Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

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"Holy Jesus jumping Christmas shit!"

Oct 29th, 2011

We as viewers always make light of the fact that in the world of film nothing is ever truly final. The truth is despite the exacerbated drones of "they're making another one?" deep down no one really wants a franchise to end. Friday the 13th has frequently tried to end the series (Part 3 was also meant to be the last) but because ofoverwhelming audience figures and public demand the movies continued. Final Chapter this is less the last instalment (despite original intent) and more the end of Jason's human life.

The Final Chapter was to give us the death of Jason once and for all yet the character was pretty much given a definitive end in the last movie (I never questioned if he'd survive). As the first two sequels ended with vague dream sequences you could justify returning in a narrative sense or just for a bit of clarity but Friday part III lodged an axe in Jason's cranium. In my book means he should be dead.

Final chapter picks up almost immediately after the credits hit the last film (meaning the last couple of movies took place over a couple of days. Is it actually Sunday the 15th?). Jason survived the axe to the head (maybe the hockey mask softened the blow?) and awakens in the morgue. Shifting focus away from the camps again we get two woodland houses that get in the way of Jason's trek back to Crystal Lake. In one our typical teenage partygoers but in a change to the formula the other has a local family by the name of Jarvis. A family that will change the course of the Friday films and Jason's everlasting legacy.

Final Chapter is without doubt the best Friday movie of them all at least in terms of what this series set out to achieve (while I prefer some of the later films for that extra layer of cheese). The films before this one were more experimental as they attempted to define what direction the franchise needed to take. With a defined villain, interesting characters and top notch special effects the series hasn't changed (aside from part 5)from this point on.

Its rinse and repeat time with a couple of extras in terms of plot. Jason lays waste to some promiscuous teenagers, it's a given, yet by throwing in the Jarvis family we get a new dynamic. The series had developed into a slaughterfest where you had little to no investment in the characters. The Jarvis troupe are innocent bystanders(at least by Jasons standards) which adds more terror as they really don't actually deserve death..

Not that I'm advocating the murder of teenagers that engage in nocturnal activities but as a morality tale there are rules. The youths here are an unlikable bunch (including Crispen Glover in an early role) but it's fun to watch these saps bring about their inevitable doom. Drug use, alcohol consumption and gratuitous amounts of nudity it's no wonder Jason sniffed them out so quickly. A lot of criticism is thrown the way of bad acting but this is one of those times when the terribleness works just right (so bad its good).

While we have the traditional bunch the Jarvis bunch are a brilliant addition and actually feel like fully formed characters rather than the usual one dimetional stereotypes. Corey Feldman (don't roll your eyes this is the kid version we all like) plays Tommy a 10 year old boy geek who is obsessed with crafting monster masks (in homage to Tom Savini) and the odd case of spying on naked teenagers. Having a child in a horror movie always ramps things up (Halloween 4 and 5) and its fortunate that Feldman is a likable (that's not a joke) protagonist. It may be an strange choice but I really enjoyed the ingenious climax when Tommy faces Jason head on.

Trish Jarvis (Kimberly Beck) is one of my favourite survivor girls in that she is sympathetic with a non-grating goody two shoes role ). Her character also serves a brilliant purpose that hammers home the moral message of no sex before marriage. Her character begins to succumb to peer pressure as she tries to become incorporated into the teens next door. As the audience we are aware of the fate that awaits the nearby house and will her to maintain her virginal attributes. The only horror flick where I wished for prudish behaviour.

Another plus in branding this the Final chapter they managed to lure back Tom Savini (he produced the effects for the first flick) who only return to bring Jason his doom. The Friday franchise has been no slouch but Savini is a master when is come to special effects and brings the most amazing practical work to life. As the deaths are the main focus the innovative creations make the film appear to have a larger budget than it really has. Some of the best effects are saved for the conclusion allowing for the monster to be put down in style (or at least a couple of years).

We also get our first Ahab (I have to thank the Rise of Leslie Vernon for that term) with a character on the hunt for Jason in retaliation for the murder of his sister (Erich Anderson as Rob Dier). I like this idea but wish it had been one of the survivors of the other films as it would have made the film feel more "final". Unfortunately the character is underused poses no real threat (and laughable the conclusion is) to our regular menace. Shame.

Jason is given a slight redesign and is more reminiscent of the zombie incarnation of the later series. It's a good look even though it goes against the idea that the character is still essentially human (why bring logic into a series that has already been quite blasé about continuity). The kills he performs are fantastically memorable (my favourite includes a tumble from a window) and have an enhanced brilliance from being able to actually show Jason and his new Hockey Mask in full view.

I also like the fact that he actually has the chance to chase people down rather than just popping out and performing a quick kill. The only downside would have to be the characters ability to teleport for jump scares. It's kept rather low key here but the base is set for some rather implausible moments in the later sequels.

The final moments of this one are absolutely thrilling as our heros decide to turn on their aggressor. I won't ruin it as but it's a perfect conclusion that takes into account both Jason and Tommy's established backgrounds (at this stage anyway). While it wasn't the end of Jason's legacy if it had been it would have been a perfect place to have left things.

It's hard to argue with fans when they say this is the perfect Jason flick. I love to revisit this one but there a few later movies I prefer for various reasons that you can read in each separate review. The movies that follow are without doubt just copies on the formula set by this film. Friday the 13th part 4 despite being classed as the final is actually the perfect start to Jasons Legacy.

Other reviews in the series

Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 3
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Friday The 13th Part VII The New Blood
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Jason Goes To Hell
Jason X
Freddy vs. Jason
Friday the 13th (2009)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: Joseph Zito
Screenplay: Barney Cohen
Released: 1984
Rating: 18
Starring: Kimberly Beck
Crispin Glover
Corey Feldman