Sunday, March 23, 2014

Movie Review: Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday

After the box office flop that was Jason Takes Manhattan, Paramount decided to end it's run with the Friday movie series. It wasn't just because of disappointing run of Jason Takes Manhattan, it was because Paramount wanted to focus on bigger, better things since it was becoming a more profitable film company in terms of making academy award-winning films. So a couple of years later, the film series was picked up by New Line Cinema. This was, of course, a smart decision since New Line has ownership of Freddy and both the studios have been trying to pen a Freddy Vs. Jason movie for the past five years. Sean S. Cunningham, now a producer at New Line, set up a new idea for a Friday The 13th sequel instead since Wes Craven was already penning a 7th Nightmare On Elm Street movie to make up for the fiasco that was Freddy's Dead. It's been 13 years since his mega hit in 1980 and Sean S. Cunningham was, very publicly, embarrassed of how the series turned out. So, he decided to "end" the series, even though a Freddy Vs. Jason movie was just a mile away. Which gives me the burning question: Why pick up a movie series just to end it? Well, anyways, as I was saying, Sean wanted to find an inventive director to put the series in different direction. So, he recruited Adam Marcus, a friend of his son and who was FRESH out of film school. Was this a
good idea? No. No, it wasn't. It's one thing to have an ambitious film company who produce fantasy-laden horror films and another thing to have an even more ambitious director with no film experiences behind his belt.
And here we have Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. You want to know what I think about it? I don't know. I don't know what to think about this movie. It's very confusing and it leaves more questions than answers. This movie does have it's fans and yes, it's a watchable movie but it's still one of my least favorite of the Friday films.
First of all who the hell is Creighton Duke? There is no mention of this character in the earlier sequels and he just doesn't fit in the with the Friday The 13th mythology. And furthermore, how does he know of Jason's abilities, especially his body hopping one? (which I will discuss later) Oh but here's a topic that was quite debatable over the years.....Jason has a sister. Again, what is with the long lost relative plots? I just don't get it. I mean didn't Pamela say that Jason was her only child? I wish these people would stop ret conning storylines, It will only lead to plot holes and misguiding.
Oh but here's the real potboiler: what is with the body hopping? Okay, I can accept Jason having teleporting powers but this....this is just ridiculous. Ugh, I mean what were they thinking? And with that, I have nothing else to say.
Alright, I will give points to Adam Marcus for attempting to get the series into a different direction but at the same time, this is not a Friday the 13th film. The movies have always been trying to go into different directions yet still had the essence of a Friday the 13 film.
With it's plot holes and illogical sense of storytelling, I just can't put my finger on this one.

The majority of the cast is decent, especially the two leads and judging from the bad dialogue and stupid situations the characters are put in, the actors made it out pretty well, given what they're worked with.

John D. Lemay really stood out and he actually could convince you that he is a capable action star. As for the character, I liked that he is a regular Joe who happens to be in an unexplainable situation. There are some flaws to his character, he is mentioned to have been a dead-beat father who had made many mistakes in his life. But it all comes caving in once he is framed for murder, that's where he make a change for the better. The scene where he connects with his baby girl at the diner is a truly touching one and it shows that Steven knows what he has to do and try to be there for his family.

Just to add this, it's almost physically impossible for him to tackle a two-ton and considering Jason killed people with his bare hands, Steven is lucky he didn't get snapped in two.

Kari Keegan actually did a great job in her first major role. Although the character was underwritten, it was the actress herself that fleshed out the character, giving her this strong-wiled personality. There's really not much to say about Jessica since she is introduced halfway through the movie while much of the focus is on her mother Diane. She is one of the first or few final girls that isn't a teenager and is a mom. The filmmakers would later regret this decision because the character wasn't sexy as a mother. You know with stupid comments like that it shows how dumb the makers of this movie are.  I think her being a mother works because it has her fighting for her child other than her own life. But the character does do some stupid things like when she gets attacked by her possessed (current) boyfriend and once Steven saves her and explain what is going on, she flips out and doesn't believe him just when shit really hits the fan.

And here's another problem, SHE is the one who defeats Jason, even though she's really not the main character and there is no establishment of how she got her fighting moves. Just like Maggie in Freddy's Dead, she is a strong female character just not a very well-developed one.
Now to the two most important characters that are the most debatable:

Although Steven Freeman does a great job with the role considering what movie he's in, I don't know what was the purpose of the Creighton Duke character. There is no mention of him in the earlier films nor a reference. He just happens to be there, mainly so as a plot device. The script does explain the character's motivation of stopping Jason but in the shooting script they scrap it for some reason which doesn't develop the character in any way. He just comes off as some action hero knock-off with cheesy one-liners. The only person who knows of the Jason mythology is Tommy Jarvis; he was in three of the films, why not use him?

