Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) – Danny Steinmann

1985 gave us perhaps the worst entry in the Friday the 13th franchise. The fifth film, in the series, delivers us a Jason movie without Jason in it. The story picks up a half a decade (?) after the previous film as Tommy (played by Corey Feldman in the previous film, and briefly in this entry has grown up to become John Shepherd) finds himself being shipped to another mental health facility as he is still haunted by the events of the previous film, and the vengeance he wrought on Jason, which may have pushed him over the edge.

Tommy doesn’t even attempt to settle in to this new location, which, surprise, surprise, has a bevy of beauties ready to shed their tops, and find themselves murdered as someone, Jason Voorhees according to the local Sheriff (Marco St.John), begins to soak the ground around Tommy with blood.

Let’s just go back to the Sheriff for a moment. He thinks Jason did this. Jason, who at this point, has been dead and buried for a number of years now because Tommy has grown up. I’d be sending the Sheriff to get his mental abilities checked out.

But if this film is happening concurrently with some of the other films in the series, then perhaps that belief makes more sense. Kind of.

Tom Savini’s brilliant make-up and practical effects are blatantly missing from this film, and in fact, few of the kills actually occur on screen. A lot are suggested and implied, and we get a look at the results, but not a lot happens while the camera is watching.

Sadly, outside of the brief appearance by Feldman, there isn’t any real standout casting, or performances. Everything is run of the mill for this entry, and the Scooby-Doo reveal of the real killer isn’t much of a surprise having been telegraphed earlier in the film. And Jason fans know it isn’t Voorhees because of the different mask markings.

I honestly like the idea of a haunted Tommy wrestling with events that traumatised him as a child. Unfortunately with no character development in the film that introduced him (The Final Chapter) and none in this one, you can’t feel any empathy or sympathy for him. With no definable arc, or character beats to see growth and change, there’s absolutely nothing to engage the audience in the character’s journey.

He’s no better than the cardboard characters that surround him and end up getting slaughtered.

Despite those drawbacks, the film proved successful enough to warrant another sequel, and this one course corrects to put Jason Vorhees back where he belongs, even if that means he had to be brought back to life (Frankenstein style) and seems to be tinged with a little supernatural.

Next time we check out 1986’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives!


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