Jason X (2001)
Film review #571
Director: Jim Isaac
SYNOPSIS: Serial killer Jason Voorhees is being held in a top secret underground facility. Orders are given to move him out for study, but the facility’s director, Rowan, believes he is too dangerous to move. Jason manages to break out anyway, and is only stopped when Rowan traps him in cryogenic storage, and unwittingly, herself too. Rowan awakes in the year 2455 on board a spaceship orbiting the Earth, but the people who brought her to the ship also brought Jason too, and he has thawed and ready to kill…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Jason X is a 2001 film and the tenth film in the Friday the 13th film franchise. The film opens up showing Jason Voorhees being contained in a secret research facility, as previous attempts to kill him have failed thanks to his ability to regenerate. The director of the facility, Rowan, is given orders to transfer Jason out of the facility for study, but she believes Jason is too dangerous to transfer, and wants to cryogenically freeze him. It doesn’t matter anyway, as Jason breaks free of his confines and gets busy cutting through everyone he sees. Rowan manages to lure him into the cryogenic chamber and freeze him, but an accident means she is sealed in and frozen too. Over four hundred years later, Rowan (and Jason) is discovered and brought aboard a spaceship to be revived. Not realising that they have brought aboard a relentless killing machine, Jason picks up where he left off and goes about slaughtering the crew, while the survivors try and work out a way to stop him. The film is about what you’d expect from a slasher film, as Jason mows down people constantly without any rhyme or reason. The sci-fi twist to the typical Friday the 13th film could have two outcomes: it offers a fresh take on the formula, or it can be a travesty of messing with a tried and tested formula that shows a series has run out of ideas. In this case, it is certainly the latter. The sci-fi setting is barely explained: humans have moved to a new planet called Earth II because Earth has become too polluted, but this is mentioned about once. We don’t know anything about this future, and what technologies exist, and not knowing what is possible just leaves things very confusing as if the film makes it up as it goes along. It feels like the film just doesn’t try to take advantage of it’s new setting, and just sticks to filling the film with sex scenes, partial nudity, and slashing without really giving anything new to offer.
I’m not really sure what the film wants to do: it’s obviously not meant to be a really gritty horror film, as there’s no real suspense, overly visceral gore, or jump scares, and as mentioned, just falls back on randy young people having sex to appeal to it’s young adult audience. There’s no creativity with the kills (maybe one or two) or anything unique about them that the setting gives them. I feel like it would probably be easier to stop Jason on a spaceship, as there’s nowhere to really hide, doors can be secured pretty easily, you could lure him out an airlock and wouldn’t have to confront him at all. But I suppose that wouldn’t make an interesting film. I’m not even sure the film wants to be taken seriously. It does try to inject some comedy by having the characters say really awkward puns and quips, but they are all just so oddly timed and out of place that it’s baffling what you’re supposed to take away from the film.
There’s quite a large cast of characters, most of whom you’ll never get to know because Jason kills them off fairly quickly. You can tell right from the off what cliché character they are meant to be. There’s no real development in any of the characters, even the lead, Rowan, just doesn’t have any personality, and we have absolutely no idea about who she is and any details about her life. Jason is more or less the same as he has always been, which is good, but the “Cyber Jason” that emerges when Jason’s body is repaired by the cyber nanobot…things isn’t going to become the new Jason: he just becomes a cyborg which is pretty silly and over-the-top, but again, that might be what the film is going for?
The setting of the spaceship has a fair amount of detail, but the CGI is fairly dire. I don’t think it would have been good even in 2001. The whole film just feels like an episode of a TV series, from the sci-fi corridors which could have easily come from an episode of Star Trek, to the threadbare plot that would have fit neatly into a forty minute episode: the film itself barely stretches over the ninety minute mark. Overall, Jason X just seems like a bit of a mess: it doesn’t have the suspense, jump scares, or gore to make it a decent horror movie, but it’s attempts to be funny and poke fun at the franchise, whether deliberate or not, are never delivered at the right time, and your often left wondering just what the aim and tone of this film is meant to be.