“This sucks on so many levels.”
Where do you go after the 9th chapter of a franchise, the second chapter to be named the “Final” chapter in said franchise, completely undermines that franchise by attempting to explain what should have remained inexplainable? Especially after sending your main character to Hell (presumably – this never actually happens in the film, ya know the one that’s literally called Jason Goes to Hell)? I would think you’d start in Hell, since you never came through on that promise. And sure enough, that’s where we seemingly find ourselves in the opening frames of Jason X. Except we don’t – it quickly turns out to be a rip-off of the opening of Fight Club where it turns out what appeared to be Hell was just a part of Jason’s brain that the camera was floating in. Yeah, sure, OK. But then really, where do we go? Why, SPACE OF COURSE!
My understanding is this is yet another hated entry in this series, perhaps considered the final death blow to the franchise that couldn’t even get back on its feet when they crossed it over with another incredibly popular horror franchise. But I gotta tell ya – I enjoyed the space (not Hell – it’s never Hell in this damn franchise) outta Jason X! This one is a mix of self-aware cheese and earnest cheese that just kind of worked for me. The cast seems to “get” what this one is going for and they mostly pull it off – that being sort of a “greatest hits” Friday the 13th movie where we re-tread every single major trope and kill of the franchise in one final blaze of glory. It certainly sucks, as one character exclaims in the finale, but in the most fun way possible.
This movie was made in a post-Scream world where slashers all felt the need to be super self-aware. Thus in this entry, Jason’s resurrection is literally brought on by teenage promiscuity – he insta-resurrects at the sound of a teenage girl’s orgasm. The crew’s mistake wasn’t pulling Jason out of cryogenic stasis, it was putting him on an intergalactic fuck-cruiser. But then the movie turns these tropes on their head by using sex as a weapon against Jason – there’s a pretty cool scene where they put Jason in a Crystal Lake simulation and use the tropes that have classically made Jason want to kill against him. He sees scantily clad teenage girls in the woods that offer him pot, booze, and sex, which drives him to try and kill the simulation-teenagers via sleeping-bag-body-slams (a nice call back to an earlier entry in the series). And I have no idea why having sex with a robot-lady would increase the statistical probability of surviving in space, but that’s the logic of the finale (literally, that’s a paraphrase of a line in this movie)- the tech geek on the ship re-joins the group after having sex with the android he built who is now inexplicably clad in dominatrix gear. Sorry I lied, the tech geek immediately explains this when he walks into the room and proudly boasts “I gave her an upload.”
Now let’s take a minute away from this review to unpack this statement.
1) I assume he means upgrade
2) I assume they changed it to upload to make it a cum joke
3) Circuits + Cum = Digital Dominatrix?
And yes, you guessed it, now that this lady-robot has had a sexual awakening, she’s a hardcore, bad-ass killing machine, almost as unstoppable as Jason. And thus we have one of about 30 endings that this film embarks upon: Jason V Dominatrix-Droid. One of the things that made me laugh out loud in this movie was that they used the inclusion of an android to dig into the heady concept of “what is consciousness” in a scene where, while topless, she asks her maker why she doesn’t have nipples like the other “real” girls – they bring up one of the biggest philosophical questions one can ask just to include more tits. You have to give this franchise credit for consistency, at least.
I failed to mention that the Dominatrix-Droid fight is with Cyber-Jason (hilariously credited as “Uber-Jason” in the credits), the new form he takes on in the finale of the film. How does this come about? Well you see the space-teenagers seem to finally kill Jason, but they do so onto a resurrection-table, a device they use 45 times over the course of this movie to illustrate that in this future, no one has to die. We can rebuild them with cybernetic-ants (yes, I’m being literal). How do they not realize they kill Jason directly into one of these life-saving devices that they all definitely know not just the purpose of, but how to operate it? It’s a Friday the 13th movie people, they were in a pot-fueled sex-frenzy that clouded their judgement. And that gives us what I assume will be the final rendition of Jason before they reset him back to basics – Cyber-Jason, who looks like a Ninja Turtles villain.
I really, truly enjoy this entry. It’s a pretty standard sci-fi thriller (complete with references to DVDs even though this movie takes place in 2455 – why do all sci-fi movies from the early aughts assume this technology will exist forever?), but that’s actually a good thing in this case as that’s the point – let’s cross Jason over into another genre and bring all the tropes that he brings with him. Does he punch through a space-ship wall to grab an unsuspecting teen from behind? You bet. Do they try to kill him with electricity, not knowing that inexplicably regenerates him? Of course. Is there any exposition to set up why there’s a research lab in Crystal Lake complete with its own security force and futuristic technology, put there for the express purpose of capturing and detaining Jason? (And why director David Cronenberg is in this movie to have one line about there being another one of these facilities in Scranton, PA? Or why they would ever even need TWO of these facilities?) Not even a little. Does Jason find creative ways to turn his environment into a teenage-death-trap? Are you kidding, that’s the whole point of these movies, why do you think they took it to space? New environment. In fact, Jason has his highest body count in this movie, as his killing of the pilot results in the massacre of an entire space-station worth of people.
And then in the end, in one final subversion of slasher tropes, the black guy is the last to die when he rides Cyber-Jason’s body through space until they turn into a comet together – absolutely amazing. Also, does anyone else think the final shot, where we’re shown two teenagers watching the Cyber-Jason comet crash into the lake they’re on, is supposed to be a Planet of the Apes like ending? These teenagers aren’t dressed like future-space-teenagers (which is to say, they don’t look like they’re at a Limp Bizkit concert like the rest of the cast) – they appear to be present day teenagers. Is the ending supposed to imply that Jason’s space mission flung him back through time, to crash back into Crystal Lake, starting the Friday the 13th cycle all over again? This series always has such great cliffhanger endings that they never resolve in satisfying ways. Platinum Dunes should read my reviews of the series so they can plan their reboot franchise properly – there are some really interesting directions these movies could have gone that they continually ignored.
Jason X is certainly not the best of this franchise, but it is perhaps my favorite to go back and re-watch. It’s got a little bit of everything we came to love about these movies, all put in a blender for the purpose of mining a fun midnight movie out of them. And whether it was apparent to audiences at the time or not, the whole affair is extremely self-aware of its place as the tenth movie in a franchise that already went on for five movies too long, and more importantly is aware of what is truly loved about this series by the kind of people that would marathon ten movies, regardless of quality. If you haven’t revisited (or even visited) this since you avoided it in theaters in 2001, do yourself a favor and give it another look with an eye for pure, silly entertainment. You will not be disappointed.