Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
Few movies that call themselves ‘The Final Chapter” actually are. Saw: The Final Chapter is getting a sequel this month. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is getting a reboot. And Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare was followed by three movie Freddy movies proving he wasn’t so dead after all. The fact is that it’s hard to keep a popular horror franchise down. While this movie is calls itself the final chapter it eventually spawned a total of eight more sequels. This final chapter is anything but final.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is a common favourite among Jason fans and it is easy to see why. It’s a perfect and pure Jason movie that gives us everything we want. It’s an hour and a half of Jason with his hockey mask lumbering about and butchering teenagers with a machete.
It opens right where Part III left off with paramedics taking the supposedly dead Jason to the morgue. There he wakes up, kills the coroner and a nurse, and returns home.
The Following day a bunch of teens head to a cabin on Crystal Lake for the weekend and discover they have neighbours. A woman, her daughter, and young son, Tommy, are also living there and they befriend the group.
Tommy Jarvis (played by Corey Feldman) is a big horror buff who designs his own prosthetic masks and props. They are all pretty well made and it is clear he has a career following in Tom Savini and Greg Nicotero’s footsteps ahead of him if he survives this movie.
Crispin Glover of Back to the Future fame is also in this movie. He plays a virgin who is getting teased by his “friend” Ted for never being with a woman. If it wasn’t for the fact that Jimmy is played by Crispin Glover I probably would have skipped this subplot in my review as it is not that interesting. Long story short: Crispin gets lucky with a girl named Tina while the jealous Ted is left alone to watch old stag movies from the 20’s on a projector. Both of the guys are killed by Jason because if there is anything Jason dislikes more than people trespassing on Crystal Lake it’s premarital sex and vintage porn.
Eventually the survivors of Jason’s typical slicing and dicing boil down to Tommy Jarvis and his sister, Trish. Tommy, following Ginny’s footsteps from Part II, disguises himself to confuse Jason. He shaves his head completely bald and applies makeup to himself to make himself somewhat resemble Jason as he was when he was a child. How Tommy knew anything about this is anyone’s guess. Once again Jason is stupid enough to pause and wonder which leads him to getting a machete suddenly lodged into his head. Tommy goes apeshit and starts hacking Jason to death yelling, “Die! Die! Die!” over and over again.
Later at a hospital Tommy and his sister talk for awhile and she hugs him. The movie ends with Tommy looking up with a disturbed expression on his face implying that he may grow to have violent tendencies in the future.
This is the first movie of what many fans refer to as the Tommy Jarvis trilogy. Parts V and VI continue with his experiences with Jason as an adult and deal with his finally coming to terms with his traumatic experiences and overcoming them. Nothing stellar, but it does add to a cut-and-paste series of genre slashers that would inevitably degenerate into the mundane otherwise. And it stays true to the series’ formula without going too over the top or getting too ridiculous.
My only really complain is that this movie could not possibly take place on Friday the 13th. Assuming that Part II takes place on Friday the 13th then Part III must take place Saturday the 14th because that movie is a day afterward. And since this movie does the same thing Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter must take place on Sunday the 15th and Monday the 16th. But since those dates aren’t very scary the movie titles make little note of it.
Roger Ebert called this movie “an immoral and reprehensible piece of trash” and went on to say, “Just think of the message this movie has to offer to its teenage audience: ‘The World is this totally evil place,’ this movie says. ‘It will kill ya. It doesn’t matter what your dreams, and hopes, and ambitions are. It doesn’t matter if you have a new boyfriend or a new girlfriend or if you have got plans for the future. You can forget those plans because you’re gonna wind up dead.’ There is literally nothing else in this movie.”
I love Roger Ebert most of the time, but I think here he is giving the movie way too much credit. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter has no message at all. There is no cynicism present in its storytelling. Nihilism, cynicism, and despair are not themes of these kinds of movies no matter what the critics may insist. These movies are juvenile geek shows showing off blood and guts with a masked killer racking up a body count for a period of 90 minutes for the macabre entertainment of its audience. You can criticise the audience all you want for finding the macabre entertaining in an escapist sort of way, but it is unfair to give a movie with such little thought put into it accusations of cynicism and nihilism. Friday the 13th has nothing to say whatsoever about dreams or the meaning of life. It’s a fun carnival ride of cheap cheesy terror in which Jason slashes his way through the characters. If you like that sort of thing then this is a perfect example of a Jason movie. If not you can watch Halloween, The Devil’s Rejects, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, or From Dusk Till Dawn all of which Roger Ebert praised and gave glowing reviews.