While I was on vacation, trying to find my own Crystal Lake, two of your favorite reviewers both watched the same film, JASON X.
With The Captain being a horror fan, and 3way hating cheesy, will they come to terms on the 10th installment of the Friday the 13th franchise?
Jason X – The Captain’s Take
(And check out 3way’s Jason X – Review Pt 2 after.)
Jason X is the 10th entry into the Friday the 13th film series. And this time we are taken out of Crystal Lake and put into a spaceship in outer space, with all the best CGI the year 2001 could give us.
And just think, a couple years before this The Matrix came out. And boy can you tell, seeing as they slap our android character into some tight leather and have her go all gunfu on Jason’s ass. But like in Resident Evil, the guns are too big for her hands, so the android holds the guns awkwardly like Milla Jovovich does… It’s a strange scene that works, yet at the same time is completely laughable.
And that basically sums up this movie. It’s kind of great but also pretty laughable. I’ve seen worse in the series by far, but for some reason Jason X always gets the full force of hate by the fans of the series. So my goal for this review is to play devil’s advocate, trying my best to argue that Jason X might be the best one in the series. Or more realistically, at least not as bad as you might think.
For one, no more Tommy Jarvis. If you know your Friday the 13th, you know Tommy first popped up in The Final Chapter, played by a very young Corey Feldman. And we all know how he turned out.
Young Tommy defeated Jason by cutting off his hair to look like a younger version of Jason… to trick him? As you’ll see very early on, this series makes no fucking sense. They try their best throughout the years to make the series more original, more than just an unstoppable zombie killing teenagers, but each time they try that, it gets weird as fuck. Even trying to take us out of Crystal Lake, yes, I know, setting it in outer space… one point taken off for me.
But! Unlike say Jason Takes Manhattan, a film that takes place a majority on a boat, Jason X however actually has Jason in fucking space!
For some reason, call it creative constipation, horror franchises, if they’ve been around long enough, find themselves taking place in a space ship. Critters, Leprechaun, Hellraiser… I feel like I’m forgetting one. I wonder if Dracula 3000 counts. Setting it in space I guess is a way to bring new blood into the franchise. And no, not Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood. The one where they said fuck it, we can’t get the rights for him to fight Freddy yet, why don’t we just have him fight Carrie instead?
Here’s the thing, people know the name Jason Voorhees. Those playing the new Friday the 13th videogame right now I’m sure have never seen a single film featuring Jason. Yet everyone knows the character. Studios can look at a franchise like this and say, we don’t care what you do with it, just have him killing teenagers and we’re good. And that’s exactly what you expect from the series. Except for the one film where they cut out all the Jason kills.
Putting Jason in a different setting is really all you can do logically to make this franchise seem fresh and new. Like I mentioned, setting it in Manhattan or what that film really was, Jason takes a boat ride. The problem with that for one is they take a ship from Crystal Lake all the way to New York City. That must be one hell of a lake. Also, just jump off the damn boat. Oh no, Jason is going to get me, if only there was a way to escape! You’re on a boat. On a lake. Jump off and hope he is too busy killing your friends to bother with you. Then just jump into a car and drive away.
But, set it on a space ship, alone in outer space, you’ve got nowhere to run. No car to jump into. No police to call to come help you. No lake to swim across. It’s just you and Jason in the blackness of space. Which I think is why it’s so easy to come to this scenario when a horror franchise starts to run out of steam. It worked for Alien and the plethora of knockoffs that came after it. It might as well work for our slasher franchise as well.
Another point in my favor, Kane Hodder returns to play Jason Voorhees. Arguably he is the best Jason. Granted, it was in some of the worst films of the franchise. But he was always excellent. I kind of prefer zombie Jason over mutated deformed Jason, but that’s just me.
