There’s a lesson here.
I came to Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood with an open mind. Sure, I’d heard rumblings it was bad, but the masses can be wrong.
The story opens with seven-year-old Tina standing outside a house on Crystal Lake. Inside, we hear her parents fighting. Mom’s yelling at Dad, saying he promised he wouldn’t drink so much. Dad’s smacking Mom and telling her to shut up. It aims for drama but plays as caricature.
Tina runs down to the lake, walks down a short pier, and gets into a small fishing boat. She motors out to the middle of the lake.
Dad comes running out of the house1. He yells for her to come back. Mom comes out and joins in the yelling. Dad advances down the pier.
Tina gives Dad the stink-eye of death and the pier starts shaking. Not a rumble, but a full-on cartoonish wobble. With the pylons jutting several feet into the air, it resembles a carnival ride gone haywire.
The pier crumbles into the lake, taking Dad with it.
We flash-forward to a seventeen-year-old2 Tina returning to Crystal Lake along with her mother. Her smarmy psychiatrist, Dr. Crews, insists Tina confront her father’s death by revisiting the scene.
Tina and her mother arrive at the lake house. They find Dr. Crews waiting.
Next door is an obligatory house full of teens.
There’s a lot of over-emoting and dues ex machina that culminates in Tina hurling flower pots at Jason with her mind.
Okay, so the masses were right. Sitting through this was a chore. Like the song says: Sometimes, bad is bad. Lesson learned.
It should have been better. The script borrows its setup from the franchise’s best entry, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984). And Kane Hodder brings a hulking physicality to his performance as Jason.
But the film tacks on a mill stone subplot involving telekinetic Tina, her mother, and Dr. Crews that sinks the movie. More than once, I ached to fast-forward through these scenes. They aren’t just bad. They’re screaming baby on an airplane bad. Painful for everyone involved.
I don’t fault the performers; the script does them no favors. Consider Tina. She’s an ineffectual protagonist who spends most of the film in histrionics. The worst kind of final girl. When the other teens take an instant dislike to her, we’re on their side. And speaking of those teens, they’re just fodder. None of them register as individuals and they have no chemistry together.
Worst of all, the film takes itself far too seriously. The black humor of Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI (1986) is gone. So is the manic campiness of Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985). Instead, we suffer through scenes alternating between idle boredom and overwrought melodrama.
When Jason offs a character, it’s a relief. Not because it breaks some nonexistent tension, but because we’re one step closer to the film’s end. In Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, it’s the audience, not Jason’s quarry, that suffers.
Setting this entry in the then-future of 2001. I wonder how many fans realized this back in 1988. ↩
Jason ended the prior film chained to the bottom of Crystal Lake. The script doesn’t try to explain how Tina’s telekinesis revives him. In his review on Horror Movie A Day, Brian Collins speculates the telekinesis aspect was a response to the higher grossing A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. ↩
The movie should end here. Tina resurrects Jason and passes out. Jason dismembers her unconscious body. But no. Jason marches past her and both houses. He goes a few miles up a dark road to off a pair of teens before circling back to continue his rampage. ↩