Jason Goes To Hell

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"Holy mother of God... "

April 1st, 2013

When you think of the most laughable moments in the Friday the 13th series they usually come down to either branding the 4th movie as the Final chapter or making the 5th without Jason. When New Line Cinema acquired the rights to the already ageing franchise they must have thought long and hard about all the pitfalls that had befallen the series and then decided to put them all in one film. Jason goes to Hell was billed as the final chapter and reduced Jason's role to a glorified cameo.

I remember renting the movie from the video store (it had a brilliant cover with a silver hockey mask surrounded by hellfire) the day it arrived (I was too young to see the film in the cinema) and counting the hours until I could actually sit down and watch it. Waiting for my friend to arrive was agonising and then waiting until dark (back then it didn't seem right to watch a horror movie until it was night) made it one of the longest days of my life. Then we watched the movie and it was one of the first times I had actually been disappointed by any movie (I had really low standards as a kid).

At this point it time I had watched the entire catalogue of Friday moves multiple times and owned most on VHS. I loved the franchise but this movie felt like a slap in the face to the fans with its disregard to continuity and ridiculous plot that in no way resembled anything that had gone before (even Part 5 had more ties to everything prior).

After a brilliant opening sequence (and a great twist on the formula) Jason was laid to rest within the first ten minutes, before the titles had even begun (It was intriguing to see where things were going from here). It is then revealed that Jason has actually had more supernatural abilities than we were aware of as he is able to posses the bodies of the living as long as they ingest his heart (Don't ask). The movie follows Jason as he body swaps his way around the town of Crystal Lake in an attempt to locate a blood relative which will allow him to be reborn. It's unfortunate then that the only thing that can kill him once and for all just happens to be another Voorhees.

What a crock of shit. I have said that it's commendable when a series tries something new but it really does need to fit within the realm of the movie universe that has already been established. This does not feel in anyway part of the same franchise (it actually feels like a separate script was adapted to incorporate Jason). Perhaps the change in tone was a way to try and distance the franchise from the ageing slasher genre (By the 90's they were dead) but when presenting the final chapter of anything you really need to represent links to where things began.

By having Sean S. Cunningham (He created the original) return to produce the movie (something which was blasted across the posters and trailers) you expect the film to come full circle yet it runs as far away from its roots as possible. In fact handing the reigns of the character over to someone who had very little to do with Jason's development (he was not in the original) seems rather odd.

Even if I separated the affiliation with the Friday series and judged the film on its own merits it would still fall short as it's essentially a very poor rip off of The Hidden (A film I had only watched a few months prior to seeing this one). The music is brash and while it is suitably epic in tone it can be overly intrusive in scenes and/or played over mundane sequences leaving it ill fitting.

The acting this time is defiantly a step up from the last movie with the cast trying and seemingly enjoying themselves. Even with some hammy acting (Duke is chewing the scenery) it matches the campy tone well. The casting of Friday the series actor John D. LeMay could have been a way to tie the two franchises together (the series only shared the title) but becomes a missed opportunity by using him in an unrelated role. I can see it was an attempt to show acknowledgement of the TV show but for something that was tenuously related it only drew my attention towards a show which got me watching under false pretences (not a thing I admire).

The biggest cheek of the movie is its use of Jason. For the first time in the series the Friday the 13th moniker was dropped for the title Jason goes to hell. If you are now going to put emphasis on the character of Jason in the title it makes sense that he would feature prominently but the hockey mask wearing fiend sits the majority of the film out. OK so maybe that's not entirely true as Jason does appear in some form with multiple actors (not just Kane Hodder) taking a stab at things each time he switches bodies. Only I found it impossible to accept these different incarnations in the role.

The first problem was ditching the established look that had taken so long to get right without the mask it just doesn't feel like the same character (that look does appear but briefly and poorly designed) . Then is the issue of using multiple actors in the same role, as the torch is passed all the actors give slightly different interpretations making it hard to accept this as the same entity each time (who knew walking around with no dialogue could be such a challenge).

Also by using unassuming regular people you lose the menace of a faceless killing machine. It was possible to play with the audience's expectations and build up dread with the body swap idea, the fear that the killer could be anyone. Rather than that the possessed stomp around, pull faces and grunt, it's silly.

Jason goes to hell returns to using gratuitous nudity (more or less dropped in Friday 8) which is always appreciated but in the interest of fairness offers up something bizarre. Apparently the director felt that there should also be male nudity for the females in the audience. While I can understand that I'm not sure balancing pretty teenage girls shot in soft light with the bondage and shaving of a fat naked man is a fair trade. It also adds to take away from the Jason character as he is the one who instigates this moment for no real reason than sexual gratification (something I could have gone without knowing).

Without being too downbeat there is a saving grace to be had with the movie and that is the brilliant special effects work on each of the kill sequences. All practical effects there are some truly grotesque moments (such as the melting of certain individuals) that affect you more than CGI work could ( I also enjoyed the rampage in the police station/dinner).For a series that really was more about the special effects and kill sequences it's odd to find that even they could not save such a disaster.

There are multiple errors and continuity problems throughout but I've grown used to glossing over the smaller things throughout the entire franchise but elements are introduced in this movie that fail to make a lick of sense. Just the use of a body swap device suggest abilities that have never been even hinted at prior, yes Jason is a supernatural zombie (I did love the fact that necronomican from Evil Dead was lying around suggesting Jason is a Deadite) and that was enough, anymore and he becomes the Superman of the Horror universe (cannot be beaten and dull due to the fact).

If body swapping wasn't enough we get the strange revelation that Jason not only has family members out there but a sister. How has this never been brought up before now? And if she has always existed who was looking after her while her mother was off on her initial killing spree? In fact would her mother really have been so batshit insane if she had another soul who relied on her? Why is her bloodline so important to Jason's supernatural abilities? Why the hell is she still living in Crystal Lake after all the evil things her family have committed there? This is the final movie (apparently) we should not have more questions raised at a films conclusion. Why complicate the simple background already established?

I don't know what was meant to be achieved with this movie other than keeping Jason fresh in public consciousness. By having a post credit teaser for Freddy vs. Jason (already in development which took ten years after this movie to appear) the movie negates its own purpose of this being the final instalment and more or less a piss take that this franchise has tried to dupe its viewers twice in one series to get more ticket sales. Jason goes to Hell is the odd movie out (of the 11 that have been released so far) in that it does not fit the tone or continuity clearly with any before or after it.

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 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 X
Freddy vs. Jason
Friday the 13th (2009)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director:Adam Marcus
Screenplay: Jay Huguely
Adam Marcus
Rating: 18
Starring: Kane Hodder
John D. LeMay
Kari Keegan