There are a lot of low points during the Friday the 13th franchise. Even in the first one the characters are underwritten and mostly badly played. However surely Friday the 13th Part 5 A New Beginning is the nadir of the sequels, well at least until Jason Takes Manhattan. Sometimes when I review a Friday the 13th movie I can be quite forgiving and even see the fun in them. That’s not the case with A New Beginning. I’m going to be angry and vengeful because its a peice of shit and now that I’ve seen it I can’t unsee it.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, must have know Part 5 was going to suck harder than a Henry vacuum cleaner attached to a Boeing engine because after Part 4: The Final Chapter where so much energy was put into creating an ending to this nonsense, the creative juices in the series were spent. So Part 5 comes across exactly how you think it will: a lazy cash grab where no one involved gave a toss how it turned out.
Things start off, well, not good. Let’s just say things start and settle with that. We see Tommy, the kid who “killed” Jason Voorhees at the end of The Final Chapter wandering through Camp Crystal until he comes across a couple of teens who, for a laugh like, want to dig up Jason’s corpse. This seems like an incredibly stupid idea, although teens in the Friday the 13th films are incredibly stupid, well stupid and in their twenties anyway. So Jason, who was buried with his machete, gets up and kills them and then comes after Tommy, he’s about to be hacked to pieces when… oh it was all a dream. Pfffrrt.
Tommy in the dream sequence is once again played by Corey Feldman, who although only has to shout out “No! No! No!” and scream a lot is still the best actor in this film by a country mile, which I presume is a lot. I have no idea what a country mile is but it sounds much greater than a normal mile and Feldman is much greater than all the other actors here.
Unfortunately, once he wakes up, grown up Tommy is now played by John Shepherd who, whilst I appreciate is meant to play him as a catatonic vegetable acts like he is a stick of celery. Tommy has spent his youth in mental institutions after the events of Part 4 and now he is being brought to some halfway house/hostel to reintroduce him back into society.
Two things here:
1) Tommy clearly is not ready to be reintroduced back into anything. He spends his time either staring into the distance, ignoring all attempts at conversation, or violently attacking the other people at the this hostel. This is a man who needs to be kept in isolation for a very long time.
2) If you are going to ease a severely traumatised man-child back into the community after being attacked by and killing a psychopath at a holiday camp, is it really a good idea to send said man-child to a hostel in the same woods as the camp, about a two miles away from where all the shit, as they, went down?
This is a weird place this hostel. All the other people are deeply impatient with Tommy; whenever he leaves the room they all take the piss out of him, doing imbecile impressions and laughing at him behind his back. Not just the kids there but the staff too, even the sensible waspy couple running the place make jokes about him and call him a douchebag. How is this going to help the poor lad? Actually he’s not poor at all, he’s deeply unsympathetic just like all the other characters on display. For example:
– The hostel’ bus driver: he hates Tommy and all of the other kids there. He is balding with a droopy handlebar moustache with a terrible coke habit and looks like someone’s sleazy uncle, but somehow the chicks dig him. He pulls this blonde and boobisome waitress who thinks he’s amazing – the kind of guy to settle down with. This is despite the fact he is a) twice her age but can only hold down a part time job as a bus driver b) states that he just wants to shag her and little else and c) is mean to mentally handicapped children.
– The waitress: I don’t think she has a name but she clearly is a terrible judge of character. Also, when getting ready to go out after a day of waitressing the first thing she does is check her boobs in the mirror. For what? To see they’re both still there? Also, she fails to lock up the diner when she leaves so is also a terrible employee.
– A couple of 1950’s rebel types in black leather who hate the hostel teens as well. “As far as I’m concerned all those loonies should be killed off, one by one” says one of them. Well… you’re in the right movie for that. When they break down in the forest one them tells his chum to fix the car whilst “I’m going for a crap”.
– Ethel: A nearby neighbour who hates the hostel and wants them all to”fuck off”, especially the teens who like to hump on her land, and only her land. It must turn them on or something. Ethel is, as the name suggests, meant to be an old battleaxe but is played by a woman in her thirties wearing a very cheap grey wig. It makes a change I suppose from twenty-somethings playing sixteen year olds but is even less convincing because her son, Junior, is played by someone also in his thirties. No one seemed to care about this lazy casting, so why should we?
Here is Ethel and her son, being dreadful:
All these people die horribly, although mostly off screen. Obviously the idea is to make characters obnoxious so we are rooting for Jason or whoever, as Jason died in last episode, to butcher them in as violent a way as possible. However, a combination of the distinct lack of explicit violence and deeply unimaginative kills makes the whole exercise pointless. We are left just with awful people behaving awfully and then kind of disappearing off screen with perhaps a splat of blood across a window.
There’s a real mean spirit to these characters. For example, there is a presumably down-syndrome fat guy, Joey, who annoys everyone by messing up whenever he tries to help them. He ends up trying to assist this very angry young (ish) man chopping wood but only ends up winding him up so much that the guy chops Joey with an axe. This chap with anger issues should be locked up, let alone never be allowed anywhere near an axe. The paramedics who show up act even weirder. First they gather all the mentally disturbed kids around and pull up the sheet to show them Joey’s body. Then, when the kids scream and burst into tears, one of the paramedics calls them a bunch of pussies. How is this acceptable behaviour for someone in the medical profession? And more importantly, who wrote this crap? (Actually one guy who went on to script supervise all of Taratino’s films so what do I know.)
I suppose you could say that this pattern of abusing simpletons and the disturbed – Tommy, Joey, most of the other kids- does fit in with how we came to this sorry mess in the first place: Jason Voorhees abandoned by the camp counselors resulting in his death, which lead to his mum getting revenge, then him getting revenge for his mother, etc. etc. However I doubt that the writers of Part 5 really thought about this that much, if at all.
There’s only one actual likable character here and like The Final Chapter it’s a kid again. “Reggie the Reckless” (Shavar Ross) is light-hearted and charming, although even he is prone to some weird tormenting – he freaks out Tommy with a big spider on a string. Why are people constantly trying to upset Tommy? He is obviously deeply disturbed, when someone puts on a halloween mask (not a Halloween mask, its not part of a shared universe) he beats the living crap out of them (despite doing the mask gag himself on Reggie earlier). Tommy is a nut case and (SPOILER) dons the hockey mask himself at the end of the film, becoming Jason or something. This makes no sense at all by the way.
Anyway, the film is very lazily shot and put together. When Ethel dies the shots filmed barely work as a coherent edit. Other shots are obviously one take only jobs where the editor had no other choice but to leave them in. A punk girl who spends most of her time in her bedroom doing the robot dance, like punks do, is strangled by Jason and doesn’t even try to act upset about it. At one point she stops even moving and lazily swallows which I’m pretty sure you couldn’t do if you were having your throat crushed by a hockey-masked maniac.
It all ends with Reggie having to save the day by running over Jason with a very slow moving bulldozer. I mean Jason could pidgeon step in slow motion out of the way of that bulldozer the speed it is going. Instead he stands there for thirty seconds with his arms up in the air looking shocked. Well I think he look shocked, its hard to tell with that mask on.
Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning is an hour and a half long. Don’t waste your time watching it. I wish I hadn’t. No one likes this film. Even Part 6 ignores it.
Weirdly, despite all that, I think this is the longest review I’ve ever written…