Saturday, November 14, 2020

Jason X (2001)

It’s Friday the 13th in space. Rarely does such a collision of genres exceed expectations. When your expectations are anchored in a character with Jason’s long and varied history, anything is possible.


The film begins in a high-security lab called “Crystal Lake Research Facility”, where a 21st-century Jason Voorhees is in chains, awaiting cryogenic suspension. He manages to off one of the researchers, whose body is discovered moments later by a team of mercenaries and scientists, led by David Cronenberg in a fitting cameo. They fight. Jason and some girl get frozen.

About 400 years later (when technology has advanced much slower than one would expect) the serious tone dissolves as a space crew grabs the two frozen bodies. The characters make juvenile jokes and bring the loot up to their ship, much in the way that stupid teenagers established themselves as fair game in previous films. While sex and drugs led to death in those films, the new characters commit the deadly sin of shitty dialogue.

Before long, the 21st-century girl is revived aboard the ship and starts asking about Jason. The guy in charge is a professor, whose students take care of Jason’s body. Considering the ruptured cryo pod, it’s not terribly clear how well-preserved Jason is, but let’s not deny the inevitable. The students start having sex, Jason senses it and gets up, and a girl gets her face frozen in liquid nitrogen and smashed on a table, a famous and memorable scene. It has begun.

The rest of the film is a struggle between idiots and an immortal zombie. When Jason gets shot to pieces and falls conveniently on a nano-healing table, he is revived as Uber Jason, or Jason X, depending on what sounds better to you. The film ends on a cliffhanger, but it was too expensive to follow up with a direct sequel, which is why we got the profitable (and completely terrestrial) Freddy vs Jason (2003) instead.

Despite relatively basic dialogue, Lisa Ryder, Lexa Doig, Melyssa Ade, and some others turn in great performances. The beautiful Mika Ward died a few years later. Several others have gone on to do basically nothing else of note, though it is my opinion that this film had the strongest cast in the series, Freddy crossover notwithstanding. The Jason X people should be Hollywood gold, but I’m not a casting director.

The male half of the cast is equally strong. Kane Hodder is great as always. Phillip Williams plays a veteran from the “Microsoft Conflict”. If only. There are so many interesting characters that the film could almost qualify as a drama, were the script up to par. Part of me thinks the silly bits were intentional, but it rides such a fine line that you could still call the movie an unintentional comedy. This film proves that horror slapstick can be effective when done right.