Jason X (2001)

Right before a well-endowed woman gets yanked out into the black of space she yells above the noise “this sucks on so many levels.” If you only knew. While the Friday the 13th series has never been the most complex, nuanced and intricate series, it’s presented some interesting psychological and Freudian ideas throughout the series or given some depth to the characters. Here the only depth to be found is in the deep pit of how much this movie sucks.

It’s the future and Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is still alive, contained in a somewhat secure, futurist facility in some nice chains. People in the future don’t know anything about the once notorious Jason and he begins another killing spree. It’s short lived spree as one of his would be victim freezes the facility, trapping herself and Jason. Jump a couple centuries and a spaceship discovers the facility and the two bodies which they take to their ship to resuscitate.

The majority of the setup is a simple waste of time as it has little bearing on the rest of the film. Sure, it sets up the discovery, but wouldn’t it have been more intriguing and engaging if the film stared with this discovery? Then the film would start with this big mystery about where these two came from. Or maybe the whole idea could be scrapped entirely as the sequence that appears instead is painfully goofy, slapstick, moronic and acted out by some of the most untalented people to constitute a cast of this series so far. Plus, they’re almost all annoying from the first moments words leave their lips, which is the kiss of death in this series.

The only thing the opening fifteen minutes achieves in establishing Jason X as an action movie. Bullets fly like crazy as Jason makes his way towards the next victim. People kick over tables, cock futuristic shotguns and let off a round. Besides the obvious leap in genres, the problem is that guns in the future suck. It seems those crazy Liberals found a way around gun control and simply made every gun a sissy gun that couldn’t even hurt a fly. Way to go, I hope you enjoy dying in the middle of sex when the boogey man gets you!

But before all my Liberal readers leave, just know that the conservatives are just as much to blame for trying to sell Jason for money. Those greedy, big business bastards! The one guy who knows who Jason is and can end it all right then and there decides there is too much money to be made and risks everyone’s life just so that he maybe might have a nice life living on the beach, smoking cigars and hiring famous musicians for his umpteenth weddings for a billion dollars.

Hey wait, haven’t I seen this all before? This is uncannily familiar, like the premise of a big sci-fi series. O yea, Alien! Almost everything in this movie in some way shape or form feels like it was stolen from the series. Whether it’s the humanoid robot or the gung-ho space marines, it’s essentially everything the Alien films did but cobbled together into one movie, disjointed and with a dude with a hokey mask and a space knife instead of rapidly evolving aliens.

The film ends up being more sci-fi action than anything else but there’s little to no implication to that. The film introduces some cool ideas, one of them being this new technology that rapidly regrows body cells and can help resuscitate people. This could be a great setup for a world in which killing is no longer possible. Imagine if all of Jason’s victims were cobbled back together after the fact. What would the implications of that be? Would Jason even be considered a monster anymore or just a silly prankster? How would horror then exist in such a universe?

Most of the rest of the technology is similarly underused. There are hundreds of guns throughout the ship but they all suck. Likewise, the ship has all this cool technology but seems unable to afford enough light bulbs to make a well lit area. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Jason had to be in a place where he couldn’t hide? How would that change his tactics? The only truly interesting use of technology is a video game simulator that does a rather nifty trick in the last act.

It also doesn’t help that Jason has now decided that killing people should be done in the most ridiculous and awkward ways possible. There have been some incredibly dumb deaths in the past (see the entirety of Jason Takes Manhattan) but this proves to be an all-time low with some dumb, impractical kills that make little sense given the fact he spends most of the moving walking around with a giant knife.

Yes, this film does suck on so many levels. It’s a clear knockoff of so many sci-fi ideas but without understanding any of them or crafting a cohesive, coherent and enjoyable film. From the grating, forgettable cast to the awkward deaths, everything about this film is bad in execution. In the hands of another writer who actually understood these elements, the film could craft a nice deconstruction of Jason, a dark fish out of water tale. Instead, it just throws as much sci-finess together as possible and hopes the fans will enjoy the corny deaths.

© 2010 James Blake Ewing