By Frank Pittarese
The One in Space
We start off in the near future (very near, considering the film’s 2001 release date). The chronologically previous movie, Freddy vs. Jason, would have taken place around 2008. That one left Jason “dead” (again) in the waters of Crystal Lake. But now we find him shackled and under guard at the Crystal Lake Research Facility. They built a whole place just for our boy. There, scientists are studying Jason’s ability to regenerate, but he’s too much of a loose cannon. So the plan is to put him into cryogenic suspension — freeze him — and make him someone else’s future problem.
But Jason is in a mood about being locked up, so he escapes and runs amok. After killing some folks, he accidentally breaches the cryo-unit, putting himself — and Rowan LaFontaine, the facility’s project leader — on ice for awhile. A very long while.
Flash-forward to the year 2455. Jason and Rowan have been popsicles for 455 years. Earth (a.k.a. Earth Prime, ™ DC Comics) is an uninhabitable wasteland, a dead planet. A team of young scientists — archeology students on a field trip — discover the frozen pair and take them back to their spaceship. Rowan is revived, but Jason is assumed dead. That’s a big mistake, especially since Future People know all about Jason Voorhees who “killed nearly 200 people and disappeared without a trace” in the distant past.
As expected, Jason thaws out and starts attacking everyone in sight. The scientists don’t stand a chance. The students are helpless. Even a squad of soldiers (swiped directly from James Cameron’s Aliens) get wasted by a very cranky Mr. Voorhees. The team’s original plan was to reconnect with the space station Solaris before moving on to Earth Two (also ™ DC Comics), but that goes haywire when Jason causes the whole station to explode, leaving our remaining characters trying to survive long enough to escape their failing ship.
Luckily, a female android named Kay-Em (also swiped directly from James Cameron’s Aliens) is upgraded to super-tough Terminator mode (swiped directly from James Cameron’s Terminator). Kay-Em manages to dismember and semi-decapitate Jason, but the big lug falls onto the med-labs healing unit. Oops.
Nanites swarm all over his bits and pieces, fixing what’s left of him and…improvising the rest. The result is Über-Jason, an unstoppable cyborg behemoth — vastly improved, but still uglier than a baboon’s butt. Chaos ensues: a countdown to the ship’s destruction, a hole in the hull, a space walk. All of of these sci-fi movie tropes survive into 2455, so we can rest easy, knowing they’re safe.
This time, Jason seems to be permanently defeated — blasted into space and burning up on reentry in Earth Two’s orbit. It’s really over. I mean, sure, a couple of teens necking in the woods of Earth Two see a shooting star, and Jason’s broken mask splashes down in a lake. But this is the last sequel before the reboot, right? And the reboot is its own separate universe, isn’t it?
(It’s not and it isn’t. The “reboot” is in-continuity as an actual SEQUEL to Jason X. Really. I mean it!)
I know I’m supposed to hate this movie. But I don’t. It’s goofy and the CGI is shaky, but for some reason, I’m on board with these one-off “experimental” Friday the 13th movies. Telekinetic girl? Cool. Body-jumping? Alrighty. Jason in space?? Gimme!
Yes, it’s incredibly derivative and feels like a syndicated sci-fi show from the mid-1990s. Camp, intentional or not, abounds. The acting is hokey. But it has an abundance of post-Scream, self-referential charm and a pretty quick pace. Kane Hodder takes his final turn as Jason here, and still pulls off an effective performance despite the rather clunky Über-Jason suit. This entry gets a lot of flack — like Goes to Hell — for going off-book, but ultimately, it’s refreshing and fun, so it totally has my support.
Other things worth noting…
Somewhere between Freddy vs. Jason and now, Jason found himself a new mask. This one has the red stripes — and even the Part 3 crack — but the nose is more pointed. I guess he found his look and he’s sticking with it.
The head doctor at the Crystal Lake Research Facility is played by director David Cronenberg, who REQUESTED to be in this movie. Except for The Fly, I’m generally not a fan of his, but this scores him some nerd points. He also directed an episode of Friday the 13th: The Series (season one’s “The Faith Healer”).
