Last night, my friend Evelyn and I stayed up way too late and we watched the 10th film in the Friday the 13th franchise, 2002′s Jason X. I was watching it for a second time because I’ve been reviewing the Friday the 13th films for this site. Evelyn was watching it for the first time because she’s my BFF, we were having ourselves a girl’s night in, and she’s willing to watch anything with me because she has complete faith in my taste in movies .*
Anyway, after the end credits rolled, we both immediately agreed on one thing: Jason X sucks. Seriously.
Jason X is yet another one of the Friday the 13th gimmick films. This time the gimmick is (all together now): JASON. IN. SPAAAAAAAAACE! However, before we get into space, the film opens in the “near future” of 2010. Apparently, there is now some sort of underground, government controlled lab underneath Lake Crystal Lake and being held prisoner there is Jason Voorhees (played, for the last time, by Kane Hodder). Apparently, the government has spent the last two years trying to figure out a way to kill the bound Jason but his cells keep regenerating. (No mention of demonic slugs for this film!) Government scientist Rowan LaFontaine (Lexa Doig) wants to freeze Jason but another scientist, Dr. Wimmer, wants to use Jason as a weapon. We know Dr. Wimmer is evil because he’s played by David Cronenberg.
Anyway, while Dr. Wimmer and Rowan are arguing about the ethics of exploiting an undead serial killer, Jason manages to escape and kills everyone in the underground lab except for Rowan. She manages to freeze him in a cryogenic pod but gets frozen herself in the process.
Nearly 500 years later, Earth has been abandoned because Al Gore was right (yawn!) and the planet is now too polluted to live on. Humanity had relocated to Another Earth. However, students occasionally conduct field trips to the old Earth and one of those field trips comes across Jason and Rowan, still in deep freeze. The students take the two of them back to their spaceship, thaw them out, and — needless to say — things don’t end well for the majority of them.
Jason X was made, of course, because Jason Vs. Freddy had spent the previous 9 years languishing in development Hell. Jason X was New Line’s way of reminding people that they owned the Friday the 13th franchise and it certainly managed to do that, though it didn’t bring that many people to the theaters. (Jason X is the second-lowest grossing film in the series.) The reviews, at the time, were scathing and it’s easy to see why: the special effects looked incredibly cheap, everything about the film’s vision of the future (from the garish set design to the ugly costuming choices) felt tacky, and the acting was terrible. Lisa Ryder, who played the perpetually cheerful robot KM 14, had a role that should have been actor-proof but she still managed to give a memorably bad performance, the worst moment being when she let out a weak-sounding “Yeah,” after it was incorrectly felt that she had killed Jason.)
The one exception: Kane Hodder. In this unworthy little film, Hodder probably gives his best performance in the role of Jason. Here, Jason is less an undead serial killer and more just an old man who is sick of kids wandering across his lawn. He kills less because he’s evil and more because he’s just frustrated at being surrounded by so many stupid people.
And after watching Jason X, ever though you still can’t sympathize with him, it’s harder to blame him.
* Evelyn has requested that I make it clear that the main reason she ended up watching Jason X with me was because she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”