Friday the 13th: A New Beginning Review

 

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is a 1985 slasher film directed by Danny Steinmann starring Melanie Kinnaman, John Shepherd, Shavar Ross, Richard Young, Marco St. John, Juliette Cummins, Carol Locatell, and Vernon Washington. The film serves as the fifth installment in the Friday the 13th film series and follows Tommy who is in a halfway house when a series of brutal murders occur by a new hockey-masked assailant.


Positives:

  • Good premise
  • Good performances
  • Great use of practical effects
  • Good score
  • Good script
  • Great suspense

Negatives:

  • Lackluster characters
  • Lackluster performances

Plot:  Still haunted by his past, Tommy Jarvis – who, as a child, killed Jason Voorhees – wonders if the serial killer is connected to a series of brutal murders occurring in and around the secluded halfway house where he now lives.  The story is interesting, especially taken in consideration the new setting but the film detracts so much following random killings. The story of Tommy having to deal with his nightmares and hallucinations is actually pretty good. The story would’ve benefited a helluva lot better had the story solely focused on the trouble youths and the killer stalking them rather than the random killings. Now, the film does have a twist to it that does fit (the way the first Friday the 13th should’ve played out) and ending was so so. Definitely could’ve left the film off on a better note. (2 out of 5)

Characters: Pam, Reggie, George, Violet, and Matt are the most standout for one reason or another although Tommy is likable and watching him go through the struggles of trauma does make him a sympathetic character. Most of the other characters unfortunately feel awkward or unneeded. There is little to no exposition as to who they are or why they’re there.  Tommy has virtually no relationship or interactions with none of them.  A prime example of this is Joey who was so annoying, I had no problem watching him get hacked to death. (2 out of 5)

Cast: The cast are alright, giving decent performances.  John Shepard does a great job with Tommy, establishing a wide range of emotions for the character.  Melanie Kinnaman does a pretty good job as Pam, she feels grounded and she’s believable.  Shavar Ross does a great job as Reggie.  The supporting cast include Marco St. John, Richard Young (Dr. Matthew Letter), Dick Wieand (Roy), Tiffany Helm (Violet), Juliette Cummins (Robin), and Jerry Pavlon (Jake). (2 out of 5)

Visuals: Great use of practical effects. The kill sequences are brutal but shot effectively. The psychological elements are implemented in an effective way, not to overbearing. The score is good, but does seem a bit too intense at times. (3 out of 5)

Score: Some familiar themes of the series return and does a good job of maintaining that suspense and tension filled atmosphere the series is known for.  Thumbs up to Harry Manfredini. (4 out of 5)

Writing: Despite the lack of Jason Vorhees in the film, the score, writing and story make it still feel like a Friday the 13th film. Danny Steinmann does take the film in a different direction that actual works (despite what many fans of the series say), however, the film is definitely a missed opportunity. Especially given the idea, setting, and characters and how deep the story could’ve actually been. True, the focus of Tommy’s trauma is a good focus of the main plot, but everything surrounding it is a bit of a mess.  Roy is going around killing random people, however, he only blames the kids at the treatment facility.  Wouldn’t he have stalked and killed just those people.  Sure, killing all the others would strengthen the belief that Jason is alive, however, it takes away from how personal the story could’ve been.  Despite this, the movie works great as a psychological horror.  (2 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is a decent film. It does work as a psychological thriller, and despite the flack, does work as a Friday the 13th film in terms of story. Despite the over abundance of characters, a lack of character depth, an unfocused script, the film does have decent performances, an interesting story, likable characters and a good score.  Friday the 13th: A New Beginning gets 3 out of 5.

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