I saw the first Friday the 13th in 1980, when I was a freshman in high school. Id never seen a slasher film before and wasnt yet desensitized to the brutal violence. Naturally I was appropriately traumatized. For months afterwards I had nightmares. I was constantly preparing for a knife-wielding maniac under my bed.
Meanwhile as I cringed in the darkened theater my world weary pal Bernstein, already at thirteen an aficionado of late night horror films, remarked with appropriate Mad Magazine tinged humor as a woman had her face cleaved in two, Hey look, shes picking her nose with an ax. Clearly ahead of his time, he understood these films were rife with humor.
Jason X is the tenth installment in the long running horror show. First time director Jim Isaac makes his debut, coming from a background in special effects. Sean S. Cunnigham creator of the Friday the 13th series was Executive Producer, so we can hold him responsible as well.
Since the resurrection of the horror film genre with the popular Scream series, slasher films have become exercises in clever self-awareness, winking at the camera while the killer slices up his victim. Unfortunately much like the killers, where Scream was a witty, handsome sociopath Jason is a lumbering moron with a big knife. Similarly the attempts at humor are all too telegraphed. The other problem is lack of a level playing field. Defying all reason Jason overcomes dismemberment, hanging, poison gas, electrocution, disembowelment and countless rounds of bullets. Its like the Christians versus the lions or the Lions versus the Rams. Suffice to say it gets boring quickly.
In fact the plot is mind numbing. Some kind of convoluted story set five hundred years in the future. Jasons been frozen. A science class discovers him and thaws him out. An evil profiteer thinks he can make money off his discovery. Jesus people, hasnt history taught us anything? Jason wakes up. Apparently rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated. Next thing you know a bunch of horny teenagers from the future who dress like Britney Spears are running spastically around a space ship. They soon find themselves dispatched one after another in a perfunctory manner, save for one buxom blonde who has her head frozen in liquid nitrogen then smashed like a roman vase. At least that was original. Okay, to the films credit theres also a funny retro sequence where they attempt to confuse the murderous Jason with images from Crystal Lake, circa 1980.
Fortunately Im not the same impressionable lad of 1980. This time the only nightmare I endured was the hour and half I spent watching this celluloid slagheap. I cant say I left hating Jason X. At this point having been totally desensitized I simply felt nothing. It was like vanilla yogurt, neither good nor bad, eliciting neither pleasure nor pain, just kind of sort of,
there. Im Erik Petersen for Movie Magazine.
© 2002 - Erik Petersen - Air Date: 5/1/02
USA - 2002