FRIDAY THE 13th: THE FINAL CHAPTER

Friday the 13th Part 4 Gordon

1984 – A merry band of sex-starved teenagers rents a cabin for the weekend. Jason Voorhees wakes up in the morgue. A single-parent household can’t find their dog. Heartbreak ensues. 

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

Young love is beautiful because it’s so fleeting. I’m sure everyone can remember their first dizzying foray into love, that unfamiliar rush of excitement. But along with those pleasant memories come some sad ones, because unless you’re one of a lucky few, that first love didn’t last. Sometimes you break up over a little fight, a minor disagreement. In the world of Friday the 13th, you break up because you get impaled through the groin with a harpoon. Same words, different language.

As I mentioned in my review of Friday the 13th Part 2, these movies have a lot to tell us about life, youth, love, and loss. So what lessons can The Final Chapter teach us?

Lesson #1: You can only really count on your (human) family. The Jarvis family is a tight-knit group. Mom, Trish, and the loathsome Tommy (Corey Feldman) are always doing group hugs and taking idyllic strolls together. Then there’s their dog, Gordon. Gordon is never around, and everyone is constantly looking for him. The mom gets killed going out to look for him, for Pete’s sake. If I was this family, I’d just stop looking for Gordon.

Toward the end of the movie, when Trish is creeping through a dark, corpse-filled house and needs a friend the most, what does Gordon do? He runs upstairs, freaks out, hurls himself through the window, and heads for the hills never to be seen again. Probably the least loyal dog in film history.

Lesson #2: Tell the people you love that you love them, before it’s too late. This one might seem a little trite, but consider the sad tale of Doug and Sara. Sara is a little bit shy and has never been with a guy. She makes up her mind to spend the night with Doug, and it seems like these two genuinely nice people are about to experience something wonderful. “I think I’m in heaven,” Doug says as Sara goes to get ready. “I think I’m in love,” she replies… but poor Doug doesn’t hear her. By the time Sara gets back, Jason has crushed Doug’s head against the shower wall.

Lesson #3: Stay with the people you love and don’t let go. Poor George McFly (a.k.a. Jimmy, played by the inimitable Crispin Glover)! The whole movie he’s shy and anxious, getting mocked for his lack of sexual prowess by his insensitive buddy. Then he manages to bed one of a set of twins, and she tells him he’s incredible. This is possibly the greatest night of his life. He decides to slip downstairs and have a celebratory drink of wine with the boys. Unfortunately can’t find the corkscrew; Jason has it. Exit Jimmy. Neither of the twins survives, either.

Lesson #4: Things don’t always end the way you want. Meet Rob, the tough young stud who is smitten with Trish. He’s the brother of Sandra from Part 2 (remember her? Neither did I… she’s the chesty girl who got speared in bed with her boyfriend) and is looking for revenge. The whole movie we think Rob’s going to have a dramatic showdown with Jason. Then he wanders into the dark basement and dies screaming pathetically: “Oh God he’s killing me! He’s killing me! Run, Trish, run! He’s killing me!” Man. What a let-down.

Jason doesn't knock.

Jason doesn’t knock.

Everybody seems to love this installment, but I wasn’t so high on it. There’s one sequence of kills that barely makes sense: Jason kills one twin at the “party house.” Then he goes across the street and kills Mrs. Jarvis. He comes back and kills Jimmy in the kitchen, then climbs up onto the porch roof (?) to throw the other twin out the window. Back downstairs to kill Ted! Back upstairs to kill Doug! Back downstairs (and outside) to kill Sara! I know Jason is always able to pop up where he’s least expected, but come on. Some of these characters were in adjacent rooms and didn’t hear a thing. This wasn’t a very big house. I just didn’t buy it.

Note the hideous couch and quilt.

Note the hideous couch and quilt.

It would have been an interesting twist to have a little kid as the main character in a Friday the 13th movie, but by the end I felt like I barely got to know little Tommy. Actually he seems to be a bit of a pervert, always spying on naked girls. Trish was a pretty forgettable final girl, although she gets an impressive moment when she waves a machete at Jason and snarls, “You son of a bitch, I’m gonna give you something to remember us by.” Really, I’m thinking Crispin Glover’s character should have been the “final guy.” He was by far the most interesting person in the movie.

One highlight for me: the brief glimpse we get of Chris from Part 3 being comforted by her parents in the hospital. Don’t cry, Chris: Jason won’t ever be coming back…

OR WILL HE?

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