Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Written and Directed by Tom McLoughlin

 Released: 1986

Friday the 13th returns with (gasp!) another new direction. This time the film takes itself seriously only for the first two minutes; quite a pivot from the mild seriousness of the previous entry.

Let’s have no illusions; this is more of the same. Jason rampages through a summer camp dismembering anyone in his path. The often brutal slayings punctuate self-aware humor and genre specific satire. Despite following Tommy Jarvis for three films now, the audience does not have a deep connection to the character. To be fair, Tommy is, by far, the most developed teenager the series has seen thus far.

Now to the mythology of Jason. I’ve complained several times in the past that Jason is severely underdeveloped, even regarding the big picture questions as in ‘What the hell even is he?’ Jason Lives opens with Tommy digging up Jason’s corpse and unintentionally resurrecting him. There you have it: Jason is simply a generic killing machine. Ironically, this incarnation of Jason as the massive, haggard, machete-wielding, hockey-mask-wearing butcher is the one that was absorbed into popular culture. I have two possible explanations: 1. Previously, Jason wasn’t generic enough! 2. Jason never had a legitimate, concrete motive. Matters are different this time; Jason is out for Tommy’s blood.

The first two bits are the only scenes that stand out in this entry. In the first, Tommy reanimates Jason. The scene is comical, relatively plausible, and surprisingly tense. It is a satisfying way to depict Jason’s return. In the second, Jason confronts two (gasp!) camp counselors driving through the woods and (gasp! again) slaughters them. Prior to the spilling of blood, there is well executed dialogue between the couple about driving and directions. I wish those characters would have played a larger part in the film!

All in all, more of the same. Not great but not awful.

Rating: 5/10

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