Movies We Like
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Franchise films are a bittersweet realm. They stay fairly safe when they reach the prequels and sequels, but everything past that tends to get a little sloppy. The reasons are usually quite simple: either there were too many hands in the cookie jar in production, a bad team working on the film (director, casting, etc.) or, the plot just gets exhausted to the point of being tasteless and dull.
The Friday the 13th franchise is perhaps one of the most successful overall, coming in second to A Nightmare on Elm St. Up until the fifth or sixth film, you can pretty much find something amusing within each story. When you think about it, there are several films you can make about an impenetrable boogeyman who attacks oversexed (or in the case of this film, undersexed) teenagers who camp on his turf.
They'll probably keep smearing this franchise over the course of the next few generations, but out of the current one, this is my favorite. The first reason is the cast, the highlights of which include Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman. But the most important reason I enjoyed, and still enjoy the movie, is its ability to tease. It strings you along very slowly but rewards you with splendid kills. Perhaps the makers really did believe that this would be the movie to end the entire franchise. As a whole, it’s more interesting because it’s more psychological than the others. It’s also the movie in which Jason meets his match—a small child.
The film opens with a montage of all the other Friday the 13th films, further giving the first audiences the idea that this would be the finale. The opening sequence in itself is quite brilliant because it’s like a mini-movie, fluidly shifting from the best parts of the preceding films and ending in the final scene from Part III. They did the same sort of transition from Halloween to Halloween II, and it works really well. Anyway, the end of Part III gives the illusion that Jason was killed by an axe to the head. This movie picks up with his body being transported to a hospital and several TV broadcasts that headline the death of the person responsible for all the slayings at the lake. However, it doesn't take long for Jason to shake off his dizzy spell, kill two nurses, and become a threat.
We then leave Jason behind completely and follow a family. A newly divorced woman moves into a cabin with her responsible and pretty teenage daughter, Trish (Kimberly Beck), and her artistically gifted son, Tommy (Corey Feldman). Tommy offers a wonderful motif to the film because he designs his own ghoulish masks and seems to have a fascination with monsters.
A group of teenagers then offer the usual prey found in the other movies. They've rented the summer house next door to the family's and expect to have a good time—nowhere in their conversations does the name “Jason” even come up. For that reason, it takes a lot of the action away from Jason and turns the movie into a summer flick that of course ends disastrously. There are two girls in the group and four boys. The two girls have their love interests already among the group, which leaves Teddy and Jimmy (Crispin Glover) out of luck. That is until two beautiful twin girls (who miraculously haven't been killed yet) cross their path and everything seems balanced.
Then another character is introduced: the adult brother of one of the girls who was killed in the last film. He camps on the property and informs Trish that Jason is on the loose again after killing the nurses. So, as they scramble to keep count of her family's whereabouts when night falls, the drunk and horny teenagers next door get picked off one by one. When their bodies are discovered by Trish and the camper, they try to prepare the house for Jason's arrival. SPOILER ALERT: It all boils down to just Trish and Tommy in the end, who can barely keep Jason at arm’s length once he gets into the house. But unlike most damsels in distress, Trish fights and fights hard to keep little Tommy safe. Likewise, when she's in trouble, Tommy decides to fight the lug-headed Jason with a little psychology. He makes himself look like Jason did as a boy when he drowned, and while distracted, the two finally slay him. But little Tommy needs to make sure he's dead; he goes into a fit and starts hacking away at the body with the camper's machete. The final scene is him with the shaved head and sunken eyes giving the camera a creepy glare. END OF SPOILER.
I'm well aware that many people favor the earlier films, but I've always clung to this one. It's not just a slasher movie. It’s a teen comedy that grants a lot of laughs, and a lot of skin; it’s about family, and what family will do to keep each other safe that drunken teenagers won't do; it’s about post-traumatic stress and, in looking at the next film in which the boy grows up and follows in Jason's footsteps, how serial killers are made. If I'm not mistaken, it’s also the only film in which you see Jason's face up close, and it has the same chilling effect as one of the earlier films when you see him find his mask and put it on. Lastly, and best of all, it has Crispin Glover doing an epileptic dance that just might be considered cool nowadays. Highly recommended.