You can't keep an indestructible killing machine down. It's hard to believe, but it has been nine years since Jason Vorhees supposedly died for good in the inaccurately titled "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday"--which was also the worst in the series. In bringing the tenth installment in the "Friday the 13th" series, "Jason X," to the big screen, director James Isaac and screenwriter Todd Farmer have foregone the usual setting of Camp Crystal Lake for a futuristic story that implausibly leads Jason to outer space. The result is a motion picture that, despite the increase in special effects and change in time period, follows the blueprint of every "Friday the 13th" movie that has come before it, with horny teenagers and stern authority figures systematically getting their just desserts one at a time.
Set in the year 2455, when the Earth has long since become inhabitable for human life to exist, a team of scientists, military personnel, and students on a field trip land at the Crystal Lake Facility to discover two people cryogenically frozen. After reviving the young woman, named Rowan (Lexa Doig), she quickly clues everyone in on why the other frozen body--that of Jason Vorhees--is most certainly not dead, as they suspect. Before they even have time to heed Rowan's words, Jason unfreezes and gets loose aboard the spacecraft they're trapped on, gruesomely picking off the characters one after the next.
In the annals of the "Friday the 13th" series, "Jason X" is one of the weaker entries in the series--although I hasten to add that it is most definitely a step up from "Jason Goes to Hell." Completely doing away with the plot developments of its predecessor, the premise for "Jason X" is meant to lean more towards a sci-fi/slasher/action pic than a horror movie, and as such, it takes what little integrity these films had by being set in the real world, and transports Jason into an incredibly ludicrous fantasy storyline. If anything, this film stands as the most convincing proof of a dead horror series since "Leprechaun in Space."
Perhaps realizing that making "Jason X" into a frightening horror film would be too challenging a task, director James Isaac has opted to not even try to make the proceedings scary. In fact, there isn't even a single successful "jump-out-of-your-seat" moment to be had. Because the movie is little more than a collection of scenes of people being slaughtered (in, admittedly, some of the more ingenious ways the series has seen), Isaac has single-handedly targeted making "Jason X" funny, with one-liners and would-be sly dialogue exchanges coming every couple minutes. Aside from one clever moment in which a character sarcastically responds directly to Jason after being stabbed through the rib cage, none of the comedy works, either.
As with all of the "Friday the 13th" flicks, the human figures filling the frames are nothing but Jason's punching bags. No one is made to develop any of them, nor does our sympathy fall upon anyone. While the heroines are usually likable people you want to root for, Rowan, played adequately by Lexa Doig, is not. The only ultimate victims of Jason's that particularly stand out are Lisa Ryder, as sassy android Kay-Em 14, and Melyssa Ade, a dead ringer for Alyson Hannigan, as Janessa. And, as usual, Kane Hodder reprises his role as Jason.
No one would ever accuse the "Friday the 13th" chronicles of being high art, and "Jason X" is no exception. Where this latest entry does fail, however, is in its entertainment value. A "Friday the 13th" movie is usually fun just by the very nature of its cliches and predictability, but "Jason X" becomes a chore to sit through by the final tedious half-hour. Coincidentally, the one enjoyable sequence during the climax puts Jason in a mocking, virtual reality version of Crystal Lake. Funny how much you end up missing that old, reliable camp when it's taken away from you and replaced by a spaceship.
©2002 by Dustin Putman