Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter

Subtitled The Final Chapter, the promised last installment to the Friday the 13th franchise won’t disappoint, assuming you’re completely willing to forgive all of its shortcomings. And, if you’re a fan of this series, then you’re quite clearly okay with doing just that. Considering the kills are relatively creative this time around — at least, compared to the first three chapters — I can see how some audience members could view The Final Chapter as the best of the series.

The film once again takes place at Crystal Lake, which is where Jason Voorhees’ mother was murdered, and he was supposedly drowned. Obviously, the latter wasn’t the case, as Jason has served as the antagonist for the last two films. The Final Chapter involves two groups of people — a family and a collection of random teenagers — all being slaughtered by the serial killer the film hope’s we love to hate, or hate to love, or some combination of those two words which hasn’t yet been thought of by man, but nonetheless exists.

The family: a mother, daughter and son, who have apparently been living relatively close to the lake for quite some time. The teens: a group of indistinguishable people who exist to party, have sex, and be killed, generally in that order. It would be entirely possible that the same actors have been used for the teenage roles in all of these films, and I wouldn’t have noticed. Save for the second movie, there’s been no attempt to allow us to tell them apart from the others. You can’t care about them as a result.

I suppose you have to give credit to director Frank Zito, writer Barney Cohen, and whichever producers allowed them to get away with the content they’ve put into this film. The Friday the 13th films have always been violent, but this one tops the lot of them. It’s also got a significantly larger amount of nudity. The exploitation elements of the franchise have been increased for the quote-unquote final chapter. Is that a natural progression, or just a bunch of filmmakers who wanted to see what they could get away with?

The kills are gorier and slightly more creative, too, which will satisfy. The gore has always been there, but the franchise has largely been devoid of inspiration when it comes to killing its characters. Jason usually just cuts them up with a knife. There are some differences this time around, and that helps keep things fresh. I don’t want to spoil any of them — even if you know everyone will die, I don’t really want to ruin the fun of the kill — but there’s some ingenuity in this film that we haven’t previously seen.

Much of the earlier chapters’ faults are still present, which is what continues to keep The Final Chapter from being worth seeing, unless of course you’ve already been initiated and are a fan of what you’ve already seen. The characters are all still paper-thin, the dialogue is laughably bad, the acting might be the worst that the franchise has seen — having a child in one of the leading roles might be the reason for this — and, like the last film, we see way too much of Jason for him to be anything near scary.

It says a lot about the series that The Final Chapter opens with a highlight montage of the best moments, and almost all of them look the same. None of it scary, none of it is fun, and there’s nothing to appreciate, save for the blood effects created by makeup artist Tom Savini. In fact, if there’s one thing that I’ve overlooked in watching these films, it’s the job he’s done with the gore. Granted, he only worked on the original and on this one, but I have no doubt he helped those working on the middle installments, too.

The film isn’t exactly a success. It doesn’t quite come to the “heights” of the second film, but it does succeed the other chapters in a series whose best installment might be considered passable. If you like these things, this will be one you’ll want to see. If you don’t, it’s not going to even come close to changing your mind. I still maintain that the good version of these films will give you reason to care, and there’s none of that to be found here.

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is better than the first and third movie in this series, but only because it brings some creativity to the kills. That’s quite possibly the only thing that it does better than the other chapters, but that’s almost enough. I’ve gotten tired of seeing Jason cut people with a knife; as evidenced by the film’s opening montage, that gets boring really fast. If you want good acting, writing, plot, or scares, you’ll want to pass this film by. If you’re already a fan, you’ll have a good time.

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