Directed by: James Isaac
Written by: Todd Farmer
Starring: Lexa Doig, Lisa Ryder, Chuck Campbell, Jonathan Potts
Released: 2001 / Genre: Horror/Science-Fiction / Country: USA / IMDB
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This review also includes a quick guide to the Friday the 13th franchise – See Below
The beauty to watching a film you have zero expectations of is that when it delivers, in the smallest, almost insignificant way, it can be a thrilling event. Jason X might be yet another addition in the Friday The 13th franchise but its way better than some of the awful later sequels. You can tell it’s post-Scream with its self-reflexive attitudes but unlike many of the slasher films that appeared after 1997, director Isaac puts most of his effort into playful use of the character and steering clear of seriousness. The film is silly and at times quite funny, but it doesn’t insult its audience by trying to be something that it’s not. Isaac knows his limitations and runs with what he’s got. It makes for a frequently enjoyable entry in the series.
After the federal government fail to kill Jason through various executions including hanging and electrocution, they decide, because of his ability to regenerate dead tissue (oh, that’s how he keeps coming back to life is it!) that he needs to be experimented on. However, he escapes when they try to move him to a new facility and Rowan (Lexa Doig), a government official sent to make sure he stays locked up, gets killed trying to get Jason in the cryogenic freezer. Four-hundred years later, a group of students and their teachers, find the perfectly preserved bodies of both Jason and Rowan. Taking the bodies back to their spaceship, they manage to revive Rowan, but by the time she’s told them about Jason’s destructive capabilities, it’s too late and the killer is running a deadly rampage aboard the ship.
It would be foolish of me to continue singing the praises of Jason X without clarifying that it isn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, a very good movie. The production design is awful, and the plot is a cobbled together mismatch of all the Alien movies. In fact, you can make up the whole story from each of the Alien films. For instance, scientists find the cryogenically preserved body of a woman who defeated an unstoppable killer (the beginning of James Cameron’s Aliens), and then bring her and the killer aboard their spaceship which docks with a larger mother ship (the set-up in Ridley Scott’s Alien). We then see the scientists and students not heeding Rowan’s warning about Jason (David Fincher’s Alien 3), before the unscrupulous Professor Lowe decides he can use Jason for his own monetary gain (a plot thread that runs through Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection). There’s also the whole idea that Jason can be used for military purposes which is a prominent idea that features in all the Alien movies, and when Jason does start to wreak havoc onboard the spaceship we see a group of gun-toting mercenaries trying to bring him down (seen also in Jeunet’s film, as well as Cameron’s first sequel).
Yet, the film works because it’s a crazy confectionary of outlandish ideas hinged on a tried and trusted plot and generic conventions. As a slasher film it’s a rather turgid and hardly frightening experience, but the playful use of Jason as an entity certainly makes it a worthwhile viewing for the post-Scream generation. For fans of the original film, it rather makes a mockery of the heritage with Jason, just like Freddy Krueger and Micheal Myers, becoming a comic freak show that a paying public can throw things at. But, it’s an enjoyable mishmash of teen slasher cliché and science-fiction intrigue. The whole last twenty minutes has to be seen to be believed.
Review by Daniel Stephens – See all reviews here
The Friday the 13th Series so far:
Friday The 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980, USA) – The raw and bloody original was a lot less influential than people think. It was massively inspired by John Carpenter’s Halloween and not nearly as good.
Friday The 13th – Part II (Steve Miner, 1981, USA) – The second film is the first where Jason actually is the killer. It’s more enjoyable than the original film but far too similar.
Friday The 13th – Part III (Steve Miner, 1982, USA) – It’s exactly the same film as the previous two, with the unfortunate bonus of 3-D.
Friday The 13th – The Final Chapter (Part IV) (Joseph Zito, 1984, USA) – The film stars a young Corey Feldman who has to come to his older sister’s aid when Jason takes a fancy to her. This is silly fun and follows a very similar path to the films that preceded it. However, it’s a better film than Part III and the most enjoyable of the sequels.
Friday The 13th – A New Beginning (Part V) (Danny Steinmann, 1985, USA) – The best sequel is followed by the worst. A plotless mess and the worst Jason Voorhees film in the franchise. The fifth film tries to reignite the series after Jason is seemingly killed for good, but it fails to do a good job, simply stringing together bloody deaths for the sake of showing off the latest prosthetic and make-up effects. Waste of time.
Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part VI (Tom McLoughlin, 1986, USA) – A coherent plot helps Part VI be one of the better sequels.
Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (John Buechler, 1988, USA) – A nice premise that sees a sort of Carrie V Jason battle is sadly under-developed. However, it makes for some fun sequences and a little inventiveness to what had, by this time, become a rather dull retread of the same plot line.
Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (Rob Heddon, 1989, USA) – A terrible mess that lacks any sort of plot. There’s some nice special-effects towards the end but you’d have fallen asleep by the time you get to them.
Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (Adam Marcus, 1993, USA) – Jason gets killed at the beginning which is about the only decent bit of the movie.
Freddy Versus Jason (Ronny Yu, 2003, USA) – A gimmicky piece of rubbish seeing Freddy Krueger battling Jason Voorhees. On paper it seems like a crowd-pleaser but it’s bad filmmaking 101, and isn’t as fun as Jason X.
Friday The 13th (Marcus Nispel, 2009, USA) – The inevitable remake of the original film. Glossy, over-produced rubbish.