Jason X
review by Gregory Avery, 3 May 2002

In May, 1980, I walked into an auditorium of the Carillon Square cinemas, in Orem, Utah, and sat down to watch a movie called Friday the 13th. I didn't know much about the movie going in, and I didn't think much about it on the way out. Little did I know that, twenty-two years later, I would be watching Jason X.

Jason is, of course, Jason Voorhees, the hulking, unstoppable killing machine with a perpetually bad day, who has gone on to appear in nine, count 'em, nine more pictures. Paramount and, later, New Line kept recycling the same formula, which was stripped of all frills and was relatively inexpensive to make but which kept spelling boffo box office and, in Hollywood, money talks. There was even talk of doing "Jason vs. Freddy", with that jolly jester Freddy Krugger, who sprung from Jason the same way Jason sprung from Michael Myers in Halloween. But, as financially successful as the pictures were, they never gave you anyone to identify with: the pictures demanded that you dissociate yourself from what was occurring to the people on the screen, which is dehumanizing to the moviegoer.

What's amazing about the new picture is not that they've found another way to keep churning out movies with Jason Voorhees in them, but that the filmmakers think the audience will, again, sit still for the same thing, over and over again. People skulk around in the dark; Jason nabs them; others stand around looking stupidly uncomprehending. And just when you think Jason's had it, he's right back up, again. It's repeated ad-infinitum, and it becomes boring beyond belief. The action in the new film is set in the year 2455, and Jason is a cryogenic ice cube about to be thawed out onboard a spaceship, but the plot is virtually the same as it was in the 1980 movie. Rather than take advantage of the futuristic situation---in which, for instance, the customs and habits of people from the twentieth/twenty-first century would seem as quaint as those of twelfth-century Flemish peasants would to us---the filmmakers have actually reduced everything so that they can doggedly adhere to the formula. The cast of characters is mostly made up of teenagers, and they act, talk, and sound just like modern-day teenagers so they won't do anything that could throw the audience off. One character (played by Lexa Doig) from present-day times who was frozen along with Jason is revived, and she's shown taking the news that she's suddenly in the twenty-fifth century as if she's just been informed that her dry cleaning has been delayed. (The one clever note in these early sections: a surprise cameo from David Cronenberg, as the head of the "Crystal Lake Research Facility".)

Further underscoring the overall feeling of recycling  are lifts from the first two Alien movies, such as a humanoid android, and a sneaky so-and-so who wants to use Jason for financial gain. (The android, though, is female, and, as played by Lisa Ryder, briefly kicks the movie out of its doldrums when she gleefully takes to the role of warrior woman and, literally, reduces Jason to rubble.)

It would make a difference if Jason stood for something more than a block of cement with a knife, but he doesn't: when he's shown falling into another Earth-like environment, like an apple falling in the Garden of Eden, all we can think is, uh, oh, they've just left it open for another sequel. Calling this movie brainless would be paying it a compliment: it's more like entertainment for trolls.

Directed by:
Jim Isaac

Starring:
Lexa Doig
Chuck Campbell
Lisa Ryder
Jonathan Potts
Kane Hodder

Written by:
Todd Farmer

Rated:
R - Restricted.
Under 17 requires
parent or adult
guardian.

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