We're back in "not a proper movie" territory, I'm afraid. It's the worst Friday the 13th instalment to date, with no gore worth mentioning, an annoying story and characters who are one-dimensional even by the standards of this series. It doesn't have a script. It has a fistful of cliches being thrown on the screen, basically copying other movies with no apparent awareness of why those other movies might be doing what they do. Even when we reached the good stuff at the end, I was bored.
Personally I blame the lack of Tommy Jarvis. He's my magic talisman. I didn't much like 1-3 (no Tommy), but then I enjoyed 4-6 (Tommy). He's gone again now and the series desperately misses the stability he provided. He's the nearest Friday the 13th ever got to having an equivalent of the Halloween
franchise's Dr Loomis and assorted Myers family members. He wasn't Donald Pleasence, but he was okay. I liked him. Admittedly here we have a replacement protagonist, played by Lar Park Lincoln, who even has a similar background of being an inmate from a mental hospital, but she's stuck in a whiny "my doctor doesn't believe me" subplot. She's also telekinetic, since this was originally going to be a Jason vs. Freddy movie, so she turns into Carrie for the last twenty minutes of the movie and fills Jason full of nails, hangs him from the ceiling, drenches him in gasoline and so on. It's as if Tommy and Freddy have been combined into a single character less interesting than either of them.
The script is a joke, although there might be some excuse for that. Apparently the original writer Daryl Haney was sacked after his agent contacted the executive producer and demanded a big pay increase before he did any more work on the project. Haney hadn't told his agent to do any such thing. The screenplay was finished by someone unknown, possibly the tea lady, under the name of Manuel Fidello. The results are a waste of time. There's a subplot involving Lincoln and then a non-plot involving teenagers so underwritten that even Lincoln's romantic interest displays not a single character trait throughout the film. He's the second lead, by the way. The teens are all shallow and annoying, apart from the bitch who's been allowed some personality and is thus shallow, annoying and a bitch. They pair off with each other for sex so formulaically that you'd think we were on Noah's ark, but even when they're in bed together you'll have little chance of remembering who's who. The script certainly isn't giving you any clues.
Meanwhile Lincoln is here for therapy with her mother and her doctor, because ten years ago she used her telekinetic powers to kill her father and now she's still dealing with her guilt. Predictably she's not believed when she sees Jason climb out of Crystal Lake and go off on a slasher spree. Her doctor thinks she's delusional. "Your mind is manufacturing hallucinations." Wow, that annoyed me. It's not just the fact that it's a cliche, but that you wouldn't think claiming to have seen a strange man was the kind of thing that would get your doctor calling for the straitjacket. We eventually learn that this doctor had been covering up evidence because he'd only ever been interested in Lincoln's psychic powers, but that's just swapping one unconvincing cliche for another. Why didn't Lincoln's mother challenge the doctor's diagnoses? Why does the doctor carry on as normal when he knows there's a slasher on the loose? Why, on finding a bloody machete at a murder scene, must we presume that he sneaked back at some later point, stole the machete, washed off the blood and then stored it somewhere incriminating instead of, say, calling the police? I'd have laughed if he'd ended up in the electric chair for that.
We're obviously meant to hate both the bitch and the doctor, but personally I couldn't even bring myself to do that. The bitch is convincingly bitchy, yes, but the doctor's a script contrivance rather than a character and I didn't believe in him.
The production is similarly sloppy. For the first time in a Friday the 13th film, Jason walks slowly after someone who's running and kills them. Oi, Jason. Are you Michael Myers or something? Later he tops that by managing to walk up behind someone who a few seconds earlier had been running away from him. There's also a shot where a dead body flops into view at exactly the moment when someone walks past, which is admittedly a slasher cliche but here seems particularly stupid because it had been up a tree. Oh, and there's a False Scare by Cat so bad that it only occurs to you later that you were meant to be frightened.
In fairness, there are a couple of entertaining moments. The personal penis enlarger was funny, while you've got to laugh at the teenager who's supposedly dolled herself up to look sexy. Wow. I know it's the 1980s, but even so. She's got Herman Munster shoulder pads and hair that could repel a nuclear strike. She looks like a drag queen who used to be a professional footballer and I'd found her much more attractive earlier on in her nerd spectacles. That's it for the good stuff, I'm afraid. The telekinetic Lincoln-Jason battle at the finale has its fans and I have to admit that it's at least livelier than the rest of the film, but by that point personally I'd been left behind. I was a lost cause. It didn't help that this twenty-minute sequence is built around a bunch of "Is Jason dead?" "No he isn't!" situations that got old somewhere around... oooh, the zeroth.
No, I tell a lie. There's nudity. That was okay. However my main thought during the skinny-dipping scene was that the poor actress must have been close to death in that water. It's the middle of the night and they're filming in mid-January at the North Pole. I exaggerate, but not by much.
Even the gore is rubbish. The deaths are throwaway, although I liked (despite being unconvinced by) the sleeping bag kill. This might be the most heavily censored Friday the 13th film and apparently there's a super-gory bootleg out there somewhere, but the director John Carl Buechler has complained frequently over the years about all the edits demanded by the MPAA to avoid an X rating.
Is there anything else positive I can say about this film? Ummmm... two of the teenagers aren't white. For this franchise, that's a step forward. It's the debut of fan favourite Kane Hodder in the role of Jason, but personally I couldn't see the difference between him and any of the others. (Apparently John Carl Buechler was impressed by him eating live worms on the set of Prison (1988) and so gave him this role. He did all his own stunts here and one of them nearly killed him.) Oh, and the Jason make-up is excellent. That's it, though. I have now described everything good about this movie. Personally I think the whole thing's summed up by the scene in which Anonymous Boyfriend tells the bitch that a bunch of their friends have been murdered. Watch the bitch's reactions. For crying out loud, at least pretend to be trying to convince me! This film is worthless. I don't object so much to the fact that it's bad, but far worse is the extent to which it's pointless and perfunctory. You might enjoy the "Carrie vs. Jason" finale more than me, though.