Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning


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"I said I know who it is "

Oct 30th, 2011

It's commendable when a franchise attempts to try something new as it keeps things fresh and exciting. The problem is if you change too much from the established cannon fans will reject it and it will be doomed to failure (Halloween 3). A new beginning is a strange experience to behold as it has all the trademarks of the series (high body count, naked teens) yet something was missing and before you say it, it wasn't Jason.

I don't dislike this film and enjoy it for the trash it is but make no bones about it Friday part 5 was a bad movie. There are numerous reasons why this film fails and oddly many of them amuse me to no end. Bad casting, poor tone but let's start with the plot.

Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) is now a teenager suffering from recurring nightmares of Jason returning from the grave. Any 10 year old kid who witnessed their mother slaughtered by a near unstoppable killing machine is bound to be a little fucked up and as such Tommy has spent his life post Jason bouncing from one foster home to the next. Catching up with him as he enters his latest home for distressed teens we find out that some git is actually offing the kids one by one. Has Jason returned from the grave? Has Tommy finally snapped? Or is this a copycat killer?

A New Beginning was originally planned to star Corey Feldman in the the role of Tommy but due to scheduling conflicts (he was filming The Goonies at the time) he was only available for a cameo appearance. After being slightly retooled we received a film that was intended to send the franchise in a new direction but was slightly misguided.

I like the idea of seeing the fall out of what happened after the credits begin on a slasher. While we get the "happy" ending as the lone survivor stands victorious we eventually realise that the hero now has to cope with the massive trauma from such an event. Friday 5 begins promising enough as the newly withdrawn Tommy is introduced to the other suffering teens (although they seem quite a happy bunch for such debilitating traumas).

In a genuinely shocking moment one of the kids at the halfway house are brutally murdered (If you haven't seen it the movie may be worth your money for this scene alone).But unlike the other films we know who committed the crime and they are dealt with swiftly. It's at this point the film takes a nose dive and returns to the stalk and slash formula.

Trying to return to the original films mystery killer theme the cast are dispatched one by one as we try to deduce who is responsible. I think this is one of the films biggest failings as the film really dosen't know how to approach replacing the villain they spent so much time trying to define. The first two thirds mirror the first person killings of Mrs Voorhees then we suddenly switch back to a Hockey mask wearing fiend. I don't really get why this happened the mask conceals the actor's identity allowing it to theoretically be either a returning Jason, Tommy or any of the established cast. The first person spree felt like a step backwards rather than an homage to the first.

Now the kills are quite inventive and gory which a plus is as most people are only watching for the slaughter anyway. The bodycount surpasses any of the Friday movies (not including the Jason flicks by New Line Cinema) which on one hand is a plus but it does lead to a decline in characterisation.

The cast are essentially throwaway pap as they are given less screen time to develop distinct personalities. The men are cut down one by one and the women get naked then get cut down (it's probably got some of the best nudity of the series). Throughout the entire runtime I failed to care for anyone which meant I felt no tension as each person was stalked or disliked anyone enough to gain enjoyment from their death (Out of context that could sound bad).

With the cast so throwaway you think our lead played by John Shepherd would get the most development yet this really is one of the larger missteps of the film. Tommy no longer resembles the care free child of the last film and lacks any similarities to tie them together. The opening cameo is the only link that made me accept his presence but the performance is so shallow and devoid of emotion that it's hard to get behind him with any form of apathy. I accept that the character is damaged goods and would have matured somewhat but his dialogue is kept to a minimum and he displays quite aggressive behaviour. Now I may have over time grown to accept these traits had the original plan been continued in further sequels which I will discuss more in a later spoiler section.

Now the odd thing is while a lot of the film continues to replicate the formula of the rest of the series the tone is completely off from the rest of the series. First up the low budget nature of the series really seems to be on display here, the last movie seemed like a big budget extravaganza but this film pales in comparison and looks cheap. The second thing is that the film tends to be striving for a more serious take on the material. I'm not suggesting that the previous flicks were laugh fest but they were light-hearted in nature with a fun vibe to the proceedings. A New Beginning Lacks this and has a tone more in line with the Halloween franchise.

Skip the next paragraph if you do not want part of the ending of this movie ruined. SPOILERS BEGIN Now I won't give away the identity of the killer but I will say that it's not Tommy which leads to a rather disappointing conclusion. The film crafts Tommy as the hero protagonist and while he displays strange mannerisms he is the character who is looked upon to save the day. While he does have a showdown with the person responsible for the movies events the film ends on a dark note as he develops homicidal tendencies and commits his first murder. I understand the idea was to create a person to replace the Jason character, to have a tormented victim become the thing he feared most is a nice idea but poorly executed. Would it not have been easier to have just had him revealed as the killer at the end of the movie rather than having a couple of maniacs running around? SPOILERS END

All the major horror franchises at one point or another attempted to change the formula to stave off repetitiveness( Halloween 3 is one of the best). It's not that I'm a big fan of the work here but what they give us is relevant to all that had passed before. The movie takes place in the same universe but in a different direction. It may not have been a popular choice but an understandable one.

I find it odd that the failing of the movie is always attributed to the lack of Jason and the copycat killer vibe. No Jason may be a disappointment but his character was given a significant end and audiences had already accepted the changeing antagonist in the series ( Jason was only the focus from the second film). I think the real reason the film failed was because it was quite a mismatched experience. If it had defined the replacement for Jason with his/her own look the Friday series may have had a very different future.

This film is a strange experience but I'm actually quite happy it happened. It showcased the producer's willingness to at least attempt something fresh in an already ageing franchise. The film is passable fluff that every time I watch it leaves me wondering what could have been. It's at least worth watching as a part of the on-going series and flows pretty well if you were sitting through a marathon session. As a stand-alone flick though it's pretty useless.


Other reviews in the series

Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 3
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
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: Danny Steinmann
Screenplay: Martin Kitrosser
David Cohen
Released: 1985
Rating: 18
Starring:Melanie Kinnaman
John Shepherd
Shavar Ross