Spotlight

One Too Many: FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI – JASON LIVES!

04 June 2019

We forced our intern, Charlotte Daraio, to watch a film, not just any film though, it had to be a sequel to a film from a franchise that she had never seen any of the films from before…then we asked her to review it. 

One too many times have I found myself watching a continuation of a beloved franchise that doesn’t quite hit the mark, or watching a follow-up to a film I didn’t like that much in the first place. I’m all too familiar with the bitter disappointment and self-hatred of having probed the sanctity of closure, only to never be able to shut it quite as tightly.

Well, what better way to eradicate these negative emotions than to jump the hurdle of the high bar altogether? That’s right: I’m talking about skipping the original. Because who needs all that pesky pretext that hinders a sequel-viewing experience?

These reviews are based not on tech specs or creative merit, but on stand-alone-ability – on how well the sequel braves the cruel elements of knowledge, nostalgia and time. So sit back and let an ignoramus warble on about – and maybe trash talk –  the nth instalment of your favourite franchise. Because let’s be real: you know she’s right.

FRIDAY THE 13TH PART VI: JASON LIVES (1986)

I’m what you might call ‘green’ when it comes to horror movie franchises. It’s not that I don’t enjoy them, it’s just that I’ve simply never felt an urge to watch them. Movies with a dozen sequels aren’t my thing – sue me.

Having said that, this week I watched Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. It’s now the only film in the franchise that I’ve watched. And I’ll say it: it was enjoyable. I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoy The Room or Married at First Sight. It’s that kind of masochistic enjoyment where every cringe, every groan, adds to the overall experience.

Before watching Jason Lives, everything I knew from the Friday the 13th franchise came from outside sources. I was aware that there are films with masked men who go around killing people – I just thought Jason and Micheal Myers were the same person.

But there’s definitely more than enough juice in Jason Lives for me to feel like I’ve been privy to the franchise all along. The over-expositional dialogue – something that usually makes me want to bury myself alive – was welcomed like a warm cuddle from a friend. It held me tight and told me everything I needed to know about the series, about Jason, his death(s?) and everything he had done to our protagonist, Tommy, in previous films.

Ah, Tommy – a name that, I confess, I still didn’t know post-screening. He was written my notes as ‘White Boy #1’ – until ‘White Boy #2’ was killed off. After that, he was simply referred to as ‘Male’ until I took the two seconds it takes to google something. In my defense, I don’t think Tommy’s name is said aloud in this film more than once or twice. The is one of the few qualms I had with the film’s ‘stand-alone-ability’ – and what made me realise I could never truly be part of the Friday the 13th ‘fandom’.

Another thing that made me feel this way was the utter lack of nostalgia I felt when Jason, in a superhero-like fashion, comes back to life: he pointedly turns around, the music swells, and it’s revealed he’s wearing his signature mask. This sentimentality was lost on me but I can image fan’s hearts skipping a beat, a foreboding shiver running down their spine at the idea that, at last, their beloved Jason is back for revenge – again.

I only really had one other question at this point in the film: why does Jason, an undead serial killer who I can only assume was savagely killed off by White Boy #1 in an act of self-defense, have a tombstone? Surely my ignorance is the cause of this confusion. Surely, in past films, it’s mentioned that Jason has a loving family – or at least a group of really great friends – who mourned his death, gave him a lovely funeral service and paid for this tombstone. I’m on board with this and am content to live in this blissful, wholesome ignorance.

Despite my confusion surrounding Jason’s personal life, I knew one thing for sure: this Jason fellow has definitely killed before and, by gosh, I think he’s going to kill again.

By the time we meet the camp counselors, I’m boggled by the amount of characters that have been introduced for the sole purpose of being killed off. I’ll say it: their deaths are fun, but they’re not that fun. There are only so many fake jump scares a gal can take before they start to become tedious. And, I mean, I know it’s called a ‘slasher’, but does Jason know the meaning doesn’t have to be literal? He can crush, break, mulch, even chew people to his rotten heart’s content, and yet he’s so focused on just slashing everyone as quickly as possible, not taking the time to kill them creatively. It’s almost like he’s some kind of mindless monster who – oh, wait. Let’s move on.

My final thoughts are this: are all camp counselors this attractive? Was I deprived of a childhood by not getting involved in the scouts? Do we even have scouts in this country? The movie makes it all look a lot of fun, you know, besides all the murder.

Ultimately, a standalone film, this works. It was standalone enough that I, believe it or not, feel no urge to watch the other five preluding films.

I give it 4/5 for stand-alone-ability!