Rowan says that the “first time they executed” Jason was in 2008. This totally syncs up with my timeline, which places Jason Goes to Hell in that year and leads into FvJ. At the start of Goes to Hell, Jason is killed by federal agents. To me, that qualifies as an execution. It’s all accidental, I’m sure — I don’t think anyone involved in these movies gave continuity a minute’s thought — but my timeline turned out to be solid. I’ll put it on my resume!
Favorite moment: Jason’s holodeck visit to 1980 Crystal Lake is comedy gold.
The So-Called Reboot
This is it. The twelfth and final (for now) Friday the 13th movie. This is the one that everyone calls a “remake” or a “reboot.” I call it a sequel — a sequel set decades after Jason X. But I’ll get to that soon.
We start in flashback. It’s June 13th, 1980 (which was indeed a Friday). A “Camp Counselor” (that’s what she’s called in the credits, so she’s NOT officially Alice) is in mid-confrontation with a recast Mrs. Voorhees. Little Jason watches from the woods as his mom is decapitated. After Not-Alice leaves, he sneaks out, steals Mom’s machete, her locket, and her head. It’s nice to have keepsakes. “Kill for mother,” says Mrs. Voorhees in Little Jason’s screwy mind, and he scampers on his merry, deformed way.
Then we have a classic Friday time-jump to Crystal Lake, 2009. It’s present day (the movie was released in February of that year). A small group of college kids are hiking through the woods for a night of camping — although two of them are more interested in a massive weed-crop nearby.
Having entered Jason’s territory, the kids get what they get — which, to be clear, is viciously murdered. Or so it seems… The best thing about this pre-title sequence is that, at 25 minutes long, it feels like a short film; a mini-Friday the 13th movie before the main feature. And get this — it’s Sack-Head Jason! My favorite! There’s some excitement, some drama, boobies for those who like them, a few gruesome kills, and then…
Time-jump! But it’s a small one of just six months to where the real story starts. Sam from Supernatural has come to Crystal Lake in search of his sister Whitney, who was one of those aforementioned college kids. He meets some locals and an entirely new batch of victims. Most of those victims, though, are very, very annoying. The only exceptions are Killer Frost from The Flash, who seems nice and sympathetic, and her boyfriend Trent, who is the King of Assholes. Trent will be important later, so remember him.
All these dumb characters, along with Killer Frost from The Flash, are staying at Asshole Trent’s summer cabin, smack in the middle of the woods. For Jason, it’s his version of Fresh Direct. One by one, Jason meets and greets these dunces. Not a single one of them is a loss. Not since Part V has there been such a crappy crew of corpses. The worst are the “comic relief” characters. We get two of those, along with their relentless series of beer, pot, and masturbation jokes. You will cheer when they die.
One otherwise forgettable kill results in Jason finding his most important prop, and he upgrades from a potato sack to his iconic hockey mask. He looks at himself in the mirror afterward, trying to decide if he’s cute. (He isn’t.)
Anyway, surprise! Jason didn’t kill Whitney, the sister of Sam from Supernatural. He’s got her chained up in his underground lair like he’s Buffalo Bill. Remember that locket Jason stole from his mother’s corpse? It contains two photos, one of Baby Jason, and one of Mom — and Whitney is the spittin’ image of young Mrs. Voorhees. (This is because the actress playing Whitney posed for that photograph. No flies on me.) Now, amidst all the slaughter, Sam from Supernatural and Killer Frost from The Flash have to go rescue Whitney. But Jason has built an entire network of underground tunnels beneath Camp Crystal Lake — because that’s what you do when you don’t have cable or a PS4. A subterranean melee ensues, with running and screaming and stabbing and death, as they try to free this dumb girl (who looks a lot like the original Pink Ranger) from captivity.
In the end, Jason is defeated (or “defeated”), which is what usually happens. But while there’s a hint of more to come, outside of fan films, there hasn’t been a new Friday the 13th movie in over a decade. All sorts of court battles have prevented a thirteenth entry from getting off the ground. That’s unfortunate (because I want more) but maybe also a blessing (because I don’t trust them not to screw things up). Guess we’ll see what happens.