Back to Tommy Jarvis for a minute. For some reason the character shows up in three films, I don’t think he ever got his comeuppance. He might be the only survivor in this series. Jason always eventually gets you. The major problem with Tommy is he screws up the timeline. You first see him as a little kid. Then in the next film, he’s all grown up and kind of a mental patient. So maybe about 10 years have passed, making every film after it now set in the future, yet still looks very 80’s. Then the next time we see Tommy he’s the reason Jason is even resurrected. At this point Jason was dead, done, finished, a rotting corpse. And stupid ass Tommy digs him up and beats his body with a shovel, only to have it get struck by lightning, resurrecting Jason once again. What an asshole.
That brings us to this film’s continuity with the other Friday the 13th films. You don’t have to of seen the other films to know what’s going on. They basically retcon everything that happened in the last few movies. No more zombie Jason, no more little kid Jason, no more body hopping, Jason goes to hell Jason. Like I mentioned before, everyone already knows who Jason Voorhees is. So when you come into this film, even if it’s the first Friday the 13th film you’ve seen, you aren’t lost.
If you’re a fan of the series on the other hand… that’s when things get kind of dicey. Like I mentioned before, the last film that featured Jason, we saw him getting dragged down to hell by Freddy Krueger. When Jason X first opens, Jason has been caught, chained up in a facility somewhere near Crystal Lake, no longer looking like the swamp zombie we were now used to. That’s when we are introduced to… David Cronenberg? Why are you in this? He plays a military doctor that wants to remove Jason from the prison and to be studied. His ability to regenerate is something worth investigating.
In charge of looking after Jason is Rowan, played by Lexa Doig. Who you might remember from Stargate SG-1, married to Michael Shanks or currently as Talia al Ghul on Arrow. But when this movie came out, I knew her from one thing and that’s Andromeda. The early 2000’s tv series by Gene Roddenberry, starring a still bankable Kevin Sorbo. Funny thing is though, she’s not alone, this film also features Lisa Ryder, playing that said android Kay-Em 14, who was also a star on Andromeda. If you go back and look at a bunch of the actors in this, they’re all linked one way or another. My guess is because they’re Canadian, easily picking up work on series that shoot in Canada, like Stargate did and Arrow does.
Of course David Cronenberg’s character is quickly killed off. You know, I heard that it’s kind of a tradition for David Cronenberg and his wife to have sex on set for every film they shoot. Just an interesting tidbit that might not be true.
Anyway, back to Jason X’s amazing plot!
Jason gets free, kills everyone in the facility, chasing Lexa Doig down. She leads him to the cryochambers… oh, by the way, this is set in the far off future of 2010. Apparently our cryo technology is way more advanced than I ever knew. The plan is to lure Jason into a chamber, freezing him. Which she successfully does, but not before getting a belly full of machete.
As the room fills with coolant, the two go into an icy slumber, only to be awoken 455 years later. Earth is now an unlivable wasteland, but is still visited by people looking for research or shit they can sell. That’s when we are introduced to our dead meat… I mean cast of characters that will surely make it. No, they all die horribly.
Leading this band of easy Jason kills is Professor Lowe. He’s taking his class of medical students on a little field trip to earth. I only assume they’re medical students, they all seem to fit the type except for the one stoner kid with stupid hair. His father must be important, that’s how he got onboard maybe.
They discover Jason and Rowan, taking them back to their ship, but not before Jason indirectly cuts the stoner kid’s arm off. Don’t fear, this is the future. Severed arms are no big deal, thanks to nanites. As Jason defrosts, they manage to save Rowan, who seems less than enthusiastic to be on a giant space ship in outer space. Unless we also had that technology in 2010 as well. Yes, I know technically we do… you know what I mean.
Oddly enough, the stoner kid… not the one named Stoney. As the kids run off to different parts of the ship to get high and have sex, Jason finally wakes up and makes his first kill.
Shoving a young lady’s face into a vat of liquid nitrogen. What I thought would be a great call back, Jason unfortunately doesn’t chop off both arms of the stoner, instead I think he just tosses him hard against a wall. Jason interrupts their hologram videogame, killing their avatars instead. But like idiots they stop playing so Jason can kill them for real.
