His Name was Jason (2009)

You’re writing about more of this nonsense? You say. Like any horror series, it’s never going to die, although at this juncture I’ve run out of films to write about. So this is it, end of the line, the last film. Well, actually, His Name was Jason isn’t technically a film but a TV special. Yet for the sake of equality and to give Jason a fighting chance we’ll assume it is one for the purposes of this review.

The TV special spans the breadth of the series, starting from the original Friday the 13th and hinting at what will happen in the 2009 Friday the 13th remake. It’s the final minutes of the documentary where the intentions of the documentary lie. Everything in this documentary is just an extended ad to hype up fans of the series to see the remake. It’s a bit disappointing once the sham falls down on itself but it doesn’t stop the documentary from being enjoyable.

What it does stop the documentary from being effective is how clearly everyone is restricted to only saying good things. It becomes clear after a while that everyone is talking for the studio, praising all the greatness of the series and speaking of their undying love. This puts it at a clear disadvantage from Never Sleep Again which was refreshingly open about the lack of quality in some of its films. The only film that really gets any real flack is Jason Goes to Hell, and then it’s as a joke about how the fans all hated it.

Therefore, there’s a level of discourse when talking about these films that is rarely reached in the documentary. This is in part because they have to talk about 12 films throughout the course of the 72 minute runtime. It suffocates a lot of the conversation and often provides a lot of moment where you wish people would elaborate on points they are giving. Seeing as it was made for a set TV spot they don’t have much space to work with and the documentary suffers as a whole.

Even worse is that the film fragments talking about the films into three segments. The first is more about the basics of the films, the second production and the third perceptions and thoughts. Instead of going film by film through each of the three sections, the film actually goes through the entire series for each part. Having seen and written about the films, I was able to make sense of it all but for a viewer who has missed a handful of installments, the result is a scatterbrained, incoherent mess.

Also annoying is this strange visual technique the film uses over and over again where it flips the image and puts this post-processing red tint on it. It’s not nearly as cool as the filmmakers think it is and they rely on it far too much. It’s probably a vain attempt to make alleviate the talking head syndrome but more likely than not it will just induce headaches for the audience.

Yet in spite of all these setbacks, the film is still able to provide some interesting thoughts on the series, the genre and the individual films. They get into the issues of morality, objectionable content and social rejection that the series received. A lot of what they say provides insight into why I went about doing this marathon to begin with and also provides a surprising glimpse into the audience who likes these films.

It’s a film for the fans but it’s also a film to rook in the fans to see the remake which isn’t that good. If you haven’t seen most of these films, the film isn’t going to help you make sense of much of it. If you have, and loved the series, it’s worth a watch. Those in-between can ignore it because it isn’t for them and there isn’t enough quality or content to sustain enough interest in or provide enough insight on the material.

© 2010 James Blake Ewing