Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Dir. Danny Steinmann (1985)
Tommy Jarvis, who grew up in asylums after he killed Jason Voorhees, is sent to a new home as the murders begin again.
In my review for Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter, I mentioned that it is the most Friday the 13th out of all of the Friday the 13th films so far. The excellent kills, the foreboding, stalking camera angles, and the popcorn-movie fun fit perfectly into the series, and the dirty hockey mask worn by Jason is one of the better looking versions of the character. The followup film, Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, decided to take all of the successes of its predecessor and turn them on their heads, creating a movie with a new killer, a larger dedication to interspersing jokes into the violence, and a determination to show seemingly as little violence as possible. These changes are not good ones, of course, and the film suffers greatly for it.
Several of the kills happen off-screen, a quick cut that only returns to the victim after the sharp instrument that caused their demise has pierced the flesh. This is an inexcusable sin for a slasher movie, especially one with four previous films with which to hone its craft. In fact, were it not for Deborah Voorhees' extended (and truly excellent) nude scene, it almost feels like a PG-13 movie. Sure, there's a few unattached limbs and a head or two that goes missing, but the moment of impact is blunted and fails to induce fear in the audience because the film seems intent on making the kills as boring as possible. The film required many minutes of edits to achieve an R rating, and you can tell: they must've left the good ones on the cutting room floor.
There's a lot missing from the fifth film of the Friday the 13th franchise, most notably it's key antagonist. Jason Voorhees is almost nowhere to be seen, other than the occasional vision from his nemesis Tommy Jarvis, menacing from the background like Michael Myers standing amongst the clotheslines in the original Halloween. The score is a bit retooled as well, becoming more discordant violin static than the ever-present recurring theme from the previous four films. The acting, likewise, is a bit stilted, especially with John Shepherd as the all-grown-up Tommy Jarvis, playing him as a near-mute psychotic who stumbles from scene to scene trying to run away from his past. The bizarre backwoods family that serve as neighbors to the childrens' halfway house are unnecessary characters with little to add to the film at all besides two relatively droll kills.
The decision to remove the main draw from the film, taking Jason away from a Friday the 13th film, has the same impact as director David Gordon Green's colossal mistake in Halloween Ends. No one cares that Jason's evil has permeated his victims and the lakeside community from which he hails; they only care when Jason himself is offing even more victims. I get that it's difficult to restart a franchise that claims to have killed off its antagonist in the previous chapter, but every other damn slasher movie seems to have done it, so it's difficult to believe that the F13 producers couldn't have figured it out. The extended nudity (from both Deborah Voorhees and Juliette Cummins' Robin) is a necessary inclusion because it would have been difficult to get butts in seats if the plot were revealed beforehand. I'm a fan of nudity in horror, necessary or not, but not when it's literally the only drawing factor for the whole film, and that's what it feels like this is.
Despite the changes, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is, indeed, a Friday the 13th film: it says so right in the title! It's in name (and mask) alone, however, as the plot has very little to do with the rest of the franchise's story, instead becoming a discussion on trauma and its reverberations through the lives of those that suffer it. Much like the most recent Halloween film, however, it's handled poorly and creates a much less enjoyable film. While Part V is certainly A New Beginning, it's definitely not a good one.
Who this movie is for: Slasher completionists, Jason Voorhees fans, Nude scene devotees
Bottom line: The fifth installment in the Friday the 13th franchise comes across more boring than anything else, an attempted reboot of sorts that gets just about everything the fans love about the series wrong. With a different killer and a ridiculous premise, only revealed at the end of the film, it's a poor entry into the franchise that unfortunately comes right after one of the better ones. This one is worth it for completionists only.