The marketing for Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is strangely counter-intuitive. It’s easy to pick on the “Final Chapter” aspect as the franchise has had several more sequels, including another non-final “Final” entry. Considering the close proximity of A New Beginning, just a year after The Final Chapter‘s 1984 release, it’s likely the marketing team knew there would be a sequel. One suspects the title is just a gimmick in the hopes of getting a one-time boost in interest. But then there’s the amusing implications of the film’s teaser poster: “The one you’ve been screaming for!” If the fans have been screaming for the franchise to end, maybe it’s time to consider it.
While Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is no worse than earlier installments, it is difficult to watch it without wondering if the franchise had indeed run its course. By the fourth entry, it’s starting to feel rather stagnant.
It feels rather like he’s just going through the motions at this point.
The film was directed by Joseph Zito. There’s some initial cheesiness with the opening credits and flashback after flashback of the previous films, related in story form by a group of campers. Presumably, as this is a different group than the kids shown later, and these guys have no qualms being around Crystal Lake, the entire film is essentially a flashback for these guys.
At any rate, yet another group of young adults has decided to make Crystal Lake their stomping grounds for the weekend, and set out for vacation and fornication. As usual, there is little to distinguish personalities among the kids, and most get only bland dialogue at best. The standouts would be the bickering buddies played by Lawrence Monoson and Crispin Glover, but even they are hard to get interested in. They’re all plainly disposable characters, and little development is given to them.
The film does attempt to be a little different from its predecessors, however. The vacationers aren’t the only ones in the area, as they’ve set up in a rental house next to a single-parent family; the daughter and son form the actual protagonists of the film. Trish (Kimberly Beck) is of an age with the visitors, and has some rudimentary interactions with them before the killings start. And Corey Feldman plays her younger brother Tommy, an excitable young boy who likes video games and monster movies. The film’s final nod to ingenuity is to bring in Erich Anderson as the brother of one of Jason’s earlier victims, who has come to hunt down the serial killer. (Given that this takes place on the same weekend, he must be working quickly.) Unfortunately, while this would be an interesting premise, it falls flat due to the general lack of competence of the would-be hero.
Should have left it to Corey Feldman, professional monster hunter.
At this point in the series, it’s easy to wonder what one is still watching the franchise for. It’s certainly not the characters, but that’s almost always the case in slashers. In theory, it’s the thrill of the kills. But aside from a few good defenestrations — this film is seriously in love with breaking glass — most of the action in the film is rather bland. It’s not a bad film, it’s just that if one has seen any of the previous entries, this doesn’t offer anything new.
I’ve been reviewing a Friday the 13th film on this blog every time the actual calendar date rolls around. It’s at a point where I have to wonder if perhaps this is a natural point to bring the “tradition” to an end. On the one hand, it would be a shame to end the streak, and there are certainly more films in the franchise, some of which get a fair amount of discussion, at least as fun cheesy schlock. Maybe they breathe more life into it. On the other hand, it’s a little hard to feel enthused when it might be eight films and counting of “more of the same”. A sequel has an inherent sameness to it, but it shouldn’t be an exact clone of its predecessors. I’ve got six months to decide, so we’ll see if A New Beginning shows up on this blog in June.