Thursday, 7 March 2019

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning

So what does a fresh start mean for the Friday the 13th series? While director / co-writer Danny Steinmann doesn't deviate too heavily from the burly-man-tortures-sex-mad-teens format, long time fans might be impressed with how Friday the 13th: A New Beginning plays with established formula. First of all this sequel (mercifully) doesn't make us sit through a recap of the previous film. It was always a strange choice anyway - more often reminding the audience precisely how these episodes fail to knit together. The dream sequence that typically concludes an instalment is used upfront as well, allowing the film to hit the ground running with an accelerated clip of pure, incomprehensible chaos. Shame the rest of the piece isn't so manic.

Jason's apparent death during Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter means we're in need of a new killer, some fresh blood to spice up proceedings. Unfortunately, even divorced from Jason Voorhees the person, the filmmakers cannot summon up the courage to leave behind his methodology. New Beginning offers up a copycat, with the same hockey mask / boilersuit fashion sense, working through their damage by slaughtering pretty much anyone they come into contact with. The murderer can teleport about just like Voorhees too, arriving at destinations mere seconds after his sprinting quarry, despite the monster's languid, mocking gait.

It's a shame the film doesn't lean more heavily into the idea that this isn't Jason, it's someone fallible and human attempting to emulate him. New Beginning's killer shouldn't be so silent and invincible, it only serves to underline the con of producing a sequel without the one character everyone wants to see. A spluttering, screeching madman pushing himself through the sort of injuries a movie murderer can't help but pick up would at least add a note of newness. One thing that New Beginning does get right though is how it allows certain characters to fight back. Melanie Kinnaman's Pam, an assistant director at the mental health treatment facility at the centre of the story, is allowed to pick up a chainsaw and assume the role of the cornered lioness denied to Joan Freeman in the previous film.

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