Film Review: Jason X - Too Many People Heard Screaming From Space

With six years passing since the last Jason film hit theaters (Jason Goes To Hell) and no end in sight for the development of Freddy vs Jason, Producer Sean Cunningham decided it was time to churn out another film in the Friday The 13th film franchise. With so many movies made before with the same formula, sans Jason Goes To Hell, the brain trust decided to take Jason away from his familiar Crystal Lake surroundings once again and place him into an even more foreign territory, outer Space. If one lesson was not learned from one particular previous entry in the franchise, it was that fans want Jason in Crystal Lake and not off somewhere else on some half-hearted adventure. In Jason X, fans apparently were not taken into account, at least not with regards to locale.

Writer Todd Farmer crafted a very original and entertaining script for Jason in Space, and lets face it, with this being the ninth sequel and having Jason stalking in a space ship, the film does have its fun and exciting moments. Lets start with the negatives first and foremost, and yes some fans will say Jason in Space, 400 years in the future is a negative all in itself. For the purposes of this review, I will concentrate on other aspects of the story and certain scenes. For one, the idea that Jason is in a research facility under Crystal Lake is pretty silly. He can be sedated and then guarded by only one guy in a huge open warehouse-like space? If the film had any kind of  budget, I would expect a lot more guards and set pieces appearing in the opening scenes.

That leads me to the overall look of the film. It just feels cheap and as if characters are running through tunnels in sound stages, which they are. I suppose that could be looked at as the charm of the film, but I like to leave that for pioneering films of the Sc-Fi/Horror genre like Alien. Me being a fan of Jason Voorhees and the overall film franchise, I am willing to overlook the silly premise of Jason in Space and root for the filmmakers to make the concept work, but when the film feels cheap when it should look bigger in production values than a SyFy made for television movie, I kind of feel cheated. The only other complaint I have of the movie is the score. What happened with this film Harry Manfredini? I was more disappointed with the score than any other part of the movie. By far, it is the worst score in the entire film franchise, even more so than Friday The 13th 2009!

With all that being said, there are a lot of fun and exciting scenes in Jason X, especially some inventive kill sequences, highlighted by Jason stalking the Marines, who are subsequently looking for our 400 plus year old anti-hero. Jason dispatches the Marines in classic Friday The 13th manner. There is the now infamous and iconic face smash of the Adrienne character for which her head is dipped in liquid nitrogen first before being broken into pieces on a counter. Another favorite scene of mine is when Jason picks up Stony in the VR room, breaks his back and then discards of his body by flipping him onto the ground. The top view angle of the death is really cool and different from other movies in the series.

Being in a different environment, Jason was able to do some outrageous things, most of which work, but the big payoff comes towards the end of the film where Jason is transported to Camp Crystal Lake 1980. For a lot of fans, this was a huge letdown scene as many were expecting so much more than what was in the final scene. Although, I would have liked to have seen Jason stalk a few counselors in a nice little retro 5 minute scene at the camp, I was still was satisfied by Jason being transported to his old stomping grounds with the classic Harry Manfredini Friday the 13th score (I wish the whole film had this music rather than what the fans had to endure).

The final point to bring up is Uber-Jason. This topic has pained a lot people whereas some really like the concept and design of a metallic Jason and most other fans despise the very idea. This writer has always been 50/50 with the hybrid Jason. On one hand, I never liked the fact that the Friday The 13th film franchise had been reduced to Jason being rebuilt as a cyborg in Space. However, when you get by the obnoxious idea of that fact, Jason Voorhees as a Terminator-like being is beautiful to look at on-screen and Kane Hodder does a wonderful job portraying Jason even more menacing as Uber-Jason.

Take Jason X for what it is, a Sci-Fi/Horror romp in Space that puts Jason into a foreign surrounding and pushes play on his homicidal tendencies. If you have an open mind and like Sci-Fi, then this movie definitely satisfies your needs. If you don't like Sci-Fi, are of an old school thought when it comes to Friday The 13th,  and most definitely are opposed to taking Jason Voorhees out of Crystal Lake, then Jason X will look like a stinker of epic proportions.

My stance on the film is much like that of the idea of Uber-Jason. I am 50/50 by way of not liking the concept of Jason in Space, but fully enjoying the characters and action that are delivered in the film. My big complaint is the cheap look of the movie overall and the awful score. Alternatively, the actors turn in fun and exceptional performances and the late Jim Isaac does a wonderful job of filming the action scenes. In the end, Friday The 13th fans expressed their displeasure, following along the lines of the original ad slogan for Alien, "In Space, no one can hear you scream". In the case of Jason X, however, too many people were heard screaming, "No!". I have to half agree with them.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Machetes

Review By: Jason Parker

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