December 4, 2013

Movie Review: Friday the 13th - The Final Chapter (1984)

I guess its true that all good things must come to an end. Following the success of Friday the 13th Part 3 (in 3D!) it seemed only natural that a fourth film would be put into production. After all, they did make sure the ending did not leave our killer definitively dead, there was a little wiggle room to come back again. They took 1983 off and did not release the fourth film until April of 1984. This one was billed The Final Chapter, and it was truly believed this would be the final turn for Jason and the Friday franchise, but we know better.

Joseph Zito replaces Steve Miner (who helmed parts 2 and 3) in the director's chair. He brought with him some genre experience, having directed the excellent early slasher The Prowler in 1981. Screenplay duties were handled by Barney Cohen based on a story by Bruce Hidemi Sakow. Basically, they brought in an entirely new creative team, likely to try and keep the series fresh for its last go around. Also, in a sign they did intend to finish it here (as if the title wasn't a big enough hint), they brought in special effects wizard Tom Savini, who was involved in the creation of Jason, to assist n the killing of said creation.

As was the tradition of these movies, The Final Chapter begins with a compilation of clips highlighting the story so far. They use Paul's speech from the campfire sequence in Part 2 to frame the clips, which manages to show quite a bit of death. If nothing else, Jason and his mom prove to be a skilled and prolific killing tandem.

The opening of the movie takes us back to the scene of the crime from its predecessor and sees Jason carted away in an ambulance, presumably dead. Meanwhile, we are introduced to a new slate of potential victims (including young Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover) as our tour around Crystal Lake continues. Time frame wise, this takes place just a few days after the events of Part 2 and Part 3.

This time, much like the last one, is not set on a camp but among the houses around the lake, a mix of locals and rentals. What does remain a constant is a secluded setting with little way of getting any real help when things begin to go south. This is something the series has always excelled at, finding ways to cut our victims off from civilization and ensure there will be no unwanted interruptions.

Time is taken to introduce us to our sex crazed teens and allow them to pair off, or attempt to pair off, thus thinning the pack for the horrors that are to come. Not to mention, there is the Jarvis family living next door. You have the whole gamut of potential victims, a child, a mother, sex-crazed teens, and the lone camper looking for revenge. Oh yes, this camper adds an interesting layer to the mix.

On the surface, this is not much different from any of the films in the series. You have adolescents with no supervision and a relentless killer. With those two primary elements, everything else is window dressing. When you think about it, what is the average person looking for in a movie like this? Creative kills, stupid kids, a little nudity, and a heroic final confrontation, right? Well, this one delivers.

I have to say, The Final Chapter is a pretty dark movie, it has more in common with Part 2 than its immediate predecessor. Part 3 was a little preoccupied with making the 3D gimmick work, and while it has some iconic moments, it often feels a bit too bright and cheery. This one is darker, grimmer, and seems to have a more dangerous edge to it. It is a welcome combination of 80's era goofery, and dark/brutal horror.

Director Joseph Zito really put it all out there for the presumed conclusion. While most of the characters are literally killer fodder, a couple stand out. Rob Dyer (Erich Anderson), the lone camper, is one to remember. He is not a mere camper, he is out hunting Jason. His sister was Sandra in Part 2. Rob has heard about the murders and put the pieces together and is out looking to have his revenge. Then there is young Tommy Jarvis, a kid with a skill for making masks, forced to step up and fight for his family, something no one his age should ever have to do.

To continue going over plot points seems to be a little silly. We all know the big picture of how a movie like this is going to play out, and it is pretty likely that you have already seen the movie and know what is going to happen (which begs the question, why are you reading?). What matters more is the execution, and this one sure does execute.

Jason isn't dead, but is likely brain damaged, probably dying, but still very strong and very dangerous. All of the movies seem to reinforce Jason as being human, although the beatings he has been taking are certainly having an effect on him. Rather than the spry hooded hillbilly from Part 2, he is more slow and methodical. Sure, that could be chalked up as just a different filmmaker's representation, but it could show growth and change in the character. He is still upset over the death of his mother and after being disturbed in the second movie, is on a mission to protect his land around the lake.

There is something about The Final Chapter that really gets under the skin. Once Jason is in attack mode, the movie becomes pretty relentless as the dwindling group of survivors become more and more desperate to survive. It all builds to the climax involving Tommy and the machete, ending with a look that reveals a level of permanent damage done to a young mind. I think some credit needs to be given to Tom Savini and his fantastic effects, he certainly brought his A game.

The acting is all around pretty good. Granted, a lot of it is kids being kids, and kids screaming for their lives. Still, who can forget Crispin Glover's unique dance style? Or the particularly brutal kills? If you can forget those, there is no way you can forget the great climax where Jason is finally thought dead.

It is kind of funny, for as much as they were billing this to be the final one, they certainly left it open for more. Although, I do give them credit for leaving it open in an interesting fashion. I think someone was hedging their bet.

Yes, I really like this movie. I daresay, this may be my favorite one so far. It may not have the psychological depth of the first two, it brings the series up a level in other ways. The kills, the utter relentlessness of the horror in the final act, the brutality, and a couple of memorable characters. You need the others to get to this point, but man, if this doesn't just bring it all together.


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment