Nine Friday the 13th Movies. Nine. I didn’t watch Jason X or Freddy Vs. Jason because I have some semblance of self-respect – also because they weren’t playing on Amazon Prime. I guess the only thing that comes to mind when I think about the 18ish hours of hockey masked slasher action that I’ve watched is, “What the fuck?” Seriously what the fuck is happening in these movies? Is there a through line from Friday the 13th to Friday the 13th 3D other than a string of dead teens? The first two films make total sense together (more or less), but beyond those two pieces of classic horror cinema it’s hard to make heads or tails of the series. I'm not going to review the movies one by one because if I did that I would lose my mind. This is more of a loose collection of thoughts on the canonical series as a whole- although I suppose that Jason X and FvJ are also a part of the canon, for the time being let’s call them “non-amazon prime canon” or NAPC.
I hate to say this but after watching all 9 films in such a short span of time (7 days I think), and without taking notes, the things that stick out to me are mostly the worst parts of the films: The “Enchilada” scene, Crispin Glover, and the horror film obsessed Tommy Jarvis - one of the most poorly executed characters in cinema history. Tommy should have been a woman, no questions asked. The dynamic between Jason (or any slasher) and a female protagonist carry so much more weight because of the visual of a hulking beast with crushing mother issues chasing down a young woman, even with the ridiculous hockey mask it's an all too real fear. By casting a trio of Tommy Jarvises into a series of loosely connected narratives the films turn into a disappointing dick measuring contest (aren’t they all?) that culminates with an ending that I can’t even remember. I think Jason ends up chained to the bottom of Crystal Lake and Tommy sets himself on fire.
It’s impossible to avoid looking for meaning in a horror film. More so than any other type of cinema they exist in the subconscious void where anything can happen. A lightning strike that brings a masked killer back from the dead? Sure. A psychic teen who can throw mind knives at her therapist, and who may have accidentally willed that same masked killer to murder her father? Go for it. The Friday the 13th series takes advantage of its ability to do anything, but their actions rarely mean anything. There is nothing to decipher other than the obvious.
Here’s what I’ve learned from watching 9 Friday the 13th movies in less than a week:
- Never Swim In A Lake That's Recently Undergone A Mysterious Name Change
- Creepy Kids Are Creepy For A Reason
- Dads Are The Worst
- Moms: Also Not Great
Maybe there was nothing left to teach after Friday the 13th Part 2. Everyone had already figured out that the teens that cracked open the first beer or had sex the moment they arrived at camp would be the quickest to get the axe, so why not lean into it? If you’re going to end up with a machete in your head you might as well have fun.