If longtime fans of the "Friday the 13th" saga have anything to say about it, the people behind this film will burn in the same place as its hockey-masked star. "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" is completely preposterous, out of place and an affront to what had been a dependable horror series.
Admittedly, director and co-writer Adam Marcus deserves credit for his boldness. He seemed inexplicably convinced that the wheel of the "Friday" series needed to be drastically reinvented, even though fans had lined up for basically the same plot eight times prior. But the brainwave of having Jason possessing one body after another alters the very fabric of what made these films good. Suddenly it's like we're watching an "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" rip-off. Throw in Jason's newfound grunting, a far-too-heavy plot and a magical dagger (!) and you have something completely unworthy of the "Friday" moniker.
"Jason goes to Hell" is also incredibly lazy. All "Friday" films, by their very nature, require a leap of faith, but this is really too much. Firstly, this marked the first time that no explanation was given for Mr. Voorhees' reemergence. Were we all dreaming when we watched him get melted down to goo in the sewers of New York City? And what about Jason's rebirth toward the end (the most ridiculous moment of any "Friday" film)? How can a little slimy demon be reborn into a man already wearing ripped clothing and a hockey mask? And what about bounty hunter Creighton Duke? It's never explained how he knows so much about Jason and the mythical circumstances surrounding his life. In each of these instances, there seemingly are no easy answers. So rather than be inventive, the writers just threw all of this at us and hoped we would lap it up like thirsty kittens at a milk dish. This sequel completely ignores the continuity of the Jason legend that had been meticulously built up over the years.
What's equally tragic about "Jason goes to Hell" is its insistence on mocking the series. At one point, John D. LeMay's character sarcastically asks a trio of teens headed for Camp Crystal Lake whether they plan to smoke dope, engage in premarital sex and then get slaughtered. Har har. The transformation of Jason into some kind of media star is just as unnerving. Jason is a legend, a mythical figure whispered about in wildly imaginative campfire stories. Yet this movie turns him into a serial killer so well known he makes the TV tabloids and is targeted by the FBI. This is not the Jason we know, and "Jason goes to Hell" is not the "Friday the 13th" we love. It essentially breaks the fingers of the hand that feeds it.
The failure of "Jason goes to Hell," both in terms of concept and box office revenue, inevitably draws comparisons to the much-panned "Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning." That film drew plenty of boos for its Jason-less gimmick, but at least it had the feel of a "Friday" flick. "Jason goes to Hell" is substantially worse than any other entry, mainly because it is completely unrecognizable. Like "Part V," it probably would have worked better as a horror film independent of the Jason saga, rather than dragging Mr. Voorhees into a place he has no business being.
Clearly, Adam Marcus was wrong. The "Friday the 13th" wheel did not need reinventing. The failure of this film (and "Jason X" years later) shows that fans want a return to simpler times when horny teens in cabins were afraid to look out their windows. As the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.