Jason X (2002)
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"I may be insane, but at least I have the sense to wear protective facial gear, when I'm swinging this chain around like a mad man!"
Those of us that actually admit to liking the Friday the 13th franchise are usually greeted with a look of absolute disgust. Recently, I went to Indio Ca. to catch the Coachella Arts and Music Festival. On the way, my buddy Kyle and I stopped in Las Vegas, at which point I suggested we see the new Jason X in a THX equipped theater. Although I'm sure he thought I was out of my damn mind for being interested in such a film, he humored me nonetheless. Of course about half way through the horror epic, he ducked into the casino and dropped some money at the tables.
My strange infatuation with Friday the 13th goes back to the early 80's when the first film was released. Now I am a horror film junkie, and I'm the first to admit that this series is a pale imitation inspired by the genius that is John Carpenter's Halloween. Still, through the years I have grown quite fond of the films and look at the character of Jason as an icon. While Jason Vorhees has no motivation whatsoever (he is merely a killing machine hell bent on murdering anyone he comes into contact with), I've always been somewhat amused by his creative killing methods. Don't get me wrong! I am very much sane, but to me, these movies are very entertaining in a goofy sort of way. So much in fact, that I even wrote a screenplay for a Friday the 13th film back in the late 80's just for kicks.
It's been over twenty years since Jason and his mother Pamela started wreaking havoc on the visitors of Camp Crystal Lake. Jason X adds a nutty twist. This movie takes place in the future and finds a field trip crew landing on a now uninhabitable Earth. While touring through a research facility, they find a cryogenically frozen Jason (Kane Hodder reprising the role for the third time). Like a bunch of morons, they take the hockey-masked killer aboard their spacecraft. Shortly thereafter, Jason defrosts and returns to his wicked ways. Along the way, he even gets into a little scuffle with film maker David Cronenberg (The Fly, Dead Ringers).
What's most amusing about this latest sequel, is it's hilarious premise. The film makers know they are dealing with a series that has been beat into the ground repeatedly, so they've decided to have fun with it. Jason X isn't so much a sequel as it is a spoof of it's own ridiculous mythology. And fans of the series will be happy to know that this picture does contain stupid characters engaging in seemingly nonsensical sex acts. After all, what would a Friday the 13th be without gratuitous copulation?
Director James Isaac has created the best looking Friday the 13th. The sets are impressive, and most of the picture was shot in digital. What hasn't changed? Pretty much everything else. Isaac has populated this picture with familiar Friday the 13th characters. This is to say that they are all stock and very uninteresting. It should also be noted that the performances here, in typical Friday the 13th fashion, are hardly convincing. Composer Harry Manferdini (who's scored the whole series) is given brand new terrain but displays how limited he actually is with this boring, laughable score (with exception of his signature trademark; chhhhh, chhhh, chhhh...haaaaa, haaaa, haaaaa that seems almost as recognizable as John Williams' Jaws theme).
The Jason X story line itself is rehashed Aliens and even contains bits and pieces of other sci-fi projects such as Bladerunner and Star Trek the Next Generation. It is painfully obvious that Isaac is a big fan of James Cameron and Ridley Scott. But let's face it. He is a far cry from those legendary showman. Isaac has a long way to go. At present, his directing style is clumsy to say the least. While Jason X is deliberately silly, Isaac had an opportunity to do something creative here. Alas, there is zero tension and zero scares. The mid section of this picture is extremely sluggish, but the first and final acts make the movie moderately enjoyable and are extremely light in tone. In fact, this entry is by far the most tame in the series.
While Jason X isn't without it's charms (there's a great gimmick in which Jason returns to the Camp Crystal Lake of yesteryear via a Star Trek type holodeck), and continues to strive for murdering method excellence (both a freaky liquid nitrogen sequence and a duplicate of Jason's all time best kill are one for the record books) it never manages to make full use of it's silly plot. Instead, the movie becomes quite dull in series of poorly executed scenes that are unable to scare or shock. Everyone reading is probably wondering why I'd be so long winded with this review. After all, it's just a dumb slasher flick.
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