After a short break for the Holidays, our reviews are back! Today, it's Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday. In New Line's first Friday The 13th outing, Jason Voorhees finds himself having an out of body experience after an FBI sting.
After eight rounds of traditional slasher carnage, this installment tried to do something different and paid for it dearly with the fan base. In fact, prior to Jason X, I think many considered this the worst installment of the series. I can't say I agree with that. I like when a Sequel at least tries to introduce something new to the series; and I liked this film's ambition. The story introduces a stronger supernatural element to the series, which a lot of fans seemed to think didn't fit well with the previous films. It never really bothered me, since I think the supernatural was already clearly present when Jason was resurrected in Jason Lives. I think the most important question is, does the new approach work? I think the basic premise does, while some of the smaller ideas that go along with it, come off as being too corny.
Another area in which this film differs from the earlier ones is that its cast, with the exception of only a few characters, are adults. John D. LeMay of the Friday The 13th TV Series, plays Steven, a character who has fallen out with his former girlfriend Jessica; played by Kerri Keegan. LeMay's character is a bit nerdy and weak at first, but becomes likable as the underdog hero. Keegan plays the traditional Mother in jeopardy character, but does so believably. Steven Culp gives in my view, one of the better performances in the film. He plays Jessica's new Boyfriend, who hosts an investigative news program. His character goes through about three different layers in the film, and as I said before, he does a good job with all of them. But, the performance of the film for me, next to Jason, is Steven Williams as Creighton Duke. Duke is a loud mouthed bounty hunter who boasts of knowing how to kill Jason once and for all. Duke is saddled with the role of exposition guy, but Williams has a great delivery and is able to sell it well enough. Duke also has several quotable lines.
On the acting downside, the trio of characters played by Rusty Schwimmer, Leslie Jordan, and Adam Cranner have a few entertaining exchanges; however they're too over the top and borderline on characatures. Billy Greenbush as the Sheriff seems like he's phoning it in a little. His delivery is very dry, and only once does his character seem to change emotion. While Erin Gray isn't exactly bad in her tole as Diana, she isn't really given enough screen time to allow you to invest in the character that much, and as a result I think her performance somewhat suffers.
Certainly the biggest complaint has been the lack of Jason in this film as we've come to know him. Just so I don't mislead anyone, Jason proper only appears onscreen for two major sequences. Kane Hodder makes his third appearance as Jason Voorhees here, and in those two sequences, I think he delivers his second strongest performance as the character since The New Blood; helping to recapture a lot of the raw aggression of Jason from that film.
I also like the Jason makeup in this film. He looks a little bigger, his mask has literally grown into his face, and the makeup itself is designed to reflect his toxic waste bath from the end of Jason Takes Manhattan according to KNB Effects. I thought that was a really nice touch, since the only reference to that film was cut for the final product. If it's gore you're looking for, then you'll find it with the unrated cut of the film. Several sequences were cut down for the R rating, including one particularly grisly death that proves to be one of the most memorable of the film and maybe one of the most violent of the series.
I'll be the first to admit that Jason Goes To Hell is not a traditional Friday film, but it is a fresh, fun entry with a brisk pacing to it. Try not to let the negative rep it has influence you and watch it with an open mind; I think you'll at least appreciate what they were trying to do even if you don't like the new approach to the character.
Directed by: Adam Marcus
Starring: Kane Hodder, John D. LeMay, Kerri Keegan, Steven Williams, Erin Gray, Steven Culp
Released by: New Line Cinema
- Rated and Unrated Versions of the Film
- Commentary by Director Adam Marcus and Writer Dean Lorey
- Additional TV Scenes
- Jump to a Death Feature
- Theatrical Trailer