Well, just as the fourth instalment in this series didn’t actually turn out to be “The Final Chapter” so it turns out that Jason Goes To Hell isn’t actually “The Final Friday”, despite a major attempt by director Adam Marcus (who also helped come up with the story) to put a very different spin on the character and bring a very strange resolution to things.
It turns out that Jason Voorhees isn’t just a shambling, unkillable machine with a hockey mask and machete. Oh no. Of course, people don’t realise this when they blow Jason apart at the very start of this film. But the body isn’t really all that important. It turns out that within Jason is a small demonic figure that can keep hopping between physical bodies, and using them up, until it manages to become properly reborn as the Jason we all know and fear.
If you just read the above paragraph and thought that it sounded a bit too far-fetched, even for a Friday The 13th movie, then congratulations, you just tuned in to the reaction of most fans of the series. Not only is the idea quite a wild one but the fact that the actual physical presence of Jason is only onscreen for a total of about 5 minutes caused no small amount of upset.
When I first saw Jason Goes To Hell I was actually quite impressed with it. It dared to try something a bit different, and I think it still deserves some kudos for at least trying, and still managed to throw some very impressive deaths onto the screen.
Sadly, the silly and contrived plot just weighs things down terribly and things quickly tail off after a promising start. The deaths start to pile up so quickly that they actually become boring, nothing more than punctuation marks in an extended pursuit that takes up most of the second half of the movie. Even the score by Harry Manfredini seems to struggle to find any energy.
The cast aren’t too bad here so it’s a shame that they don’t have a better script to work with than the one provided by Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely (though, to be fair, the writers are stuck with the unenviable task of shoehorning that wild plot into the slasher movie template). John D. LeMay (who had also appeared in the “Friday The 13th” TV series – not related to Crystal Lake in any way but an enjoyable enough little supernatural show) does well in the role of Steve, starting off as a lesser character and developing into a potential hero. Erin Gray and Kari Keegan are both good enough as the women targeted by “Jason”, Steven Williams is entertainingly arrogant as bounty hunter Creighton Duke, Richard Gant makes quite an impression as a coroner attempting to catalogue the collected body parts of Jason and there are fun supporting turns from Leslie Jordan, Steven Culp and even Kane Hodder, who gets some extra screentime without wearing the hockey mask in an amusing cameo as a cocky security guard.
As director, Adam Marcus does okay. There are one or two standout moments that remain practical FX highlights but also a number of disappointing offscreen incidents. The pacing becomes quite plodding and the finale disappoints more than it excites, which is a great shame, but it’s almost as much an equal mix of flaws and fun as any other entry in the series has potential for.
You may absolutely hate this one, you may love it. I stand somewhere in the middle nowadays but I urge fans to at least give it a go.
DIRECTOR: ADAM MARCUS
WRITER: DEAN LOREY, JAY HUGUELY
STARS: JOHN D. LEMAY, ERIN GRAY, KARI KEEGAN, STEVEN WILLIAMS, RICHARD GANT, KANE HODDER
RUNTIME: 91 MINS APPROX (DIRECTOR’S CUT)/87 MINS APPROX