The nerdy and stoner characters never seem to last long in these films. That’s mostly changed now, making them the lone survivors or at least close to it like in Belko Experiment or Cabin in the Woods. I’m not sure what started the if you’re black in a horror film you die first trend. Maybe it was never a trend, just something spoofed in films like Scary Movie and Scream.
The only black character in this film is Sgt. Brodski, who will be our Hicks stand in. Sure the film has some Matrix inspirations, but really this is an Aliens rip off. Rowan is Ripley. Professor Lowe is Paul Reiser’s character Burke. Jason is the Xenomorph. Kay-Em 14 is Bishop… the list keeps going on and on. There’s a group of soldiers onboard the ship for some reason filled with students. There’s even a tough female soldier just like Private Vasquez from Aliens. There’s even a hunt for the alien scene down a long dark corridor, just like in Aliens. They get picked off one by one, just like in Aliens. I guess they figured there was no point in hiding the fact that this might draw some comparisons, so why hide it?
As Sgt. Brodski’s team gets quickly picked off, he himself is also mortally wounded. He may be down but he’s not out. Not yet. He’s the one to actually deliver the final blow to Jason, but by this time Jason is no longer just Jason. Thanks to some nanites, he is now Uber Jason. Who looks identical to Lord Zedd from Power Rangers. It was pretty distracting really. I remembered Uber Jason looking pretty cool. But now all I can see is Lord Zedd wanting to finally get those blasted Power Rangers.
One thing you can’t deny is the films two great moments. First, the scene where Professor Lowe is corned by Jason. Jason notices his old machete next to him. Professor Lowe hands back the old machete, having Jason discarding the new one, taking up the old one once again. Here is when Professor Lowe says mutters one of the funniest lines in the movie. Yelling to everyone else outside the room “Guys! It’s okay! He just wanted his machete back!”.
The other great moment is pretty infamous. That’s right, the part where they try to put nipples on the android, but keep falling off. Okay, that’s my favorite. What I really meant was the scene where they lead Jason back into the hologram room, showing him a simulation of Crystal Lake, there he runs into two girls enticing him to come party with them, resulting in Jason beating each other to death in their own sleeping bags.
All of this is a distraction so Sgt. Brodski can fix something outside the ship, so they can get off, leaving Uber Jason behind. But the hologram only works for so long until Jason is hot on everyone’s trail again. But before Jason can get to them, Sgt. Brodski shows up at the last minute, taking on Jason himself.
Then Sgt. Brodski just sort of rides him through earth 2’s atmosphere, burning them both up. Or did it. As the film fades, we focus on a shooting star over a new Crystal Lake on a new planet, a new killing ground for a new Jason. Honestly, that’s kind of a great ending. I mean, we never see any of that, all we get is a shot of his burnt metal mask. But it’s implied he’ll be back. Because he’s always back. It’s the 10th fucking film in the series, of course he’ll be back. And he does for two more movies. None of which I think are better than Jason X.
I think I made enough points now to say do yourself a favor and check this film out. If you’ve been holding out by not seeing this one, but you’ve seen the others, or! If you’ve never seen any of the Friday the 13th films, give this one a shot. I think you might be surprised. Kind of like Halloween 3, I can see this becoming a cult classic. Though it has been like 17 years, if it was going to be a big cult classic, it would have been already.
I’m not the biggest Friday the 13th fan. I found the first film to be a slogfest, there’s too many scenes of people doing nothing. Two was better, but drew too many comparisons to The Burning, which I think is a much better film. Also, the baghead Jason looked too much like the killer from The Town That Dreaded Sundown. It wasn’t until the 3rd film and much later that we get the more iconic version of Jason Voorhees we all know.
If there will ever be another Friday the 13th film, I don’t know. The closest you’ll get are the Hatchet films, which are my personal favorite. Or there’s always the new Friday the 13th videogame.
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