Saturday, October 31, 2020

Ten Days of Terror!: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Films: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on The New Portable.

If I told you that I was looking forward to watching the fourth Friday the 13th movie, called Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. A big part of that lack of desire comes directly from the fact that I know it was nothing like the final chapter of the series. There are some really well-done slasher movies, of course, and the original in this series is a classic for a lot of reasons. The second one introduces Jason Voorhees as the killer and the third introduces his now-iconic hockey mask. What the hell could the fourth one offer?

The answer to that is a hell of a lot of dead teenagers. I mean, that was expected given the nature of the series and the placement of this one in the series. There’s going to be a lot of dead kids by the end of it, mostly killed with a variety of bladed weapons. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is going to follow the standard “plot” structure of the series. We’ll get a couple of initial kills from Jason, we’ll set up all of the cannon fodder (and the final girl), we’ll have some gratuitous nudity for a bit, the kids will more or less pair off for sex, and Jason will kill them for their sins.

And really, that’s what happens here. We don’t get any of the “Jason is a supernatural killer” vibe through most of it. Jason’s kills throughout are more or less done by rote without much in the way of creativity. Having someone’s head crushed against shower tiles or being stuck in place by a corkscrew to the hand before taking a machete to the face is about all we can expect in terms of what my friends and I would call back in the day “quality kill.” It’s perfunctory carnage done without wit, style, or class. Jason kills because that’s what he does, but unlike many of the other teen slasher icons (like Freddy Kruger), he’s just a joyless, implacable tower of murder.

Are there any positives to this? Sure, there are a couple. It’s entertaining that of the recognizable cast, one is Crispin Glover who, because he is male and has sex, will not make it to the end credits. It’s also entertaining that the other really recognizable face here is very young Corey Feldman. I won’t say specifically what happens to young Tommy Jarvis, but it’s worth noting that for all of the happy teenager death in this film, even these filmmakers wouldn’t stoop that low, would they?

There is a plot here, kind of, or at least some minor attempt at characterization. But honestly, there’s not a hell of a lot of that. Characters are limited to more or less their most basic biographical information. These aren’t characters but mild archetypes. There’s the guy who is a joker, the nerdy guy, the girl who starts the movie as a virgin, the slutty girl, the girl who is a twin, the other girl who is a twin, and the obvious final girl. There’s very little to distinguish any of them from each other.

It also has an ending that is supremely ridiculous, even for a cheap slasher. We’re set up early in the film to believe that our young Tommy Jarvis is somehow a miracle worker when it comes to things like movie props. He has a set of masks and things that we’re told he made himself despite them being clearly and obviously professionally-made props. Well, we’re going to get something in the last 10 minutes or so along those lines when Tommy does some true movie make up magic on himself in about two minutes. It’s ridiculous and dumb, and I felt dumber for having seen it. It’s not even funny it a bad way.

Look, I know there are a bunch of these movies. I know that there’s nothing really to expect from them, but because my expectations are so low for them, I at least want to see funny or disturbing death scenes. These are all straightforward and disappointing.

Man, I expected to be bored by this, but not this bored.

Why to watch Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter: It promises an end to the series.
Why not to watch: It lies.

4 comments:

  1. This is actually one of my favorites in the franchise. Kill-wise, I found this installment also nearer the top. What happens over the course of the next few movies (until New Line takes over the franchise) is much more tame than what's here. Lots of the camera cutting away or things happening just off camera all to secure an R as the films following this one were threatened with an X-rating unless there were cuts made to whatever they originally submitted. Story-wise, it doesn't break the mold, but it works for what it's going for. Tommy provides us an easy way in, despite the ridiculous impromptu haircut and masks he obviously didn't make. So, I love it when he's hacking away at Jason with the machete. All that said, I'm an apologist for the franchise, so take all this with a grain of salt.

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    1. I will admit that this isn't really my wheelhouse. I don't love slashers as a subgenre, although I tolerate them. I'm watching these more or less because I feel like I should.

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  2. Oh this film is so fun to watch. Just for the kills alone. This is one of the better films of the franchise.

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