Four films into a franchise, the audience is just waiting for the ship to sink. Maintaining a franchise, especially one in horror, is difficult because the jig is up after the first film. It’s tricky to engage an audience with a story when they know the ending and the villain. Four films in, I expected my beloved Jason Voorhee's ship to sink... but it didn’t. Two years after part three, Friday the 13th: Part 4: The Final Chapter was released; those Voorhees movies came out rapid-fire during the 80s. This film has everything fans love about the franchise: kids going bad, Jason instilling order, original death sequences and an overly-diverse cast. And the cast is actually likable and entertaining, which is a pretty refreshing change from most horror films. All of that plus a well-paced film with the perfect amount of thrills equals a fantastic addition to the franchise and a great campy horror.
Part four begins by recapping the first three films, which is always a nice way to start in case the audience doesn’t remember or hasn’t seen them. The film centers around two houses on Crystal Lake. One is rented by the Jarvis family and the other by six kids visiting the lake to party. Sound like your typical Jason film? Good. This film keeps it simple, but still manages to breathe new life into the franchise.
Friday the 13th films typically go out of their way to include a diverse cast. Past characters such as a pregnant girl, a dork, a motorcycle gang and a kid in a wheelchair all come to mind. This film held up its end of the diversity bargain by including a slutty girl, a prude, a couple of dorky kids and even a set of twins. These aren’t just normal twins, they are young adults who still dress alike. It reminded me of the twins from The Shining; there is something about twins in horror films that just gives me the jitters. Despite the overzealous need to include a variety of stereotypes, I thoroughly enjoyed this cast. None of the characters were too over-the-top and I found it easy to connect with each of them. All of the characters had some sort of mini-issue they were dealing with, and I found this interesting and not distracting. Their issues added to the story and built their characters without overpowering Jason’s story. To top it off, this film had two people in it that rocked my world: Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover. As I am a huge fan of films from the 80s, Corey Feldman is one of my favorite people - ever. His portrayal of Tommy Jarvis in this movie was fantastic and I loved every minute of him. And Crispin Glover definitely rounded out the cast.
This film retained everything about the franchise that fans love and it did all this in a new, well-paced way. Everything felt perfectly timed and nothing was rushed. The suspense built progressively throughout the film and it paid off in the end with a satisfying conclusion. While the title suggests the end of the series, we all know this film is far from the end. Had it truly been the end, though, this would have been a perfect way for Jason to go out.
Friday the 13th: Part 4: The Final Chapter is a fun, suspenseful and deliciously campy ride. Fans of the franchise will enjoy this film greatly. Fans of Corey Feldman will rejoice. Fans of Jason killing someone using a corkscrew will cheer. Fans of horror, particularly campy, will celebrate. Residents of horror island should run - Jason’s coming.
If you liked Friday the 13th Part 4, you might also like Friday the 13th Part 5, Friday the 13th Part 6 and Friday the 13th Part 7.