Friday, April 13, 2012

Triskaidekaphilia: 'Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter' (1984)

On the 13th of each month, I write about a movie whose title contains the number 13.

Released 28 years ago today, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter was, of course, not the final chapter in the interminable horror franchise; the next movie came out less than a year later. It doesn't even make much of an effort to wrap up whatever meager ongoing storyline has been weaving through the previous three movies, essentially just recycling the same plot for the fourth time. Once again Jason is on the loose, despite having been killed at the end of the previous movie. And once again a bunch of dopey, horny young people are hanging out at Crystal Lake just waiting to get murdered. You'd think that the extraordinarily high body count would be bad for Crystal Lake's tourism industry, but apparently that's not the case.

This time around there's also a vacationing family that finds itself in Jason's path, including a cute youngster played by Corey Feldman. The other notable cast member in this movie is Crispin Glover, who plays one of the teenagers and is disappointingly normal, aside from performing a sudden spastic dance as the group listens to records in their rented vacation home (of death!). The teenagers and the family have minimal interaction and sometimes seem like they're starring in separate movies, although of course both involve being stalked and mutilated by Jason.

Director Joseph Zito and screenwriter Barney Cohen don't even bother trying to explain why Jason is still alive; he just sits up on his slab at the morgue, murders a doctor and a nurse and heads back to Crystal Lake. Unlike the last two movies, this one at least doesn't start out with the wholesale recycling of footage from the preceding movie, but it does feature clips of the previous three installments as an unnamed camp counselor (whom we never see again) explains what Jason's been up to, like a sort of "Previously on Friday the 13th ..." segment.

The death scenes are pretty unremarkable, and the characters are as interchangeable as always. Even a well-trained Jason-hunter, the brother of one of the victims from one of the previous movies, turns out to just be more boring fodder for Jason's machete. The Final Chapter improves on the last movie mainly just by not being crafted for 3D, so there are no more awkward shots of objects pointing at the camera. The characters are slightly less annoying, but certainly not interesting until the very end, when Feldman's Tommy, a fairly generic kid whose one personality trait is his affinity for monster masks, kind of goes off the deep end and mimics a young Jason in order to defeat him. For the alleged final chapter, the movie doesn't kill Jason any more thoroughly than the previous installments did, and it ends on an unresolved note suggesting that Tommy may have inherited Jason's propensity for serial killing. Luckily no one paid attention to the promise of ending the series, so the lack of closure turns out to be irrelevant, much like most of the rest of the movie.

No comments: