Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning

February 3, 2011

The Friday the 13th horror series is one of the most depressing success stories in Hollywood today.

Wait a minute—what am I saying? The Friday the 13th series is the most depressing success story in Hollywood. Nothing else really comes close.

Last year, Part IV promised that is was The Final Chapter, thus raising hopes among civilized people everywhere that he trashy series was truly at an end. Not so. These films are much too popular; sad to say, the latest entry opens the door for a whole new cycle of movies.

The subtitle of Part V announces A New Beginning, wherein the bloody duties of a maniac names Jason are passed on to successors. Jason is a brain-damaged fellow clad in a hockey mask who kills indiscriminately. He’s been doing it since Part I, and he has seemed indestructible heretofore.

That’s because, no matter how much punishment he gets, he just keeps going. Okay, he was killed off in Part IV, but somebody seems to be emulating his style in Part V.

Just in case anyone cares (the filmmakers certainly didn’t), the plot happens in a nuthouse—er, a center for social rehabilitation—out in the woods, where the guy who killed Jason in Part IV is sent for therapy. The other inhabitants are freaky guys and nymphomaniacal girls.

People start getting hacked up, and it looks like Jason’s method. The formula is so set by now, these “suspense” sequences are all deadly dull: Two people are out alone, and one of them says something like, “Gee, I think I’ll go over into these dark bushes and look around.” At which point both people are attacked and done away with.

One angry visitor to the rehab center says, “As far as I’m concerned, all these loonies should be killed off one by one.” He probably didn’t know he was describing the plot line for the film—or for any of the Friday the 13th films, for that matter.

So it goes. As usual, the people getting killed are so imbecilic you don’t feel too much sympathy when they buy the farm. That, I guess, is the dirtiest aspect of the Friday movies: the utter cynicism with which they are created and produced, with cardboard characters, situations, effects. It’s all done by rote, so you can’t care about anything.

These films always raise the hackles of decent folk who speak out on the violence and cruelty of the movies. There is a group that should be even more upset: people (such as myself) who like horror films. The genre has been so devalued in the last decade that it’s become difficult to admit you enjoy horror films of any kind—even when good and inventive work is done within the horror form.

So, let’s hope this New Beginning is stillborn. But based on the track record of the Friday movies, don’t bet on it.

First published in the Herald, March 1985

Looking at the actual release date of this film, I see that it opened a week or so after I quit the last full-time non-writing-related job I ever had, and a few days before leaving for my first trip to Europe. So I was really feeling euphoric, which might explain my reaction to being bummed so hard by this lousy movie. There is absolutely nothing else to say about it.