Director: Joseph Zito
Cast: Corey Feldman, Kimberly Beck, Erich Anderson, Crispin Glover, Judie Aronson, Lawrence Monoson, Barbara Howard, Camilla More, Carey More, Peter Barton, Clyde Hayes, Joan Freeman
Plot: The deadly killer Jason Voorhees is dead at last. Or is he? Not long after the events of Part 3, his dead body goes missing from the morgue.
Friday the 13th Part 4 really surprised me. For the last three movies, I have been slowly losing hope that anyone could turn this franchise around. It was the same bunch of tricks on repeat with shallow teens getting butchered off one by one by a tame serial killer (the mask is good, yes, but otherwise, Jason wasn’t really making an impression when it came to horror movie cult figures). I was committed to see this series out to the end, but I wasn’t really planning on enjoying any of it. Part 4, either through actual quality or just by being moderately better than the other three, is actually a pretty decent slasher flick. With the others, I looked at the silver linings, keeping myself sane by holding out for the passing chance of nudity, the gory deaths and the prospect of writing a scathing review. The Final Chapter actually entertained me.
It starts off with a group of teenagers making their way to a cabin in the woods. The group consists of a couple (why is the slutty character always the one with a long-term boyfriend? I don’t think Friday the 13th knows what a slut is!), two teenagers lingering on the prospect of hooking up and two single lads who aren’t lucky in love. One of them, Crispin Glover, has just been dumped for being a ‘dead fuck’ and the other one pretends to be a master when it comes to the bedroom, but the audience know that he will be the source of mistimed comedy, seeing as every word coming from his mouth is endless irritating. But the two single men are in luck, because two hot twins just happen to bump into their group and are up for some late night partying in an abandoned cabin. So far, nothing is new here, especially as the same sexually charged subplots lay themselves out, with Jason peering ominously through the windows. But then things shake themselves up a bit. You see, the real reason to stick with Part 4 is the neighbours of these teenagers. A family of three have lived in these woods all their lives and they carry on with their business. The two groups are relatively separate, Kimberly Beck’s well-mannered Trish Jarvis and her younger brother, played by a show-stealing Corey Feldman, nothing like any Friday the 13th character we have seen before. However, they are dragged into the wraith of Jason Voorhees, just for being in the same vague area as his intended targets. There is also another subplot, where a man is camping in the woods, hunting for bears. However, as Corey Feldman points out, there are no bears in this wood. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this stranger is hunting down the serial killer who disappeared from the morgue. Suddenly, these victims aren’t just naked teenagers we don’t care about, but people with functioning storylines and character quirks we actually like. Finally, we get the Friday the 13th movie we have always wanted.
It’s not even as though the formula is totally abandoned. No, for a lot of the time, it is the same shtick we have seen before. The teenagers might be an after-thought this time around, but they nicely mirror the real leads. In fact, even when it comes to the cheap thrills, Part 4 is looking to outdo the previous entries. There are more naked women in this one than before and the body count comes both thicker and faster. While few deaths will be as memorable as some of the ones before, look out for a neat harpoon-firing uppercut and a corkscrew that is used in a murderous fashion. The fans of the franchise will not be disappointed with the fourth one, but this time around, newcomers are allowed to join in with the fun. For a start, the pacing, acting and characters are a lot better. Because there are multiple groups, we are always unsure of who is next to be offed, while it was perilously obvious with the other movies. The red shirts are better to spend time with. There are a few blokes that are little more than cannon fodder, but most of the ladies hold their own. When one girl is rejected by her boyfriend and goes off alone to sulk, her heartbreak feels genuine, which makes the fact that we know something is watching her in the shadows that more effective. Crispin Glover is great in this movie, bringing a lot of energy to the table that definitely carries the ‘hooking-up’ scenes, which are usually the place where you just end up cringing at the cheesiness and 80s vibe of it all. And then there is Corey Feldman who is miles better than anyone else in the franchise. It is the little beats, off-hand expressions and well-timed delivery, which makes the character fun to spend time with. Also, when you stick a young boy into the movie, we are suddenly unsure where Friday the 13th is going with this. It is a fresh experience and one that left me with little to criticise about this film.
Final Verdict: Much better than any of the other entries. The red shirts feel genuine, the leads have good back stories and the trashy fun is better than before. This is how it should be done.