In space, no one can hear you scream: No one will hear much screaming either in cinemas showing "Jason X," the unfortunate 10th outing in the inexplicably long-running "Friday the 13th" series.
In space, no one can hear you scream: No one will hear much screaming either in cinemas showing “Jason X,” the unfortunate 10th outing in the inexplicably long-running “Friday the 13th” series. Pandering to indiscriminate horror/sci-fi/fantasy buffs who’ve had their fill of “The Scorpion King” but need a quick fix before “Spider-Man,” pic is further proof that titular antagonist Jason Voorhes is ready for retirement — to videostore shelves.
It’s been nearly a decade since Voorhes last appeared, in 1993’s “Jason Goes to Hell,” which ended with the apparent fulfillment of its prophetic title. The new “Jason X” is a halfhearted effort to infuse some self-referential humor into this sagging enterprise while staying true to the grisly gore that has always been the franchise’s signature trait. But pic’s a far cry from even the least of Wes Craven’s “Scream” films — the obvious inspiration for bringing Jason back to bigscreen life.
Throwing continuity to the wind, pic opens in the near future at the Crystal Lake Research Facility, where a team of government scientists has captured and is about to cryogenically freeze our titular, hockey mask-wearing fiend Jason (played for the fourth time by stunt man Kane Hodder). Lo and behold, David Cronenberg shows up — he’s playing a big, important government-type — and demands the right to cart Jason away unfrozen. Don’t worry, he assures naysaying lab tech Rowan (Lexa Doig), everything will be fine.
As the film’s press notes warn, “as usual, things go horribly wrong.” (It’s a shame the movie itself doesn’t have such deadpan wit.) Before the first reel changeover, Cronenberg and his team have been butchered, and only Rowan remains. She lures Jason into the cryogenic chamber and begins the freezing process, but she has forgotten about Jason’s trusty machete, which he plunges through the chamber door (giving us a good idea of how cheap the movie’s sets are), causing Rowan to freeze up, too.
Taking a page from recent entries in the mercifully less-numerous “Hellraiser” and “Leprechaun” series, the gimmick here is that Jason gets launched into outer space. After that gruesome prologue, pic flashes forward “4.55 centuries” to a group of randy students (think “Starship Troopers”) cruising the galaxy on a spaceship that doubles as an interplanetary med school. Exploring “Old Earth,” the kids come across the preserved bodies of Jason and Rowan and take them back aboard, believing they can revive Rowan but that Jason is beyond saving.
Before long, of course, Jason manages to thaw out, too, and he’s none too pleased to find that the students have already begun dissecting him. Much carnage ensues and, as the cast drops like flies, you’re hardly sorry to see any of them go. But in the end, “Jason X’s” apparent inability to come up with a single original idea and its bloody pillaging of other venerable genre franchises, from “Alien” to “Star Trek,” are more terrifying than anything in the film.
The preceding nine “Friday the 13th” pictures were consistent in their lack of imagination. (Without Robert Englund’s sly commentary or Donald Pleasence’s exasperated gasp, they were collectively the least memorable of the 1980s’ horror staples.) In fairness, “Jason X” isn’t appreciably worse, but there’s a certain creepiness to the shaded woods of Camp Crystal Lake that is wholly lost upon transposing pic’s action to outer space. The look and feel of this film is lower rent than any of the space travel films Roger Corman made, while pic’s cast has been outfitted in the most eye-poppingly atrocious costumes this side of Starfleet Academy.