Review by Thomas Scalzo
Posted on 30 October 2006
Source Paramount DVD
Features: 31 Days of Horror
One of the more thematically ambitious entries in the series, Part V takes place some years after the events described in The Final Chapter, with a young adult Tommy (Corey Feldman’s character) being transferred to a mental rehabilitation home in the country. Traumatized by killing Jason Voorhees when he was twelve, Tommy has spent the intervening years pining over that long-ago event, and apparently little else. Although his sister was still alive at the end of The Final Chapter, she is never mentioned in this installment, nor is it clear who decided to send Tommy to this particular institution. Nevertheless, to the institution he goes, and quickly establishes himself as the standoffish kid who likes to make scary masks.
Soon after meeting the rest of the institution inmates, comprised of the expected gang of horny teens, and a couple of folks in charge, the murders begin. However, the first man to draw blood is not Jason, but an enraged patient, who unexpectedly snaps and plunges an axe into the body of a fellow patient. As the kid is carted away by the fuzz, we catch a glimpse of his murderous eyes, and see a glint of satisfaction — and madness — therein. However, we believe that this axe-wielding murderer is no longer a threat to anyone, as his character is never mentioned again. And yet the killings continue, with teen after teen falling under the blade, sheers, or spear of an unseen killer.
We assume, of course, that the body behind the brutality is Mr. Voorhees himself, yet as we catch only the occasional glimpse of boot or bloody hand, we can’t say for certain who is doing the death dealing. In fact, as the story progresses, actual full-fledged sightings of Jason are limited to Tommy’s febrile nightmares, in which he spots the hockey-mask wearing nemesis everywhere, and we are left to guess as to the killer’s true identity. Besides the obvious, that Jason himself is behind everything, we are presented with the possibility that the killings are being done by Tommy himself, so mentally weakened by murdering Jason that he was possessed of his evil spirit. Harkening back to the violent end of The Final Chapter supports this theory, as little Corey Feldman’s Tommy has clearly been turned into a different person by the experience.
In addition, there’s the nameless drifter to rolls into town looking for work, the squeamish paramedic with an off-putting glint in his eye, and even Matt, the head of the clinic who is conspicuously absent during much of the murder spree. Although the inevitable reveal doesn’t come as a complete surprise, the attempt at weaving together a psychological tale of Tommy’s inner torment with the real-life mystery of who’s killing off the institution’s kids, is much appreciated, and adds a welcome sense of urgency to the series.
Where many Friday entries content themselves with the comfortable campers-by-the-lake scenario, and attempt to differentiate themselves by the originality of the death scenes, and the tackiness of the one-liners, A New Beginning is just that, an effort to take the saga in a new direction, furthering the transference-of-evil motif established in The Final Chapter , and opening the doors for any entry that follows. Sadly, Friday fans would have to wait until Jason Goes to Hell, the ninth installment, for such attempts at storytelling originality to firmly take hold.