Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning Movie Review

This is one of twoFriday the 13th films that I remembered best. It must have played on TV a lot at a crucial time when I was growing up. Despite how stupid this movie is, it scared a great deal as a child.

Click here for a list of all other films reviewed and considered for this October 2012 series of horror reviews.

With the fourth Fridaythe 13th sequel Paramount attempted to take the series in a new direction by having the killer be someone other than Jason. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning picks up with a traumatized Tommy Jarvis (the boy who did Jason in at the end of Friday the 13th: TheFinal Chapter) looking for Jason’s grave and finding two boys there to dig him up. The sequence turns out to be Tommy’s nightmare. He’s been sent to an alternative psychiatric center run by a caring and understanding doctor who treats troubled teens in a communal farm setting.

The setting does two essential things that set it apart (and adrift) from the previous four films: it gets away from the cam setting with a killer stalking from within the woods; and it places the central torment inside the main character’s head. That’s not to suggest that the killings that start are a figment of Tommy’s imagination, but his recurring visions and fear of Jason eat away at him. There is some possibility that Tommy may be responsible for the deaths except screenwriters Martin Kitrosser, David Cohen, and Danny Steinmann (who also directs) are so lazy about establishing the conceit that it never takes a firm hold. And without any halfway decent material to work from Steinmann can’t even entertain the notion that Tommy is more disturbed than anyone realizes.

A New Beginning might have been marginally more interesting if some semblance of mystery had been laced through the screenplay. While it is true we don’t know who the killer is until the final reel, the reveal is so ham-fisted and comes from so far out of left field it’s utterly laughable. But then why should that be any surprise when just about everything in the film that comes before is just as worthy of scorn and derision. The acting is what I would expect from middle school children, although they tend to be less self conscious and so might even be more natural. The dialogue is sometimes bad enough to make your ears bleed.

Some of the films in the Friday the 13th series are really bad, but at least have some redeeming feature or value. A New Beginning is simply atrocious. It’s a sad and lazy attempt to keep a franchise alive before anyone realized the only way to do so was to play it a bit tongue in cheek.

Deaths (with my rating out of 10)

Total deaths: 22 (5 off screen)
Average rating: 3.12/10
Highest rating: 6

Ratings are based on my personal reaction to the killing taking into account factors such as shock, surprise, and fear, as well as the creativity involved and how graphic it is.

1.       Guy number 1 is stabbed in the stomach with a machete in Tommy’s dream (2).
2.       Guy number 2 is stabbed in the neck with a machete in Tommy’s dream (3).
3.       Joey is axed in the back by Vic (4).
4.       Vinny gets a lit road flare stuffed in his mouth (5).
5.       Pete has his throat cut from behind in the car (4).
6.       Billy takes an axe to the back of the head (5).
7.       Lana takes an axe to the stomach (4).
8.        Raymond gets knifed in the stomach (3).
9.       Tina gets stabbed in the eyes with gardening shears (4).
10.   Eddie has a strap tightened over his eyes from around a tree (5).
11.   Anita has her throat cut off screen (1).
12.   Demon gets speared through the wall of a tin shithouse (3).
13.   Junior gets his head chopped off while riding his motorcycle (6).
14.   Ethel gets a cleaver to the head through her kitchen window (5).
15.   Jake gets chopped by a cleaver mostly off screen (1).
16.   Robin gets a machete through the underside of the top bunk (3).
17.   Violet takes a machete to the stomach (3).
18.   Duke has his throat slashed in the ambulance off screen (1).
19.   Dr. Matt gets a railroad spike to his forehead into a tree off screen (2).
20.   George has his eyes gouged out off screen and is later thrown through a window (2).
21.   Roy gets thrown onto the tractor harrows (4).
22.   Pam gets a machete to the stomach in Tommy’s dream (2).

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