Friday the 13th: Vengeance
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The 249th review!
Mr. Pat's Video Review
Welcome to October and my first review of the year, there are a lot new people here, so hello! For those of you new here... one thing that I make painfully obvious to people that know me, is that I’m a huge Friday the 13th fan. Jason Voorhees is easily my favorite slasher and movie monster period. Unfortunately a fight over money between the series creators, which I put on Sean Cunningham, has grinded the franchise to a halt. That means no movies, no toys and it even brought the end of new content to the infinitely entertaining Friday the 13th video game. So with everything trapped at zero, fans have taken over. Fan made films are popping up all over, and I figured it’d be fitting to start this month off with one of them I’d been excited about for a long time.
Friday the 13th: Vengeance (2019)
For those of you new here... one thing that I make painfully obvious to people that know me, is that I’m a huge Friday the 13th fan. Jason Voorhees is easily my favorite slasher and movie monster period.
I had reviewed Never Hike Alone two years ago and I couldn’t stop gushing about it. I absolutely loved it. The acting was very good, the story was tight and focused, the protagonist was cool and literally my only complaint was Jason’s steps were waaaay too loud. There was no filler, just one man’s fight for survival against Jason. I loved it, AND it brought back series hero Tommy Jarvis!
This one, however, is not quite as good. It’s a direct sequel to part 6 (my favorite one), and takes place 30 years after. One of the reasons I was so excited about the movie was all the names involved in it. It had CJ Graham, who played Jason in Part 6 playing the role of Jason’s father Elias, a character who was supposed to be in 6, but was cut out. Also, the family and I got to meet Graham at a horror convention in July, very nice guy! It had Steve Dash, in his final role, who was the first person to play adult Jason, as a sheriff. The writer and director of Part 6, Tom McLoughlin served as a consultant, and a grave digger hired by Elias. Finally it had Harry Manfredini’s music, although it seemed like they just ripped most of the music and sound effects from the game.
With everything I talked about, it’s almost like this movie is bound to be great, right? Sadly it’s not. I’m not going to compare it to Never Hike Alone because that’s not fair, so I’ll do this movie on its own merits. Here’s the story, the daughters Tommy Jarvis, are looking for their father after he has gone missing. She contacts her friend who is an author, trying to write a book about Jason. He then gathers up a squad to help her find Tommy. His group includes Jeff Dier, relative of Rob and Sandra Dier from parts 2 and 4, Joey Higgins related to Chris Higgins from part 3 and finally Heather Field, daughter of Ginny from part 2. I liked seeing the references to the characters, but other than fan service and one scene when Heather tries to play the same trick that Ginny did, there’s no good payoff with the cool idea. Meanwhile, Jason has come back to life and he and his dad go on a murder spree causing Tommy to go searching.
One thing I liked, while all this is going on, the area has capitalized off Jason’s rampages. Like one of the better aspects of Jason Goes to Hell was that diner selling Jason-related food. It’s silly, but honestly it’s one of the more realistic aspects of the series. This town cashes in by having ghost tours where they take people through the places Jason and his mother went on their sprees.
Let’s start with the positives. The production values are really good. This movie was funded through Kickstarter and did very well for itself, and it shows. It really does look nice, something you could expect to see in a theater. The movie does what it can with the kills, some of them are pretty good although the majority are simple decapitations. There was one really cool scene where it’s foggy and Jason just kind of appears in and out of the fog, it’s one of the few effective chase scenes the movie has. I also enjoyed how it took care not to step over the mythology.
With that said, there are some things I didn’t like, I’m going to give it a lot of leeway because it’s a fan film. For one there are too many characters. It ran into the same problem part 5 did, it wants to up the body count so it just introduces people just to kill them minutes later. Jason kills 37 while Elias kills 7. It sounds cool with the high body count, but there’s really no stalking or build, a character will be standing there, and all of a sudden, HEY! Jason is there and off comes their head. The actors did what they could, but the script and a lot of the dialogue is bad and sometimes cringey. They also have one drunk redneck that’s just unbelievably annoying. It’s a relief when he dies because that means he won’t have any speaking lines, because he would not shut the fuck up.
The story dives into Jason’s backstory and the lore a lot more than any Friday the 13th movie, and it’s a great attempt, but it didn’t really work for me. In general I’m not big on solving mysteries in movies that are better left unsolved. I don’t really need to know why Jason came back after drowning or why he keeps coming back. The fact that the timeline doesn’t really work out and we just accept that he became a zombie after being struck by lightning is part of the charm of a series that had him fight a dream demon and eventually go to space.
At the end of the day, it’s a movie that was made by fans of the series. It brought back some franchise mainstays, it has the right feel and ultimately, these fan films are the only thing we’re going to get until Victor Miller and Sean Cunningham come to an agreement. One review I read said it was fun, but flawed. I’d agree with that.