by Del Harvey
New and improved, the heavy breather of horror is back.
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Nine years after his last outing in Jason Goes To Hell, the terror of Crystal Lake has returned to the big screen in an oddball premise that’s sure to leave some people scratching their heads. That is, if they can get them out of the barf bag long enough. It is the year 2455, and a professor takes his students on a field trip to the now defunct planet Earth, where they discover a cryogenically frozen Jason and transport him back to their spaceship. Jason Voorhees, the silent goalie-masked killer, has been on ice for a few hundred years, but through a catastrophic accident, he is awakened and more than willing to pick up where he left off—finding new and interesting ways to murder people.
The first film in the series, Friday the 13th, was unleashed upon the public back in 1980, and featured an unknown Kevin Bacon in a minor role. Now they’re up to the 10th film in the series, and they’ve taken the unkillable horror known as Jason into space and given him a makeover.
New Line’s Jason X is a combination sci-fi/horror/slasher pic with plenty of gut-lurching jolts and flashes of crimson that series fans expect. In fact, this film just might offend viewers not amused by the series’ sick sense of humor. This one is very heavy on the special effects, and that’s not just the gore factor.
The film opens with the usual senseless slaughter, but this time unstoppable mass killer Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is cryogenically frozen along with Rowan (Lexa Doig), a brave young woman who somehow traps him in ice. As we all know, anything you do to Jason is temporary at best. Director Jim Isaac’s film fast forwards to the year 2455, where Jason and Rowan are still frozen but are about to be discovered by a group of space-bound archaeology students and their teacher (Jonathan Potts), who are investigating the remains of “Old Earth.”
The screenwriter is Todd Farmer, who has constructed a brutally imaginative setting for Jason to play out his Grand Guignol. The space stuff turns out to be a fitting backdrop for Jason’s hacking and hewing, until he unwittingly causes the destruction of a major human outpost in space. And since the Earth is no longer habitable, the kids have a real problem on their hands.
Jason encounters a few mishaps along the way, but the ship’s nanomachines repair his missing pieces and mashed head using metal, giving him even more strength, not to mention an ultra-cool Terminator look. The cast features the typical lineup of victims and erstwhile heroes, including the robot KAY-EM 14 (Lisa Ryder), Tsunaron (Chuck Campbell), Sgt. Brodski (Peter Mensah) and Janessa (Melyssa Ade). Of particular interest to horros fans: filmmaker David Cronenberg is one of Jason’s victim in the film’s opening sequences.
Jason X boasts superior production values, including makeup supervised by Oscar winner Stephan DuPuis (The Fly) and production design by John Dondertman (Mimic).
Don’t let old Jason know I said this, but the film’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Moving the franchise into space barely breathes new life into the old carcass. In any case, this is one that the fans will love. If you just want a good horror flick, there are plenty of more fun and entertaining horror flicks to rent at your local video store.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly. He is a devout Bears fan, a lover of Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.
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