I rematch a few films from the Friday the 13th series every year. For whatever reason I neglect to catch up with Part V: A New Beginning, probably because it's the one without Jason (spoiler alert!) Watching it again today after many years, it's a real discovery.
The log line: Tommy Jarvis has been in a mental institution since killing Jason at the end of part IV. Now Tommy’s grown up and being transferred to a halfway house. Like blank follows blank, Jason starts a halfway house murder spree.
The central mystery of who Jason is and why he’s back after being presumably, officially killed in The Final Chapter, is dealt with almost-well. The movie tries to drum up some suspense about it all, but the killer is so obviously set up he might as well be wearing a name tag that reads “The Jason To Be Named Later.”
Also, Tommy Jarvis is taken out of too much of the action. He mopes around, manipulatively needing to be asked twice and three times to join the group or do anything. What does he think about Jason being there, NOW, after all the therapy he’s been through? Wouldn’t he want to figure it out? Instead of taking Jason to space or New York, the F13 series should look into the psychology of its characters.
(Another missed opportunity: addressing Tommy’s hair-trigger temper; step to him even a little and he rains down with scary-expert boxing moves. Spins, flips, kidney punches - Tommy Jarvis could fight the title against Jason instead of kicking dirt. Tommy had much more agency, but fewer fighting skills, in Part VI.)
The craziest thing about the movie is that the first murder that sets everything in motion isn't even related to Jason. We're at the halfway house and this comically broad fat character is eating candy bars and getting his chocolatey candy bar fingers all over everything, and he’s bothering another patient who is obsessively chopping wood, until Wood Chopper Guy flips out and chops Candy Hands to death. That’s, I mean, wow.
I had completely forgotten the movie ends on a cliffhanger of Tommy Jarvis wearing the Jason mask, about to attack the final girl who survived the movie. I can't believe they didn't follow up on that in the series.
I loved the cast. Director Danny Steinmann clearly does as well. He gives everybody some scenes alone where we get to see them be themselves for a minute; admirable for a movie less than 90 minutes long. Corey Feldman’s in it for a dream prologue as young Tommy Jarvis, but is obviously older, yet another actor plays Older Tommy Jarvis for the rest of the movie. You figure it out.
The Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning was a blast. Get committed.