Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives

Jason's back! He only missed one instalment and the copycat killer who subbed for him did his level best to perfectly simulate Mr Voorhees - even down to a complete indifference to ruinous pain - but who cares? Jason's back! Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives can't get enough of The Big Man, portraying him as a stomping menace to be watched and adored. The long-running concept of the masked murderer as a floating, omniscient presence constantly circling our heroes is replaced here by a centre frame predator thundering through the woods, jealously guarding his Camp Blood territory. Nobody's safe this time, the rotting mutoid expanding his portfolio of pulverisation to include drippy executives frowning their way through corporate team-building activities.

Writer-director Tom McLoughlin steers away from Friday the 13th: A New Beginning's insinuation that scarred survivor Tommy Jarvis has assumed the Jason mantle, repurposing the character as a handsome teen suffering under the terrible knowledge that not only is Jason not an urban legend, as everyone seems to believe here, but his desire to impotently stab at the psycho's maggot-ridden corpse has actually resulted in his resurrection. Lightning is known for its life-giving properties after all - well, as far as monsters are concerned anyway. Jarvis is joined by Jennifer Cooke's Megan Garris, a fearless Sheriff's daughter who humours Jarvis' ravings not just because she thinks he's hot but also because the prospect of driving around really fast in a sports car sounds much more fun than babysitting children.

This brattiness extends to the visual and mechanical language of Jason Lives. Not only does the film have competing plots and arcs, it also finds time for humorous edits and genuinely funny sight gags. Six films deep into a franchise that has, at best, a scattershot approach to even basic continuity, McLoughlin has decided to worry less about the mystique of Jason The Invincible Murderer and more about how he can still be milked for entertainment. A basic correction like placing Jason in-front of rather than behind (or maybe more accurately inside) the camera allows the figure to register as a curiousity. We even get to see Voorhees in a private moment, mindlessly hacking away at the body of somebody he's already killed. When he notices he's being watched, Jason pauses, abashed, before reality realigns and he realises social embarrassment holds no power over him.

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