There was a run of these horror remakes/reboots around this time, and tonally, this sits comfortably alongside some of the better ones, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (also directed by Marcus Nispel) or The Hills Have Eyes. Apart from a couple of aggressively irritating comic relief characters, the entire tone is deadly serious, if not flat-out grim. There are no little winks here, and although references to previous entries are sprinkled throughout. Jason is taken seriously, which results in a pretty gritty viewing experience. It’s well-shot, energetic, occasionally suspenseful, and some sometimes thrilling — and it doesn’t feel cheap.
This new Jason (Derek Mears) is no Kane Hodder, but he feels imposing and dangerous, while still human — and he’s fast! I like him.
The extended “Killer Cut,” which is my go-to, runs about ten minutes longer than the theatrical version, and despite some pointless conversational padding, it features a somewhat exciting escape sequence, slightly more vicious kills, and maybe a pinch more sex than the movie really needs. At 1 hour and 45 minutes, this cut is longest movie in the series. Jason Takes Manhattan comes in second, at 1 hour and 40 minutes, because it only exists to punish us.
Anyway, this “update” was supposed to be a fresh start. A reboot leading to more films…
Except it isn’t a reboot. I’ll explain.
A major plot point in Jason X was that Earth is dead, and what’s left of humanity has relocated to Earth Two. At the end of that film, we only see a tiny bit of it: a patch of woods and a lake, plus a couple of teens. My theory is that this movie takes place on that planet: Jason X’s Earth Two. It doesn’t LOOK like the future, nobody ACTS like it’s the future, but the way I see it, just getting everyone to this new planet was a drain on scientific and financial resources. Essentially, in order to survive, the people of 2455 had to become “pioneers,” in a way, roughing it out in a new frontier. For them, that didn’t mean living in log cabins or riding horses. They “roughed it” by abandoning their expensive tech for an early 21st Century lifestyle. They use simple technology (cars and cell phones) and live in average, no-tech homes. By the time this movie takes place, it’s a generation or two — or even three — after the relocation. For the kids in this movie, who only grew up knowing this “21st Century” environment, this is normal life for them (which is why the space stuff is never addressed).
Then we get to Jason. At the end of Jason X, he essentially became a shooting star, burning up as he fell from orbit. I think he DID die, as he’s died before. But the Powers That Be…the forces of Hell…whatever you want to call the supernatural powers that guided him (and resurrected him) all those times…they deemed that the universe MUST have a Jason. Hell’s agent of death must walk the Earth. So to achieve that, Pamela Voorhees was born (again), had a child who “drowned” (again), and she sought revenge (again). And that’s how Jason — this reborn Jason, infused with a killer instinct from his previous existence — came to be. (This also syncs with why the camp counselor who kills Mrs. Voorhees this time isn’t Alice. Alice doesn’t matter in the bigger equation.)
It’s out there, I know. It’s a reach, I KNOW. But there’s also this…
Remember Asshole Trent? (I told you to remember him.) He spends every moment in this movie being an absolutely relentless dick. Asshole Trent is played by actor Travis Van Winkle. Travis Van Winkle also played an asshole named Trent in the first Transformers movie. Both Transformers and this Friday the 13th were Micheal Bay productions, hence the connection. With that in mind…are the two Trents the SAME Trent? If so, this Friday takes place in a world where advanced technology, alien robots, and all kinds of sci-fi shit actually exists. It’s entirely possible that Transformers took place on Earth Two, a generation or two after the relocation from Earth Prime. Now, a couple of years after the Autobots fought the Decepticons, we pick up on (and — spoiler alert — end) Asshole Trent’s story.
Okay, okay, I’m not sure even I buy my own patch for this. But the idea of a Friday reboot rather than a sequel really bugs me, and when I saw a way to “fix” it, I wasn’t gonna let it slide. And it does track. Sort of. So yep, this is the 11th sequel. You’re welcome.
That’s a wrap on these lengthy Friday the 13th reviews. If you’ve read them all, or if you’ve only read one or two, thanks for checking them out. Maybe I’ll tackle another franchise someday. I’ve been itching for a Resident Evil rewatch lately…