Skip to content

Friday the 13th Part 5 – A New Beginning: The Review

Director: Danny Steinmann

Cast: John Shepherd, Melanie Kinnaman, Shavar Ross, Marco St. John

Plot: Tommy Jarvis (Shepherd) is sent to a summer camp for disturbed children, haunted by the memories of Jason Voorhees. Then bodies start turning up.

At first, Friday the 13th fifth entry looked a little intriguing. Rather than the usual set-up of a group of horny teens going to a summer camp and getting singled off by one of history’s most memorable serial killers, A New Beginning attempts something new. We are reintroduced to Tommy Jarvis, the kid that finally killed the indestructible Jason Voorhees. Since we last saw him, he has been tossed from care home to care home, finally landing at the summer camp in the film. Two kindly people take in kids with mental disabilities and try to reintegrate them into society. Tommy keeps to himself, a nervous, all but mute teenager, with flashbacks of Voorhees haunting his dreams. The set-up is new and right from the off, it looks like things are finally about to be shaken up…

Oh no, wait, this is the same movie, just dressed up to make itself look a little worthwhile. The kids with mental disabilities are so poorly written, it is difficult to see why they are there. Tommy Jarvis and the one angry kid who gets written out early are the only ones that look like they are in need of rehabilatation. One kid functions perfectly, only he has a slight stutter. Another kid is fat. One girl is addicted to spending all day on her headphones – hardly a mental disorder, it’s called being a teenager in the 80s. The rest just have sex a lot, but if that is a reason to get yourself sent to an asylum, the entire franchise would never leave that one set. For all of the little things that the fifth Friday the 13th attempt, they all come crashing back down, because they are still fixated on that very strict routine. Teenagers meet up, develop badly written romances and then get killed off, before they are developed properly. This one is even more laughable, because the red shirt characters feel more prominent than the lead group of teenagers. In every Friday the 13th movie, we are introduced to an extra who works as a narrative plot device – here, it is the driver who takes Tommy to the care home in the first place and a brother figure that acts as an excuse to split the lead characters up for a time, allowing Voorhees to slip in and start his butchering three scenes early. Those side characters have ten seconds worth of narrative to get through. Yet they are always shoed into the story, so we get to see some bloody kills early on. The funny thing here is that those extras really work for their screen-time (the driver is relatively amusing, as he prepares cocaine in the front seat of his car), while the teenagers who are meant to come across as more important, are so routine and undeveloped that they barely register. Again, this is largely due to the fact that because we are given this new scenario where they are supposed to be mentally disabled to some extent, so when they are the same old characters, it hurts the narrative even more. It just feels that something special and new could have been done here, but that oppurtunity is thrown under the bus. The only positive is that it does mean that we have our most interesting hero yet – Tommy Jarvis was good in the fourth one, but here he is a total unknown. John Shepherd intensely ticks away in the background and no one is quite sure where his story is going. Is he going to save the day? Is he imagining the whole thing? Is he Jason?

And for the rest of this review, I just fancy tearing into the silly amount of plot holes in the fifth movie. They are all mainly to do with what has to be the world’s worst mental summer camp I have ever had the horror to see in movie history. For one, even if it was a run-of-the-mill summer camp, the organisation and security of the complex is laughably poor. I understand the concept where the kids are allowed to make their own rules. The owners want the children to have the freedom of choice, which helps them feel more prepared to go back into the world and function as adults (because that stuttering problem is a surefire trip to murder suicide, says someone in the writer’s room meeting). However, they need some boundaries. The police are introduced to the plot, picking up two of the children, who were caught having sex in their neighbour’s property. Surely, someone has to be keeping tabs on their ‘patients/residents’. One of the running jokes (that gets old after five seconds) is the local family who are clearly not right in the head, yet always trying to drive the patients out of the area. However, when the complex has absolutely no precautions in place to care for them or the surrounding area, you partially have to agree with them. The one angry kid that probably does need some form of social intervention would be a terrifying person to have break away and go on the loose. By the end point in the film, one of the carers – Melanie Kinnaman who almost definitely doesn’t have any qualifications to have this job – just leaves the kids alone at night. My point does hurt, seeing as, as I have mentioned, these kids are totally mentally healthy, but for a mental patient summer camp, this is unforgiveable practice. This movie is almost redeemable, because it is funny watching basic health and safety be so recklessly tossed aside. I mean… come on, guys, are you even trying to make a movie anymore?!

Final Verdict: Crap. But slightly different. Different has a lot going for it in this franchise.

Two Stars