Over the last couple years, people have often asked me about my least favorite films in the Friday the 13th franchise (this includes the movies after part 8, which don't directly have the words Friday the 13th in the title). I have always said that Jason Goes To Hell is my least favorite in the series. I then followed it up with A New Beginning, based on the fact that its just not the same when Jason isn't doing the slaying. After a midnight viewing of the film last night, and some thought on it throughout the day, my opinions may have changed.
Prior to popping in the movie last night, I do not remember the last time I sat down to seriously watch Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. I basically watched it just because my roommate and I are making our way through the series this year. Before hitting the play button, I recounted the story for him (it had been a while since we've watched the last one, and this is his first trip through the whole series). While going through the story of the first 4 films again, I began to try a different approach to thinking about the fifth installment. I began to think about the movie in context.
I began to try and think like the people who went to see the movie in the theater in 1985. To recap, at the end of The Final Chapter, Jason is hacked up by a young Tommy Jarvis. That's it, Jason is dead, he will never be back. That has to be what was running through the mind of the viewer in 1985, since the movie was called the FINAL Chapter, and there was supposed to be the end of the series. There is a scene at the end of the Final Chapter that leads us to assume that Tommy Jarvis will pick up the machete and become the new killer.
It seems that until this point, I have felt almost deceived by Jason not being the killer in this movie. This most definitely led me to treat it not so favorably. Looking back to the way that the viewer in 1985 would have viewed it changed my view completely. The moviegoer knew that Jason was dead, and did not enter the theater expecting to see Jason Voorhees don the mask one more time. They were in the theater expecting Tommy Jarvis to be the new killer. No deception whatsoever.
I have always let my uneducated feelings of being deceived negatively affect how I viewed the movie. I always felt cheated. I'm half embarrassed that it didn't make sense to me until last night. Last night I watched the movie, in context, and I quite enjoyed it. Its still not my favorite in the series, but it has gotten some extra points in my book.
Today, I thought a lot about how Part 5 became a reboot for the series. Movies 1-4 are a complete story in and of themselves. While looking at it in context, part 5 is seen as the beginning of a totally different story. This got me thinking about part 5 in comparison with the original Friday the 13th.
There are numerous parallels that can be drawn from both movies. This also helps explain why the movie was made the way it was. There are similarities in story, as well as characters. The first film became an archetype for a new beginning in the franchise. The basic story worked in the first movie, so why not use it again in the reboot. Below is a sloppy chart I made to compare the two movies. It may be hard to read at points, but its the best I could do with no talent and a program that sucks.
So now I have a new perspective on Friday the 13th: A New Beginning. This may be something that is already well known among Friday enthusiasts, but it just hit me last night. I now have a brand new appreciation for the movie that kicks the franchise back into gear. I no longer think of it as a little bit of deception in between Jason's death and rebirth. I can appreciate it for what it is.