Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 7, 2004)
With the possible exception of The Neverending Story, 1984ís Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter might stand as the most deceptive movie title ever. I donít think it qualifies as a spoiler to reveal that the series kept going long after the conclusion of this flick. Including 2003ís Freddy Vs. Jason, weíve seen seven more Friday offerings after this fourth one.
As long as profits remain to be earned, Jason will continue to kill. Whereas Part 2 and Part 3 each opened with the conclusion of their respective predecessors, Final launches with a general recap. It reintroduces the legend of Jason (Ted White) and sets the stage for more gore.
The flick then picks up right where Part 3 ended, as we see authorities clean up the mess Jason made. The film also shows the apparent demise of Mr. Voorhees, as the coroners cart off his body.
To the shock of absolutely no one, reports of Jasonís death are premature, and he again starts a killing spree. Abruptly, the film cuts to a local family that includes Mrs. Jarvis (Joan Freeman), teen daughter Trish (Kimberly Beck) and young son Tommy (Corey Feldman). We hear that the house next door has been rented by a group of six young adults.
Lots of attractive young people out in the middle of nowhere with Jason on the loose - no points if you figure out what will happen from there. We watch the usual exposition in which the various characters hang out and engage in frivolous sexual activities. Jason stalks the woods and slowly offs more and more of the characters as we head inexorably toward yet another climactic showdown.
Blah blah blah. Why do I get the feeling I could just reiterate the same review for each Friday movie and it wouldnít matter? Thatís not fair, I suppose; since I still have four more movies to go after The Final Chapter, I donít know what potential surprises may arise.
So far, however, the Friday movies have stayed very close to the same template. Any story differences among the first four flicks remain minor. Someone kills young adults out in the woods - thatís about it. Most of the characters look and act the same from movie to movie, so the main changes come from the nature of the killings.
I expect thatís why Friday fans continue to flock to the flicks. They want to see new and more creative ways for Jason to slay the same cast over and over, and Final Chapter definitely expands his repertoire. This film makes his attacks more graphic and brutal than ever, so I suppose that adds to the filmís appeal for fans.
Otherwise, you wonít find much new in Final Chapter. It introduces a family to the concept; we still have lots of anonymous, horny young adults, but we also get young Tommy and his mother. Not that their presence does anything to alter the normal dynamic; the twist fails to add up to something fresh, though it does mean the filmís ending presents a moderately different take on things.
One change comes from the identity of the director. Steve Miner helmed the last two flicks, but here Joseph Zito takes over for him. Donít expect this to make any difference, as the movie remains clumsily paced and put together. The films always telegraphed scary moments, and that continues here, as Zito makes sure we see the jumps and jolts come at us from a mile away.
Another unintentional difference revolves around the cast. For the first time since Kevin Baconís turn in the first movie, we see actors who became semi-famous after the flick in question. Actually, Final Chapter offers two such performers: Crispin Glover and Corey Feldman. I never thought much of the latter, but Glover manages to bring a little quirky energy to his role. Given the amateurish nature of most Friday performances, this makes a minor difference here.
But not much of one, Iím afraid. Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter does little more than reiterate the same tired story in the same tired way. It attempts some minor twists but fails to make them stick. It may satisfy fans of the series who desire to see ever more graphic slaughter, but otherwise it fails to demonstrate any form of inspiration.