So what do you do when you’re making the sixth movie of a horror franchise that wasn’t that great to start with and has been gradually becoming indistiguishable from emu vomit? If you go the way Friday The 13th VI goes, you’re on a good track. Unfortunately, that track eventually leads to a brick wall.
By the time you get this far into a series, you must know you’re part of a money-grab. So how can you show a modicum of respect to your audience, while still sliding your hand into their wallets? Since honesty is the best policy, I think the best thing to do, at this point, is to be open about what you’re doing and just be ridiculous. After the first film, no one was taking it seriously anyway, so why not have a little fun. And, to start, that’s what Jason Lives does. It parodies its own genre, and goes for outrageous, over-the-top kills, rather than making any half-hearted attempts at suspense. We know the ritual well enough to know that no one except the main character is going to survive, so let’s just see some creative killing.
At first, this is what we get, with Jason’s poop-balls ridiculous reincarnation, followed by him punching someone through the chest. The rest of the body count grows in similarly gross (and enjoyable, if you are able to enjoy that sort of thing) ways.
Jason Lives first lost me with its characters. The central character, Tommy (formerly Corey Feldman… and also formerly the guy from the last movie who apparently turned down reprising the role because he became born-again Christian), has recently been released from a half-way house, and is trying to move on with his life after a traumatic confrontation with Jason Voorhees, the villain of the series. He accidentally causes the aforementioned re-animation and spends the rest of the movie trying to convince everyone that he’s telling the truth. The combination of this tired mission and his supposed intensity in wishing to be rid of his nemesis acts as an attempt to ground the film in something more serious than the slasher-romp it so depserately needs to be.
In contrast to the Tommy who we would be grateful to see chopped up, some of the minor characters, who are introduced simply as machete-fodder, are more entertaining to watch. The best example of this is during a paintball sequence, where one bumbling character (his name might be Roy) is tripping over foliage while trying to compete with his more intense co-workers. We know he’s going to bite it, and we sincerely hope that he doesn’t, that by some miracle, he’ll be the one person, who by his good, simple nature, manages to escape. Instead, we are simply spared seeing his dissection, only being assured of his demise by his body’s discovery later on.
Once the lovable characters are gone, so is all of the spirit and fun of the movie. It reverts to the previous movies’ old habits of hack n’ slash, with the lame hero, after reading a book about the occult, figures out how to be rid of Jason “forever.” Apparently it’s just that easy. Just as easy as it is to take what could have been a not-so-bad movie, and re-inject the suck. It was never going to be great, but it could have easily been better.