Jason may have been killed in the last outing, with his head being split in half and brutally hacked apart by a young Corey Feldman, but that didn’t mean the franchise was dead in the water because even though the “Final Chapter” had been touted as the end of the series the accountants over at Paramount Pictures must have seen things quite differently.
The movie opens with a young Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman) arriving at the grave of Jason Voorhees to find two men trying to dig up the corpse, for what reason is rather unclear, but these two hapless idiots are quickly dispatched by a very much alive Jason only for this all to be revealed to be nothing more than a nightmare of a now-adult Tommy Jarvis (John Shepherd) who is being transferred to the Pinehurst Halfway House, a place for troubled youths that is managed by Dr. Matt Letter (Richard Young) and his assistant Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman). Things go immediately south as no sooner does Tommy check-in when one of the other patients is brutally axe murdered by another of the residents, and we are left wondering, “Could witnessing such an inhuman act trigger the latent trauma caused by the events of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter? Will poor Tommy don the iconic hockey mask and go on a bloody rampage as the previous film hinted at?”
Sadly, that was not to be as Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is nothing more than a disconnected collection of kills and Tommy Jarvis isn’t even properly set up as a possible suspect. We get the local Sheriff (Marco St. John) insisting that Jason is responsible for the recent murders despite his body having apparently been cremated, which is a pretty good alibi, and wouldn’t it have made more sense if he’d accused Tommy instead? We see Tommy as this reclusive introvert, who can barely put two words together, so it wouldn’t have been too hard to throw suspicion on his actions. With a clue or two being dropped the script could easily have planted the idea that he’d picked up Jason’s baton, but this film isn’t interested in telling an actual story, it’s all about the kills.
But if Jason is really dead, and Tommy Jarvis isn’t carrying on his legacy, who’s the dude in the hockey mask who is leaving bodies strewn all across the county? The killer is…drum roll, please…Roy (Dick Wieand) the paramedic. Now, if you are asking “Who in the fuck is Roy?” you are not alone and this “surprise” reveal has to go down as one of the worst twist endings in horror – and I’ve seen M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village – but what is worse than the killer being revealed as to be some complete random dude is the explanation we do get. Turns out good ole Roy was one of the paramedics called to Pinehurst when one of the “patients” went axe-happy and the victim turned out to be Roy’s mentally handicapped son who he’d abandoned many years ago, upon seeing the bloody remains of his son he snapped and proceeded to go on a killing spree.
Does Roy hunt down and kill Dr. Matt Letter for allowing dangerous individuals access to an axe? Does he track down and brutally murder the other patients of the Pinehurst Halfway House for their possible complicity in the death of his son? He most certainly does, and in fairly gruesome ways, but he also kills a half-dozen other people who had nothing to do with the halfway house or his son’s death. We are also left asking questions like “Why did he put on Jason’s trademark hockey mask?” At the end of the film the Sheriff pulls out some newspaper clippings that dealt with the Crystal Lake Murders that implies Roy was maybe using the legend of Jason as a cover story, but then again framing a dead guy isn’t all that logical – crazy killer or not that’s a dumb plan – and it also doesn’t explain why went so far as to construct a latex monster mask to wear under the hockey mask?
• This is the first sequel to not use footage from previous films which I assume was in the hopes of not reminding the viewer of the better entries.
• The two leather jacket-wearing greasers murdered by “Not Jason” looked like they were either off to an audition for the Marlon Brando film The Wild One or visiting the local leather bar.
• It was this entry that solidified the “Sex and Drugs Equals Death” trope.
• The Mayor chews out the Sherriff over the recent killings, “This is a small town. Small towns are supposed to be safe.” Has this guy not read up on the history of Crystal Lake?
• Tommy Jarvis is a pretty badass fighter in this movie, which begs the question, “Did they have Mixed Martial Arts training in the institute?”
• For a villain who is revealed to not be a supernatural monster he shakes off being hit by a tractor rather well.
• A chainsaw vs machete fight should have been a lot more exciting than what we got in this film.
• Tommy’s badass fighting skills vanish once face to face with “Not Jason.”
• Why the fuck was the killer’s hockey mask on Tommy’s hospital bedside night table?
Director Danny Steinmann was working under two directives from the studio, deliver a shock, scare, or kill every seven or eight minutes and to turn Tommy into Jason, which meant introducing and then quickly killing off a rather large number of characters, and to say this was not conducive to good storytelling would be a vast understatement, Now, to be fair, well-rounded characters were not all that abundant in the previous Friday the 13th movies before this installment but even by slasher standards, the ones in this film were practically anemic. This entry did reasonably well at the box office but feedback from fans, who weren’t all that keen on an imposter Jason, was a major factor in the decision to ditch the idea of Tommy eventually becoming the “New” Jason, and all I can say is “Thank god!” There are certainly worse slasher films out there but what Friday the 13th: A New Beginning was most guilty of was in delivering a villain nobody wanted, and that shit is unforgivable.
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning (1985)
Movie Rank - 4.5/10
This fifth installment in the Friday the 13th franchise does have a few creative kills, and by the most part the make-up effects were well done, but we were also saddled with a cast of characters that one could hardly give two shits about.