that would be a pretty cool idea for a movie – seeing Jason finally killed in the first few minutes (as, indeed, he is, by an FBI hit squad) then having to fight his way through Hell, perhaps being chased by the spirits of the people he killed or something. It’s not an amazing idea, but it’s streets ahead of what we ended up with, where Jason’s bits and pieces of body are delivered to a morgue and his still-beating heart hypnotises the coroner; the coroner eats the heart, is possessed with the spirit of Jason, and then starts killing his way back towards Crystal Lake. Jason is now a brain-slug of some sort, an angle lifted from the far superior “The Hidden”, and can pass from body to body – you know, normal slasher movie stuff.
I think someone heard the complaints about a lack of gore in the previous movies, because boy oh boy does this one deliver. Heads are crushed, bodies are hacked apart, people sort-of disintegrate and we see it all – by a country mile the goriest Friday the 13th, and probably the goriest of all the “classic” slasher movies.
So, “Jason” eventually arrives at Crystal Lake, where a local diner is celebrating his apparent death with a Jason-themed menu. Finally, a movie in this damn series which treats Jason as if he’s real and not just an extremely deadly myth! Plus TV show “American Casefile” is doing a special on Jason, which involves the host of the show seducing Jason’s niece (he had a sister, apparently…whatever, although how the TV show host knew this when she didn’t is never elaborated on) and inserting himself into the story. Plus bounty hunter Creighton Duke is in town as he doesn’t think Jason is dead; after frightening the locals, he gets locked up and then starts banging on about a Voorhees prophecy – he can only be reborn by a Voorhees, or killed by a Voorhees, and this needs to happen in the Voorhees family home, with a special knife. I hate these stupid prophecies in movies that just come from nowhere. Who wrote this prophecy? When?
Now, don’t worry about any of this. The Voorhees family home would have been empty since 1980, right? But it’s still there, the electricity still works, etc. Where this prophecy comes from is never mentioned, so it’d have been a nice touch for it all to be completely garbage (hint: it isn’t); they used up their one clever play on horror tropes before the opening credits and couldn’t manage any more.
The stupid boring characters get killed or possessed by Jason, and blah blah blah. Jason shows up again, in full effect, near the end, after crawling his brain-slug “body” into the vagina of his dead sister (“he can be reborn by a Voorhees”, doesn’t need to be a living one). There’s a line I never thought I’d write. In a movie with plenty of references to classic horror movies (there’s a subtle and appropriate nod to “The Thing”, a very subtle reference to “Jaws”, plus the Voorhees house has a copy of the Necronomicon from “The Evil Dead”), the final one is a very famous knife-hand-glove helping drag Jason down to hell, which sets up the long-gestating “Freddy vs. Jason” (both properties being owned by New Line Cinema).
Actually, re: that Necronomicon. I think the movie was trying to tell us that Mrs Voorhees raised the brain-slug from Hell to get revenge on her behalf, even though she went crazy herself, and that Jason never really existed, but was just the result of the Voorhees blood combining with whatever hell-creature it’s supposed to be. This, of course, makes the last 8 movies even more pointless than they already were.
Part 9 is annoying, because not only could it have been slightly more entertaining if they’d just followed their own title, but there are flashes of something fun in there. The TV show and townspeople celebrating thing could have been built on, Creighton Duke could have been given a meatier part, the way they looked like they were going to mess with genre conventions (the woman who you think is going to be the Final Girl doesn’t make it past the first 20 minutes)…all these are routes a better film might have explored. The opening, especially, as Jason is trapped by the FBI and blown to pieces is a clever way of referencing that we all know the slasher movie tropes now and can even use them against Jason; then the rest of the movie is less “Friday The 13th” sequel and more extremely gory version of “Hidden”.
It looks nice, there’s no terribly embarrassing acting, and aside from an ugly redesign of Jason’s mask (it now looks welded to his face) the effects are great too. I just wish they’d had a few more runs at the script, or really doubled down on the pre-“Scream” meta references. Ah well.
Rating: thumbs down
PS – for those of you keeping score, this is the fourth “final” film in this series. Thanks, gorehounds, for keeping this dreck alive with your money.