Jason goes to hell, and not a moment too soon. His descent has been far too long in coming, as the exhausted, witless “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday” demonstrates. But that’s about all that the ninth, allegedly final, and supposedly explanatory chapter in the popular “Friday the 13th” series makes clear. B.O. outlook appears modest, unless the last-installment angle disinters longtime series fans.
With one or two exceptions, freshman director Adam Marcus forgoes the camp humor and inside jokes that marked the tail end of the slasher craze, opting instead for a straightforward Saturday night drive-in approach.
It worked for John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” but it doesn’t work here.
Blame Marcus for the film’s complete lack of tension and style, but also point a machete or two at a bland, occasionally inept cast and scripters unable to contribute a single innovation to the genre.
“Jason” attempts to explain Jason — his origins, his secrets for a long, long life and the means by which he can be sent to his just reward.
That it’s all remarkably silly is to be expected and perhaps even relished, but pic doesn’t even play by its own rules. Aside from some somber mumbo-jumbo about Jason’s family tree, the film doesn’t even make a stab at explaining the supernatural transpirings.
Following a plot twist that occurs within pic’s first 15 minutes, Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is slaughtered by an Uzi-toting SWAT team. Later, a gruesome autopsy reveals an oversized, malformed heart beating and oozing black bile. Within seconds, the coroner is chowing down on the grotesque ticker, thus allowing the spirit of Jason to enter him and explaining, sort of, how the hockey-masked slasher outwits death.
This time around, Jason is after his only living relatives — a sister, a niece and the niece’s infant. Enter Creighton Duke (Steven Williams), a bounty hunter specializing in serial killers, who inexplicably knows that Jason can only be killed by blood kin. If the killer dispatches the last of his relatives, he’ll live forever.
Plot, of course, is merely an excuse to see Jason julienne his way through a series of scantly clad teenage campers, stupid cops and, best of all, a sleazy tabloid TV reporter. The killings seem fairly tame by slasher standards, although their number and the gratuitous skin shots warrant the R rating.
Marcus and screenwriters Dean Lorey and Jay Huguely toss in more than a little “Alien,” as the slimy creature that represents Jason’s spirit enters and exits any number of humans. Marcus tips that he’s aware of the thieving by showing a crate marked “Arctic expedition” during a particularly “Thing”-like episode.
Tech credits, especially the grainy focus, betray the film’s modest budget, and even the special effects seem second-rate. Zombie makeup looks about as convincing as the original “Night of the Living Dead.” After this one, even Jason diehards won’t mourn his passing.