Review by Thomas Scalzo
Posted on 30 October 2006
Source Paramount DVD
Features: 31 Days of Horror
With Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the legend of Jason Voorhees begins to acquire the grandiose dimensions with which it is now associated. For starters, at least a few of the souls involved here know who Jason is. Compared with the oblivious players of Part III, this is a substantial development, both in terms of the fear and helplessness Jason is able to inspire. Second, and most importantly, the film introduces the transference-of-evil theme; the idea that Jason’s demonic soul is not confined within his earthy frame, but free to associate with whatever pliable soul happens by—a circumstance that gives Jason an omnipotence unseen in run-of-the mill slashers.
Up until the transference idea comes into play, however, the story sticks pretty close to the previous installment, picking up precisely where Part III leaves off—“dead” Jason lying in the barn, a machete in his head. From there, we’re whisked to the morgue, where Jason invariably revives, and begins his latest bloodletting. In addition to the requisite group of teens out for a mindless party, however, Part 4 features a forest-dwelling family unit, and a lone hunter purportedly stalking the woods in search of bear. Such attempts to flesh out the expected slasher characterizations are much appreciated, as are the excellent performances of both a young Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover.
However, once the teens are dead (sadly, most of the deaths here — save the skinny dipping stabbing — aren’t very memorable), and Corey Feldman conveniently stumbles across a packet of newspaper clippings highlighting Jason’s murderous exploits, the film reaches an impressive crescendo of both disturbing and intriguing horror, treating us to a creepy slow-motion climax and introducing the transference-of-evil idea—a narrative brainstorm that significantly expands the plot potential of the series to come.
Of course, as this addition to the Voorhees myth comes at the end of a film entitled The Final Chapter, it is reasonable to assume that the makers of this installment inserted such a device simply to make for an interesting ending. Little did they know that for the next twenty years, Friday supporters and detractors alike would spend countless hours debating the minutia of Jason’s powers (Is he undead? Is he an evil spirit from beyond time?), or that at the time of this writing, the saga of Jason Voorhees would still be a work in progress.