Daily Archives: April 21, 2020

Jason X (2001)

*. Jason X is the last of the original run of Friday the 13th films, before Jason was (finally, after being stuck in development as opposed to literal hell) sent off to battle Freddy. There was also an attempted reboot in 2009, but the less said about that the better.
*. The producers wanted to do something a bit different (or “crazy, fun, and different” in the words of director Jim Isaac). What they ended up with was a movie that fans either love or hate. Jason in space? This is where horror franchises went to die.
*. It was made under the influence of the success of Scream, but actually doesn’t go down that road very far. There’s a clever bit where Jason is stuck in a holographic simulator of one of his earlier movies that would have been perfect if they’d been able to get Betsy Palmer to reprise her role. Alas, what might have been.
*. Well, there is a spirit of fun at work that I enjoyed. And things get off to a good start with a cameo by David Cronenberg (who had been a mentor to Isaac), some nifty away-team costumes, and one of the best kills in the entire series right after Jason is awakened from his frozen sleep. A doctor has her head frozen in liquid nitrogen and then shattered. This was such a memorable moment that it even featured in an episode of the show Mythbusters, where it was determined that the five seconds her head was submerged was not long enough. Or, as the show’s narrative put it: “a five-second freeze was too brief to turn those soft cheeks to shrapnel.”
*. After that, however, I felt things ran out of steam. There didn’t seem to be any idea of what to do with Jason in space except to redo the Aliens story. So there’s a corporate tool who wants to keep Jason alive for profit, a team of grunts who soon find out they’re in over their heads, a heroic android who gets to go full Milla Jovovich at the end, and a tough-as-nails final girl who had bested Jason in the prologue and is brought back to life with him. I mean, could they have borrowed anything more from Aliens? There wasn’t much in the way of imagination here.
*. Even the stuff I liked at the beginning goes downhill. The costumes everyone wears on board the ship are ridiculous and except for one guy being cut in two the kills are never as impressive as the frozen-head gag. A lot of heads get cut off, but that’s nothing new. And even the sleeping bag slaughter had been done before.
*. I guess I liked the Uber Jason (as he is credited) well enough, though he’s basically the Terminator or Predator warmed over. And given how formulaic a franchise this was I probably shouldn’t knock this entry for being derivative of other films not part of the same series. Overall it doesn’t move as well as I would have liked and I found the final act dull but I appreciate the effort they made to go in a different direction. They didn’t come up with much, but let’s face it: the well by this point was good and dry.