Erin Gray does alright but there were times where she was a little bland and it mostly had something to do with the filmmakers used her character. And in fact, she is an important character to the Jason mythology.....she is none other than....Jason sister! Dun! Dun! Dun! This was a pretty risky idea, knowing that in the first movie, Pamela outright states that Jason is her only son without any mention of a second one. My problem with this is there is no build up to it nor any mystery. Hell, Freddy's Dead used the whole long lost relative narrative much better and even that was executed horribly. They just thrown in the character without any explanation and the movie just wants us to accept it. Adam Marcus explains that Pamela Voorhees gave birth to Jason and Diana but had to give up one of them because she wasn't quite fit at time. But how do you give up one child to keep the other? I get the feeling that Adam Marcus gets himself confused. My theory is that she was a product of an affair Elias had since he was mean and abusive towards Pamela and this all happened before Pamela killed him or if Elias was still alive (if you count the scrapped Jason Lives cameo), maybe he got remarried. If the movie used this information I would've understand it more. And just as there is some build-up to the character, she is quickly killed off without any mention or resonance what so ever....
Now here are the more memorable characters:

I thought Joey B. was a pretty funny character. At first, I saw her as this irritating bitch but soon that was the charm about her. And the actress seems to be having fun in the role.

Then there's Leslie Jordan as Shelby. I have seen this actor in a lot movie and television shows but I would never stop to think that he would be in a Friday the 13th movie. He really show his comedic chops and steals the scenes alongside Joey B.

Robert played by Steven Culp is an asshole, plain and simple. Maybe even way above an asshole on sociopathic levels. He pretty much reveals his true colors by dialogue and that's pretty much the end of  him. His introduction is almost laughable. He is some sort of tabloid reporter who does stories on crimes apparently. But here's when things get ridiculous. He sends out a nationwide manhunt on national TV. How stupid is that? And eventually he does it for his own purposes. Which is even more stupid. But it's not like the writers gave a damn about this character anyway. But at least he rampages the rest of the movie possessed by Jason.

Last but not least you have the badass waitress. Sorry that I forgot her name. But I will give her the winning crown of Badass. This girl doesn't go without a fight and that's why she's awesome.

Finally, we get the debacle that is Jason....this is going to be a long one. First off, there is no exposition to his introduction. It's like the death by toxic waste in Jason Takes Manhattan didn't happened at all. The body swapping. What is with the body swapping? There is no rhyme or reason of Jason having this power (or any power, for that matter) in the previous movies. Apparently, Jason's mother was a witch who conjured up the necronomicon (that's from the evil dead movie series, people) and spilled the blood of the camp counselors to bring back her son rather than revenge. Well at least of what I assume. Again, this movie raises more questions other than answer them. We only get see the true form through a mirror in the eyes of his possessed victims. What? and for the first time in this movie series history, Jason speaks. Seriously, what the hell were these writers smoking? "Get The Hell Away From Her Ed" is his first real lines. Wow. Just Wow. But here's the real kick in the balls. Jason's true TRUE form is......

This demon crawly thing. So throughout all seven movies (with the exception of Mrs. Voorhees and Roy Burns in Part 5), Jason's true form was a demon creature the writers of this movie don't even explain. Ugh....and once he gets back to his regular form he come back with hockey mask and all. Stupid. Kane Hodder does what he does best but is barely in the Jason by the way. He does a few cameos here  and there but it's not worth mentioning. Then you have other characters playing "Jason" but it's just other actors trying to convey Kane Hodder signature moves. Even Kane Hodder himself wasn't comfortable with this.

The costume on Jason looks cheap. I mean it's something out of party city you could buy for $15.

And here we have the special effects and directing. I'm so sorry to say but this movie amateurish. Well, that's what you get when you have a first-time director. However, at least, the special effects are okay though most of them really cheapens the movie. Again, what is with the body hopping concept? I would say it would work better as a stand-alone film but it will only come off as The Hidden/Evil Dead rip off.
What was with the whole mystical aspect? The magical dagger, the stoned hands coming from the ground, the shiny glowy  things appearing from Jason body source....AGAIN, this raises questions than answering them.
Now for some trivia. The first draft involved Jason and street gangs  in LA. It's as stupid as it sounds. The test audiences complained there wasn't any t and a (what a surprise).

So the pointless scene of the three teens going camping and the two of three getting it on, which leads us to one of the most graphic sexual and violent scene in the movie.
John D. Lemay is the first and only actor to appear both the Friday the 13th TV series and the movie series, that if you count John Shepard, who did an episode on the TV series.
This was the second lowest grossing Friday The 13th movie and pretty much a disappointment to the fans.
I just didn't care for this film. I don't hate it like I used to but then again it's not something that's on the top of my list. This is not a Friday The 13th film at all. New Line just didn't care. If they actually put more thought into this, get a more competent, experienced director, and cleaned up the script a bit, this movie would have much more potential. Sean S. Cunningham would later regret this decision and rightfully so.
This movie is just a confusing mess and there's just nothing more I can say about it.
My Last Word: If you like it, good for  you. If you don't, you did me a big favor.


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