After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) delivered the series’s highest grosses, Paramount made an odd decision. They ditched Jason and tried to reboot the franchise.
Friday the 13th: The New Beginning follows Tommy, the boy we last saw hacking Jason apart with a machete. He’s seventeen now, having spent the previous six years in a state mental institution. This rare bit of plausibility sets the film in 1990, give or take a year.
Despite being the nominal lead, Tommy's superficial to the plot and says under two-dozen words throughout the film. His scenes consist of him either looking confused or erupting in sudden violent outbursts.
The setting is, of course, a remote camp. This time, a halfway house for troubled teens meant to ease their re-entry into society.
The plot kicks into gear after one teen murders another with an axe then disappears into the surrounding woods. Following that, an unseen assailant begins murdering teens, staff, and pretty-much everyone else.
Harkening back to the original Friday the 13th (1980), this entry withholds the killer’s identity until the finale. We’re offered several red-herrings, making this film more mystery-thriller than monster movie.
But the execution is sloppy. The script introduces characters then kills them in the same scene. Several performances veer well into camp. One character even dies trapped in a graffiti-covered outhouse after eating some spicy enchiladas.
Worse still, the killer’s eventual reveal elicits groans instead of gasps. The script offers an explanation via some awkward exposition, but it’s unsatisfying.
But time has been kind. Knowing the franchise rights itself, fans can laugh at the nonsense plot, Tommy’s non-dialog, and the hammy performances. I cannot recommend Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, yet I can't wholly condemn it either. Like any comically bad movie, it's best viewed with a crowd that knows what to expect.
That said, it’s no surprise Paramount brought Jason back for the sequel, Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986).