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Friday The 13th Part 6 – Jason Lives: The Review

Director: Tom McCoughlin

Cast: Thom Matthews, Jennifer Cooke, David Kagen

Plot: In a bid to confirm Jason is truly dead, Tommy Jarvis (Matthews) digs up the body and tries to cremate it. However, a freak accident brings the killer back from the dead for real.

The fifth Friday the 13th is widely agreed to be the worst of the Jason Voorhees films. While I have a pretty low opinion of the majority of them, the fifth, which tried to break out and do something new, is widely regarded as a horrific misstep. The twist ending of the film is that Tommy Jarvis, haunted by the fact he was forced to kill the unstoppable monster in the fourth film, was slowly turning into the next Jason. However, fans were outraged that they were no longer going to get the original Jason (although anyone that has seen the first movie will know he isn’t even the original killer himself), so the sixth movie starts as a frantic correction. Tommy Jarvis’s ambiguous morality is inexplicably dropped. Now he is understandably obsessed but still a hero, as if the last movie didn’t even happen. Weak story-telling, but in a series full of flaws, it is one easy enough to overlook. The movie opens quickly, Jarvis dragging his buddy out to Crystal Lake (renamed Forest Green as the town tries to move on from Jason and their dark past), so they can dig up Jason’s corpse and set it alight. Jarvis believes its the only way to stop his nightmares of Jason’s return and to confirm he is definitely never coming back. Again not the most rational plot point, as Jason has been dead for over a decade, but the movie’s plan is just to race through until Jason is alive again and then restart the movie. And yes, Jason does come back from the dead, in a confusing and slightly constrained way. The interesting thing is that this forces Friday the 13th to confirm Jason as a supernatural force, whereas before it was only ever implied. Part 6’s Jason has superhuman strength, is impervious to bullets and can break people in half with even more ease than before. As soon as he is back from the dead, it is business as usual. Zombie Jason stumbles towards the summer camp, killing anyone in his path.

Surprisingly, Part 6 gets quite a few things right. While it is still the same cheap thrills with a copy and paste plot, the sixth movie is stronger than most of its predecessors. For one, the cast is much more rounded. Thom Matthews is a strong Tommy Jarvis. While his motivations and character development jumps from film to film, when he settles in this movie, he makes for a likeable person to follow, mainly because he is different from the usual screaming teen we get at the head of this movie. Interestingly, the other lead on offer here is an adult cop, David Kagen’s character. Kagen plays the local sheriff, who doesn’t believe that Jason is returning and chases the bodies with a logical and rational point of view. It makes for a fresh change of pace and makes the finale all the more shocking. We expect the red shirt teenagers to end up butchered, but he makes for a likeable unknown factor in the movie. Even the red shirts are stronger this time around. While the movie is still racing to the moment they get killed, never stopping to savour the actual movie it is trying to make, the actors make the most of their parts. A chatty male teen is fun to be around for his limited screen time. Jason wanders into a paint ball game and takes on the combatants himself. Best of all, the summer camp in this movie has actual children visiting. Suddenly, Friday the 13th finds something to make Jason’s stalking even tenser. What is his reaction to children? Are they just as likely to get killed as the teenagers? Suddenly, as Jason picks off the red shirts one by one and the kids come closer to the top of the hit list, we actually get close to being scared. In a Friday the 13th film? I know. We have now hit the dizzy heights of an actual horror movie.

Final Verdict: Messy and, when we boil down to it, we are still watching the same movie, but director McCoughlin gets enough right to make this one of the better ones.

Three Stars