I own a lot of movies. Nothing record breaking, but a quick estimate puts feature films around 300, with another 200 of TV, short films, and ephemera on DVD. Out of all of these, very few of the movies bother my wife. She is largely unflappable, regarding Naked Warriors AKA The Arena, Hercules and the Babylonians and Showgirls with either mild affection or bemused disinterest. There are a few though, like National Lampoon’s Van Wilder and Satan’s Little Helper that draw her ire. The two movies I just mentioned probably deserve it, actually, despite Ryan Reynold’s incredible charm. I just wish she’d give Jason X a chance.
It is with people like her in mind that I begin this exercise, an annotated re-viewing of the film. I will be accompanied by a 23 year old Rum, and a 1.5X fast forward that still plays all the voices. It is my assertion that the film is, when watched properly, not a mediocre horror movie, but a brilliant comedy.
Released in 2001, it had been 8 years since the previous Friday the 13th movie. That was part 9, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. It’s interesting, at least to me, that it was quickly followed by Freddy Vs. Jason in 2003. Apparently it’s easier to make Jason movies when Republicans are in office.
The film opens with what appears to be footage of hell. Slowly, it it turns into the opening credits from Spider-Man. This is Jason from the inside. They’re doing science to him at the Crystal Lake Research Facity. He’s being frozen. You know, to get him to the future. Before that though, he has to kill some dudes. Fortunately some Meddling Guys in Suits show up with expendable soldiers. They don’t want to freeze Jason, but study him. They die. Jason mortally wounds A Resourceful Woman, who then freezes them both.
Now it’s the future! Jason is discovered by, no shit, some kids on field trip. They’re visiting the ruined surface. The stoner is played for easy laughs, including Jason, still frozen, cutting his arm off.
They save the woman and start (THE FOOLS) doing science on Jason. They also use badly explained nanotechnology to put the stoner’s arm back on.
A Resourceful Woman wakes up, and starts Dr. Loomis-ing all over the place about how Jason is gonna kill everyone, and, of course, they ignore her because she’s from the past? And everything probably would be fine, but all over the ship people start doing it, which of course wakes Jason up. They literally start inter-cutting one couple boning with Jason stirring and have him wake up right as the woman climaxes. Genius.
Jason grabs the woman doing science to him, shoves her face in liquid nitrogen and then, because she isn’t dead enough, shatters her head.
The murders are hot and heavy now. There’s post coital trauma where one person is left alive for no real reason. Two guys in a holodeck who Jason kills twice. Overzealous soldiers doing property damage, then being picked off by a new, more Batman-y Jason. The best is when Sarge is impaled on a giant screw (why do they have that?) and slowly spirals down.
Of course the Future Meddling Guy in a Suit will hear nothing of A Resourceful Woman’s warnings. Soon all the actual soldiers are dead and it’s up to the Terrified Teenagers (and a robot?) to save the day.
None of this really captures the tone though. It’s a slasher movie, sure, but it’s also a comedy, an affectionate parody to be precise. There are two levels of jokes throughout: The cheesy, obvious jokes, and the more subtle (but not that subtle) self referential jokes. Jason X is a real parody, unlike the Scary Movie series. While those are just the tropes and ostensible setting of horror films used as a frame work for crappy dick jokes, Jason X actually works within the conventions of the slasher genre to comment on that genre. Specifically, it’s riffing on the long running franchise slasher flick that can no longer do anything but comment on itself. It’s like the winks and nods have their own winks and nods. The X in Jason X isn’t a Roman Numeral. It’s a nod to all that has come before.
This is perhaps epitomized by the second holodeck scene. In order to stall Jason, he’s tricked into a simulation of summer camp in the 1980s, but that’s not accurate. He’s in a cheesy ’80s movie version of summer camp in the ’80s, but even that isn’t right. He’s in a loving send-up of a cheesy ’80s summer camp movie. Two girls offer him beer and pot. They then take off their tops and shout “We love premarital sex!” in unison before climbing into their sleeping bags.
Jason picks one of them up and uses her as a bludgeon to beat the other to death.
Which is a reference to part 7.