Here we are at the halfway point in the series, and there’s nowhere to go but down. At least that would be the general feeling after seeing the fifth installment, and it’s here where I start gritting my teeth and wondering why I’ve decided to punish myself like this. Not since the original F13 have we had an installment where Jason wasn’t the killer. Ooops, spoilers, though if you’re reading this you’ve probably watched this already. If for no other reason that’s why A New Beginning gets so much derision. Fortunately for me, there are plenty of other reasons as well.
Not only is there a new actor playing the pseudo Jason, we also have a new director, Danny Steinmann who shows no appreciable talent behind the camera. He got his start writing and directing porno movies in New York, then went on to film The Unseen and Savage Streets. A New Beginning would be his last directorial effort, so if nothing else we can be grateful for that. Steinmann died in 2012, and talking ill of the dead spooks me, so that’s all I’ll say about him.
Also different from previous movies, we have no campers, but we do have a group of emotionally scarred twenty somethings, I mean teens at a halfway house out in the middle of the woods. As the movie opens we see what turns out to be a bad dream of Tommy Jarvis. In it, he imagines two men digging up Jason’s grave. When Jason comes back to life to kill them, he then goes after Tommy who is paralyzed with fear. We then cut to Tommy as a teenager (though the actor who played him was 25 at the time) on his way to the halfway house. No sooner does he get there and start to settle in when the police show up, bringing back two of the residents who were caught screwing on private property. That private property belongs to a crazy old woman and her mentally deficient son who also show up.
Later that day we see another resident, a slow witted overweight guy Joey trying to help some of the others around camp. Vic who is chopping wood, will have none of it, and he ends up killing Joey with the ax. We see the paramedics arrive to take the body away, and of course one makes jokes, and the other says little, but by the look on his face you know we’ll be seeing more of him later on. Of course we will, as he turns out to be the murderer.
That night we see a couple of guys on their way to town to meet some girls, when their car breaks down, because, of course. No one in the F13 series has any reliable transportation. As one tries to fix the car, the other goes to take a dump, but both actions lead to the same thing: Jason kills their sorry asses. The following night, the driver who brought Tommy to the halfway house goes to meet his girlfriend Lana at the restaurant she works in. After showing off her breasts for no reason other than they’re big, the both of them get sliced and diced, and deservedly so, no doubt.
Next up on the chopping block are Tina and Eddie, the horny kids who were brought back by the police at the beginning of the movie. Here we see more nudity than blood which is about what happens for the entire movie. You don’t have to be a Mensa member to see that the director’s previous work was filtering into the current project. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if the kills are at least interesting-which let’s face is what most people go for-it’s certainly not for story. To be fair, Tina’s death by branch clippers to the eyes, and Eddie’s death by his skull being crushed with a leather strap tied behind a tree are the two best deaths in the movie, but like their orgasms come too quickly and last a lot less than they should.
All of this leads up to an over extended conclusion, which seems to drag on rather than elicit some sense of excitement. Reggie, a little kid knocks Jason into the dirt as he’s driving a bulldozer. Yes, that’s right, an 11 year old driving a bulldozer. Payback I would imagine for killing Reggie’s brother while using an outhouse. Much like Part 3 ending happens in a barn. In fact it looks exactly like the barn from Part III, Tommy comes back after he’s run away earlier in the movie, and Reggie plus the blonde manager throw Jason out of the top of the barn and onto some conveniently placed spikes below. And then we see the great reveal.
It wasn’t Jason at all! It was the ambulance driver! Apparently the kid killed with an ax at the start was his son. Embarrassed by his less than impressive intellect, he kept him a secret. However he still loved him and his death made him seek revenge. The best part of this is the Sheriff is explaining it to the camp manager, and he’s showing her clippings from the ambulance driver’s wallet and one of them has a picture of Jason as if a photographer caught him on the street somewhere. Now I don’t claim to be an F13 expert, but I don’t remember his picture being taken by anyone at any time. And then, we get a second ending which is lifted straight from the fourth movie, with Tommy once again being set up to take over for Jason.
The biggest problem, and why I think none of the sequels really work as well as the first two movies, is they’re not taken seriously. 1 and 2 were straight up horror. Yes, 2 had more self referential bits in it, but it still took its job as a horror movie seriously. Once we get to five, there’s so much nodding and winking that any kind of scares are impossible to come by unless it’s a cheap jump. It’s poorly written, shits over the canon that’s come before, and values nudity over blood. Worst of all, there’s no Jason! Unsurprisingly, this was one of the least profitable entries in the franchise. The fact it still made decent money though shows the power of the franchise.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning gets 4.5/10 machetes