Director: John Carl Buechler
Cast: Lar Park Lincoln, Kevin Spritas, Terry Kiser, Susan Blu, Susan Jennifer Sullivan, Kane Hodder
Plot: Disturbed teenager (Lincoln) possesses telekinetic powers, a power connected to her traumatic childhood at Crystal Lake. She returns there to face her fears, but ends up unleashing Jason (Hodder).
Where do you take a film franchise like Friday the 13th? On one hand, something needs to change. We are on film seven now and, with a few small tweaks to the formula, we are still witnessing the same story on a loop. There is a summer camp full of horny teenagers that end up getting picked off one by one by a masked killer, until someone gets lucky and ‘kills’ him. As each feature pushes out the same tired story, there is a sense that Friday the 13th isn’t ever evolving, trapped on an endless loop of hacking and slashing. At the same time, this is a movie series that has a cult following. For whatever reason, there are a group of horror lovers that enjoy the expected thrills that come with the series, so the producers are compelled to carry on creating the same story. Therefore, as each movie opens and proceeds into exactly the same experience, it is hard not to feel a predictable sense of tiredness.
Buechler’s addition to the proceedings is to fully embrace the supernatural confirmation that the sixth film gave us. Now that Jason Voorhees is an undead, immortal killer, the writers are given the chance to explore this new side to the series. Therefore, the seventh film revolves around Tina Shepherd, a young girl who, after witnessing her alcoholic father beat up her mother, developed telekinetic abilities, unwittingly killing him in a burst of rage. The action fast-forwards until Tina is a teenager, mentally disturbed at her past and her gifts. She moves with her mother to a psychiatrist’s cabin in Crystal Lake in order to face her fears. Her rehabilitation is hindered by the partying teenagers next door, the psychiatrist being more concerned with unlocking her powers rather than healing her mentally and then there is the small matter of the serial killer chained to the bottom of the lake. Once you’ve swallowed the fact that Friday the 13th is crashing head-first into the realms of the paranormal, there is room for some traits to be thrown up. Tina Shepherd has the back story to be one of the more interesting heroines in the series and the doctor with ulterior motives sets up an interesting sub-plot. However, as is painfully expected, it isn’t long before we are back to the same, old tricks that always fuel these movies. Jason returns ahead of schedule, cutting short the helpful build-up and the movie evolves into one that feels a little nervous about waiting. This is one of the fastest paced Jasons yet, but not in a good way. Every moment feels compelled to show Jason marching ever closer to the camp. There are several red shirt teenagers here, none sticking in the mind and each one getting killed off in the same way. No one sees it coming until the last moment, so we are still watching the same scene on repeat. However, even the kills are mediocre this time around. Even the cult fans who appreciate the simplistic set-up are hanging on for the interesting ways Jason is going to kill off his victims. There is no interesting use of a cork-screw or an iconic stabbing Kevin Bacon in the throat here. We are simply given several shots of Jason sweeping down with an axe or knife, before cutting away. It is hard to see who is going to leave this movie satisfied with the content.
Maybe Friday the 13th has sort of hit a Star Trek movie rut. The even films are definitely much stronger than the odd numbered movies, with the fourth and sixth movie widely agreed to be the best in the franchise. The odd numbered ones, as this seventh outing proves, are simply too generic and stuck in a self-destroying rut. The acting is particularly crap in this one too, Tina Shepherd’s interesting heroine falling to pieces, when put in the hands of Lar Park Lincoln asked to play Tina as a simpering girl, drifting through the plot either dreamily or in a constant state of panic. The red shirts bleed into one another, until you cannot tell who is who. The only actor here that is really worth mentioning is Kane Hodder as Jason himself. One thing this movie does get right is Jason, who is more terrifying than he has ever been before. While the sixth movie allowed more chances for the true power of Jason to sink in, when we hit the finale of this one and peek under the hockey mask for the first time in a long while, we are left with a very chilling sight. The finale is worth watching, but by this point, it is too late to save yet another wasted Friday the 13th effort.
Final Verdict: Poor, but did we expect anything else? The same mistakes made even more tragic by how often we have seen them made.