After Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter delivered the franchise’s highest grosses, Paramount ditches Jason in an attempt to reboot the franchise. Bad idea.
This entry follows Tommy, the boy last seen hacking Jason apart with a machete. Now seventeen, he’s spent the last six years in a state mental institution. This rare bit of plausibility sets the film around 1990.
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 violent outbursts.
The setting is, of course, a remote camp. This time, a halfway house for troubled teens.
The plot kicks into gear after one teen murders another with an axe. After that, an unseen assailant begins murdering teens, staff, and pretty much everyone else.
Like the original, this entry withholds the killer’s identity until the finale. We’re offered several red herrings, making this film more a mystery-thriller than a 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 proffers an unsatisfying explanation via some awkward exposition that feels like an afterthought.
But time has been kind. Knowing the franchise rights itself, fans can laugh at the nonsense plot, Tommy’s non-dialogue, 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 like-minded crowd.
That said, it’s no surprise Paramount resurrected Jason for the sequel.
I may have been too hard on this entry. Showing it to a friend who’s never seen it, I found myself entertained. Despite the lackluster finale, I enjoyed the blatant attempts to telegraph the culprit—and his resemblance to Lon Chaney Jr. This, along with the heightened sleaze, made it play as a goofy, near-satire of the slasher genre. If only it had retained the rumored gory kills and excessive nudity left on the cutting room floor.