The crap continues
Every time I have plunked down the bucks for a Friday the 13th film, I have done so looking for brain-dead fun, hoping that just one time the teams behind these films would get it right. Yet each film in this never-ending series has earned my hatred, and Jason X is no exception.
This franchise stinks, and the fact that it has survived through 20 years and 10 films is a mystery to me. Slasher films can be fun, guilty pleasures (the first Halloween, Jeepers Creepers), but the Friday the 13th movies have always looked like crap, managed minimal scares and featured a boring monster in Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing dolt who kills attractive people for having sex and generally doing stupid things.
The film opens at the Crystal Lake Research Facility in the not-too-distant future, moments before Jason is to be stored in a cryogenic tank because nobody can figure out how to execute him. The plans are interrupted when some evil guy played by David Cronenberg (yes, David Cronenberg) decides to take Jason away for further experimentation. Jason predictably escapes, kills the ever-loving shit out of a few people, and then winds up frozen anyway, thanks to plucky facility employee Rowan (Lexa Doig).
A hole in Jason’s tank courtesy of his trusty machete causes freezing stuff to shoot out and turn Rowan into ice as well. They remain ice cubes until the 25th century, when future people find them, take them to their remarkably fake-looking spaceship and thaw them out. This gives Jason the chance for some outer space killings in low-budget settings, featuring some of the very worst special effects this side of your average Roger Corman film.
Jason X tries to pass itself off as some sort of self-parody, occasionally drifting into Scream-like satire territory. Had the film been a total spoof, an official entry in the series that was nothing but a big goof, it may have worked. Alas, writer Todd Farmer is only able to conjure up one or two decent jokes, so the remaining majority of the film aspires to be nothing but low-budget, sci-fi horror trash, a level on which it succeeds.
An example of how well this film could’ve worked comes toward the end, when Jason is placed into a virtual reality setting modeled after his old stomping grounds at Camp Crystal Lake. Two beautiful women in the simulation declare their love for premarital sex, and Jason’s reaction is predictable but funny. It’s a good giggle, but it’s the only truly inspired passage in the film.
As for the much-ballyhooed “upgrade,” it doesn’t occur until very late in the film, when we are far past the point of caring. The upgrade occurs when a dismembered Jason is regenerated, complete with a funkier-looking mask and stylish metal duds. Whether or not this is the look that will follow Jason into future installments is a question that scientists, scholars and intellectuals will never ponder because they are way above this crap.
There has been a long-rumored project that would pit Nightmare on Elm Street‘s Freddy Krueger against Jason in a slasher-celebrity death match movie. Freddy is far too cool to be slumming with Voorhees and should find more imposing foes, like Frosty the Snowman or the Campbell’s Soup kids.
At the screening I attended in San Francisco, some kids who were yelling at the screen were removed by police. This was disappointing to me, because their running commentary was the only thing entertaining about the latest Friday the 13th experience. In the case of Jason X, evil does not get an upgrade … it just gets another tiresome, amateurish rehash.