The Franchise Files – Jason X (2002)
I’ve been dreading the day where I inevitably have to write about the 10th installment in the Friday the 13th Jason X. This is, without a doubt, one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Not in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way, either. No. This movie is just bad.
The story follows…you know what, I don’t care. The story does not matter. It’s Jason in space. That’s the only way to really make sense of what is going on, and frankly, do you even care? He’s been frozen in time at the “Crystal Lake Research Facility” until the year 2455. Some dumb kids go on a field trip from “Earth II” to just “Earth” and find Jason. They put him on a ship, and he goes nuts. Later, he morphs into his machete. Or something. It’s insane. It’s insane that this is a real movie.
In writing this, I’m laughing, so that’s something good, I suppose. Writing out this horrendous plot is making me smile – something the film itself has never done once in all the unfortunate times that I’ve seen it. I hate my life.
I’d like to think that I’m a fair guy, though. So, just telling you that it’s bad isn’t enough; that’s not really being fair. Instead, let’s talk about this movie’s numerous shortcomings, and I’ll try to be civil about it.
First off, the most glaring flaw with this film is the plot. It’s not just hard to understand like the previous Jason film from 1993. It’s just plain stupid. There is no reason to send Jason to space. Keep him in summer camp. The key to success in a Friday the 13th movie is consistency. It’s time to face the facts. We’ve seen him go to New York. We’ve seen him shapeshift. Now, we’ve seen him in space, and we can finally admit to ourselves that the only way that this character works is by keeping him in the woods. It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s true.
The story goes that as Freddy vs. Jason was still in limbo, screenwriter Todd Farmer pitched the idea of taking Mr. Voorhees into space to New Line, and it was the only idea considered. “Genius!” they must have thrown their hands up into the air and exclaimed. “This will make us money! People are stupid! They’ll watch anything!” And so, Jason got on a spaceship and went to the future.
Which can be done successfully. Although it’s gotten a bad reputation, the fourth Hellraiser film, Bloodline, saw Pinhead in the past, the present, and in the future – spaceship and all. It was a highly ambitious film and worked despite the outlandish idea. That was in 1996. Jason X was released in 2004 and looks much worse than Hellraiser. The sets here look about as convincing as a bottom-tier SyFy original. The CGI is overbearing and looks like you’re watching a screensaver on a Windows 98 computer. Worse yet are the ridiculous outfits and overall characterizations of every single character in the film.
The dialogue is bad. It’s just not good. I know I’m trying to be fair, but there is no way around it. It contains every horrible late nineties horror cliché known to man, and then some. The characters are so stupid here that you want them to die. And when they do, it’s not even satisfying, despite the surprisingly original kills.
It is in this aspect only that the movie does something right. Some of these kills are actually really cool. Anyone who has seen the “frozen face smash” can attest to that. The issue is that every other part of this movie is so bad that they become unforgivable as well by association.
This would be the last film to feature Kane Hodder as Jason, and it really is a shame. The man played a great Jason, but unfortunately, he played a great Jason in some of the worst Friday the 13th films. Despite his performance as the hulking killer, he would not be invited back for the next film, Freddy vs. Jason, which would be released in 2003. The short gap in release dates in this instance was brought on by the release of Space Jason being shelved for a while; the film was completed a couple of years earlier. Which may explain some things about it, but still doesn’t make it any better.
Todd Farmer would go on to direct the My Bloody Valentine remake in 2009, and he’d also do a damn good job on it. This makes me very happy, because if he didn’t I would probably be mad at him for the rest of my life. I won’t mention the director’s name out of respect – if you want to know, you can look it up for yourself. The actors either. I don’t want to be held responsible.
Thankfully, things will get better in the world of the hockey mask in the next installment of the Franchise Files…if you stay with me, that is. Hey, it’s not my fault. I didn’t create Jason X.