Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 30 October 2006
Source Paramount DVD
Features: 31 Days of Horror
The sole survivor from Friday the 13th, Alice Hardy is seen in the throes of a nightmare, one that reprises the final ten minutes from the first film, footage that essentially consists of Mrs. Voorhees’ maniacal grin, her subsequent beheading, and the classic ending in which a mossy, naked Jason Voorhees makes his first appearance by lurching out of Crystal Lake and dragging Alice into its depths with him. The latter action is entirely imagined, which is why Alice is still alive, so the possibility of Jason’s existence remains ambiguous; it’s the foundation for a great myth, so aptly, once a fresh group of counselors enjoin a fireside spook story late one night (at a camp proximate to Crystal Lake), they are informed that Jason may have witnessed his mother’s beheading that horrible evening, and is still lurking about the woods that surround them.
Part 2 remains a scrupulous entry in the Friday the 13th canon, employing the same formula to a “T” — it even has a shocker ending that’s essentially a facsimile of the first one — with one enormous exception: Mrs. Voorhees is dead, and here her son sustains her bloodlust and aims to subtract the number of living persons enjoying themselves and indulging in sexual activity in the premises adjacent to his hideout—a worn-down shack in which he has made a shrine that extols his dead mother’s decapitated head.
This is not a film that seems to place much emphasis on genealogy. Of course, the ghost story is an actuality, so shortly after hearing it the precarious teens are subsequently offed one or two at a time. But it remains curious to me, for the sake of genealogy, and to my own futile preference for coherence, that Jason is resurrected, and that, in the first film, his mother seems to believe he’s been dead for over twenty years. Perhaps any description of this would dull the film’s unpretentious intent to frighten, but being as its capacity to frighten has diminished greatly over time the sustainability of Jason’s prowess and durability as a slasher killer transcends the narrative liberties of each individual film in the series. Part 2 remains, by this measure, a domino in the middle of the chain, offering no added momentum, no closure, and no redirection. For what it is, however, it’s a strong slasher film, one burdened only in retrospect for having no ambitions other than to profit from the commercial momentum introduced in the first film. But the series would become something more unique in the subsequent sequels, beginning with Part 3, which introduces the series greatest icon in the hockey mask.