Jason X is actually the 10th installment in the Friday the 13th series, which garnered mass appeal in the “˜80s with its heavy themes of teenage sex, bloodletting, teenage sex, more bloodletting, and even more teenage sex. Like other horror series trying to find their way in the new millennium, Jason X is trying to disassociate itself with its past (notice the title change). The hope is to draw in a new audience now that the old audience has grown up, had kids, and are forbidding their kids to see movies such as Jason X, probably the same way their parents forbade them to see the original Friday the 13th over 2 decades ago.
Lexa Doig (TV’s “Andromeda”) stars as Jason X’s heroine, scientist Rowan, who finds herself cryogenically frozen alongside the (once again) rampaging Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) sometime in the early 21st century. The two are discovered 400 years in the future by a class on a field trip back to “Earth 1″ — the Earth we know, now an uninhabitable and desolate wasteland. The class, led by Professor Lowe (Jonathan Potts) brings both frozen bodies back to their ship, where Sgt. Brodski (Peter Mensah) and his small gang of tough Marines provide security. Lowe’s group brings Rowan back to life, and before you can say, “Maybe we shouldn’t have brought Jason onboard, too,” Jason Voorhees has awaken from his long slumber, found a replacement for his precious machete, and is once again chopping up teenagers engaged in premarital sex!
There is no doubt Todd Farmer, the writer of Jason X, knows his subject matter very well. Jason X is filled with wanton slaughter, severed body parts, decapitations, and plenty of splattered blood. There are impalings, obliterated faces, and even a body being sucked out into space via a small hole, leaving behind guts trails. The point is, Jason X delivers what it promises. There is plenty of lame humor, a lot of one-liners courtesy of Melyssa Ade who plays a wisecracking student. Everyone is a stereotype, and everything is predictable. But so what? This is Friday the 13th, not Remains of the Day.
It’s obvious from the first “future” sequence that Jason X had a limited budget. While director James Isaac tries to spruce things up with some nice CGI and computer effects in the beginning, the rest of the movie — until the very end — is devoid of said CGI and computer effects. Isaac, a long-time visual effects supervisor, relies too much on cheap plastic sets colored to look like metal and thus “high-tech.” Much of the movie, which takes place onboard a box-like ship, looks and feels like a B-movie with a decent budget. The sets are not pleasing to the eyes and scream “cheap.”
There are other notable curiosities about the film — not exactly problems, but rather intriguing (in a “huh?” sort of way) “concepts.” Apparently in the future every women dresses like Britney Spears and still uses phrases like “Are you high?” to denote incredulousness at a colleague’s odd statement. This, of course, makes little sense, especially when another character asks the 20th century-born Rowan, “What’s a bike?” Let me get this straight. They don’t have bikes in the future, but they still smoke weed?
Of course asking a movie like Jason X to have a brain is just missing the whole point. Jason disappears and appears at will, somehow moving like a superninja when he’s offscreen, but moving like a snail when onscreen. In that way, Jason X follows almost every convention of the 80s Teen Slasher without fail. Everyone is on the make and the first to die are the sluts and their abetting male counterparts. The “evil scientist” also gets his just desserts in a most gruesome manner (actually, Jason X features two evil scientists getting theirs).
Lexa Doig does a good enough job as the out-of-time scientist who just happens to be a total knockout with a killer body. Peter Mensah does the tough grunt with a heart well, and Lisa Ryder, as the artificial robot Kay-Em, sports a terrible haircut but is quite entertaining, especially when she goes mano-a-mano with Jason and beats him! This, of course, leads to Jason becoming “upgraded” — this little tidbit isn’t much of a spoiler, since the movie’s ads make Jason’s upgrade to an even more indestructible killing machine a big part of their sell. Truth be told, Jason’s upgrade status only occurs toward the end of the film and with just 20 minutes to go, so by that measurement the ads are a bit misleading.
A movie like Jason X was made exclusively for fans of “˜80s Slasher films, and the filmmakers seem to know this, which explains why Jason X never tries to be anything other than a cheap “˜80s Teen Slasher with some semi-nifty effects. One gets the impression that the (limited) theatrical release of Jason X is nothing more than a big commercial for the movie’s eventual resting place — that is, video store counters, where the film will make all of its money back and then some. A sequel, no doubt, is not far behind.
James Isaac (director) / Victor Miller (characters), Todd Farmer (screenplay)
CAST: Kane Hodder …. Jason Voorhees
Lexa Doig …. Rowan
Peter Mensah …. Sgt. Brodski
Lisa Ryder …. Kay-Em 14
Chuck Campbell …. Tsunaron
Melyssa Ade …. Janessa