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FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross
Director: Danny Steinmann
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 92 Minutes
Release Date: June 16, 2009

“It’s Jason Voorhees.”

“JASON VOORHEES? You're outta your f*cking mind! You've been out in the sun too long! Jason Voorhees is dead! His body was cremated! He's nothing but a handful of ash!”

Film ½*

Every movie franchise has an inevitable low point. However, in the case of Friday the 13th, where the movies have never really amounted to anything resembling true quality, the term “low point” takes on a whole new meaning. And I’m not kidding in any way, shape or form when I say that Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is the cinematic equivalent of being raped in hell (sorry for providing such an image).

I can’t sum it up any better than this; whether you’re a hardcore fan of the Friday franchise or someone who doesn’t demand much from a run of the mill slasher movie, nobody wins with A New Beginning. It manages to make the first four movies look like individual Oscar contenders. I don’t think there’s a single person on this planet who won’t feel completely robbed of their time after watching this turd of the Camp Crystal Lake chronicles.

Words fail me in my attempts to comprehend why anyone thought this was a good idea for the Friday the 13th series, or any movie series for that matter. The movie creates jaw dropping reaction that lasts pretty much throughout its entire 92 minute running time, which actually feels like an eternity. You can’t help but be stunned by the poor excuse for a story unfolding before your eyes, only to conclude with a huge slap to the forehead when the wannabe Psycho plot twist is revealed.

But I’m getting way ahead of myself, the many problems with this movie start off right at the very beginning. Hell, it actually begins with the basic concept of the story, which is that Jason Voorhees is actually dead and the killer in this one is a regular Joe donning the hockey mask to make it seem he’s still alive. Again I ask; who thought this was a good idea?

Another problem is its handling of the character of Tommy Jarvis. There’s no explanation of how much time has passed since the last movie, and yet we’re supposed to accept the fact that Tommy has aged from a pre-teen Corey Feldman to actor John Shepherd, who looks to be in his early twenties. Since Tommy is being placed in a mental hospital as a result of his encounter with Jason in at the end of the last movie, I’m guessing the leap in time isn’t that huge, thus making Tommy’s aging process rather bizarre.

As if that wasn’t enough, we come to the movie’s biggest screw up; the killing scenes. For an R rated horror movie made in 1985, this is as tame as it gets. To be totally honest, by today’s standards the violence is definitely at a PG-13 level.

Director Danny Steinmann claims the movie ended up like this because the MPAA was constantly urging him to trim down the excessive gore, and I’m guessing he trimmed more than he was supposed to, as about 90% of the kills in this movie happen either off screen or only show the victim’s face at the moment of impact. True, there’s one neat decapitation and a scene where a signal flare is shoved into a person’s mouth, but when you compare this to the level of gruesomeness in any other Friday the 13th movie, you immediately realize what an abomination this is.

Even worse are the moments when the movie tries to be campy. The sole exception is a somewhat amusing scene where a character has to run to the toilet after enjoying some enchiladas. Other than that, the attempts at generating a humorous vibe simply fail.

I mentioned earlier of how bad the movie tries to paint a Psycho-like twist at the end. By that, I mean it takes the psychologist’s explanation of Norman Bates’ behavior and applies it for the utmost (pardon the expression) retarded reason I’ve ever heard, even by Friday the 13th standards. As bad as everything leading up to this moment was, this revelation is when you stop for a second and realize the 90 minutes of your life that you will never get back.

And as much as I was annoyed by the final shot of The Final Chapter, it’s nothing compared to what maybe the most horrible “hey, I never expected to see this” final shot in the history of cinema. It’s a tacked on surprise moment that absolutely makes no sense whatsoever. From what I can tell, the studio felt the same way since everything indicated by that shot is completely disregarded at the beginning of Friday the 13th Part VI.

All I can say to those of you who are just now becoming familiar with the Friday the 13th movies, and have so far made it through the first four, skip this one. You won’t be missing anything, you’re brain will be in safer shape and in the long run, you’ll thank me. And to those who have already endured it…I’m so sorry.

Video ***

As for the look of this DVD, it’s surprisingly pretty good and definitely a step up in quality following The Final Chapter. There’s a touch of grain in spots, but that’s to be expected for a movie with this much age. The night time settings appear rather nicely and the all around level of detail was a lot better than I was expecting.

Audio **1/2

The 5.1 mix, if not anything spectacular, gets the job done as much as it can. Again, much of the action is limited to the center area. But we do get a lively Harry Manfredini score to deliver some effect. And the dialogue, as horrid as it is to listen to, is clear and delivered quite well through the channels.

Features **1/2

Even for the worst movie in the series, Paramount does what it can for this Deluxe Edition release. Again, there’s a kick ass lenticular slipcover, in addition to a commentary track with director/co-screenwriter Danny Steinmann along with several cast and crew members, a featurette titled “New Beginnings: The Making of Friday the 13th Part V”, where in which a die-hard fan of the franchise actually goes out of his way to defend the movie and claim all the haters are wrong (quite hilarious). We also get new installments in “Lost Tales From Camp Blood” and “The Crystal Lake Massacres” and a Theatrical Trailer.

Summary:

If I still haven’t convinced you that Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is the absolute worst movie in the series, I’m sure the following statement will. I have seen both Jason Takes Manhattan and Jason X, and Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning is still THE WORST movie to ever exist in this franchise. It is so bad, that I don’t think anyone, including me, could have foreseen the cinematic miracle that followed it.

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