It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means.
It’s time for the next installment of Friday the 13th. This time we’re looking at Part VII: The New Blood, where Jason is resurrected YET AGAIN, this time not by Tommy Jarvis, lightning, and the clear will of God, but instead by adolescent and psychic Tina Shepard (Lar Park-Lincoln), who has returned to Camp Crystal Lake because of her absolutely terrible therapist, and accidentally raises an undead serial killer. As you do.
If you don’t want to be spoiled for a 30-year-old slasher flick about an immortal psychopath with a machete versus an incredibly whiny psychic teenager, by all means, stay away, for you will find SPOILERS throughout this review.
Hm. I kind of just gave you one, didn’t I?
All right, more detail. Child Psychic Tina accidentally kills her abusive alcoholic father at Camp Crystal Lake. She returns roughly ten years later, only to whoopsie-daisy her way into freeing Jason from his underwater grave.
1.You guys. This could have been such an awesome movie.
Forget Freddy vs. Jason. (Which, in fact, was apparently the original premise before the two studios couldn’t make it work and the project was scrapped.) This movie could have been Jason vs. Carrie, and it could have been EPIC. I would have paid good money to watch that movie; hell, I’d pay good money to see more slashers with superpowers in general. But the basic premise of an undead monster versus a final girl with telekinesis could actually have been pretty cool, or at least good cheesy fun.
Unfortunately, The New Blood is definitely not one of the better sequels. Tina is a whiny and awful heroine, the ending is insanely dumb, the acting might actually be worse than normal (especially in the teaser), and even the deaths are kind of tame and uncreative. Even busting out the circular saw is pretty boring. There are only two deaths worth any real recognition, and they belong to the couple who go camping: Jason a) punches the dude through the back with his bare hands (always funny) and b) picks up the sleeping bag (with the girl hiding inside) and slams it into a tree (which is easily the most original death, although it’s a little disturbing when you find out that’s how the director fantasized killing his sister as a kid.) Unfortunately, even those deaths are not able to make up for a horror movie that’s sorely lacking in good scares or fun bloodshed.
2. But we’ll get to all that. Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
Friday the 13th movies have traditionally started in the most terribly expository way, and The New Blood is no exception: a spooky narrator (Walt Gorney, who played Crazy Ralph in the first two films) reminds us about the legend of Jason Vorhees as we sit through three minutes straight of a variety of scenes from the past six films. (Well, they pretty much just ignore the movies where Jason isn’t actually the killer.) And we get our fabulously silly title card sequence (pictured above), which is always one of my favorite parts of these movies.
We then move onto our prologue, which, well. You know how movies are frequently fond of using quick shortcuts to portray real, nuanced, and devastating human tragedies, like, when a protagonist has a dead loved one in their backstory, a movie will often give you a brief expository flashback to a serene bald person in a hospital bed with accompanying sad music, and boom, supposed emotion achieved? Yeah, it’s kind of like that, only instead of a seven second story about cancer, we have a seven second (and off-screen) portrayal of domestic violence, with a weepy woman saying, “Please don’t drink anymore!” and a blustery man yelling “Don’t tell me what to do!” and the sound of a woman dramatically gasping after she’s slapped. It’s really bad.
Child Tina runs away from all this, and hops in a boat. Her father runs out to the dock and pleads with her to come back inside, presumably worried about her safety . . . but the delivery is just terrible, like, I can forgive the small child for not being a great actress because she’s, you know, a small child, but the guy’s pretty bad. The tone with which he apologizes for repeatedly hitting his wife (something he, apparently, didn’t mean to do), I mean, it’s like he’s apologizing for making a PB&J with the wrong flavor of J or something. But it certainly seems like we’re supposed to believe he’s sincere, like, he’s clearly not meant to be a villain here (as we’ll discuss later at the end of the film because wow that ending). The whole thing is just bizarre.
Anyway, Child Tina is angry and, more importantly, psychic, so she tells Abusive Daddy that she wishes he was dead, and then, in her fury, accidentally makes the whole dock collapse, causing him to fall into the lake and drown.
I assumed that the dock’s collapse would be what freed Jason, but that doesn’t actually happen for a while, say, about ten years.
3. You see, ten years later (or maybe just five–I don’t actually remember how old the kid is supposed to be), Teenage Tina returns to Camp Crystal Lake with her mother (Susan Blu), and her terrible therapist Dr. Crews (Terry Kiser).
Understandably, Tina is not exactly wildly excited about returning to the spot where she accidentally killed her father, but she’s forced to go anyway because Dr. Crews supposedly thinks it’s important for her mental health. In actuality, he’s actually just a giant, greedy dick that’s deliberately making her feel more guilty and miserable in order to fuel her telekinesis. (It sometimes feels like people in this movie are all pretty blasé about the whole psychic thing. Not that they don’t react at all, just, I’d have given a lot for just one of the other teenagers to see Tina use her powers and say, “What the shit? You’re psychic?! Dude, let’s talk about this!” Instead, we really just get Terrible Therapist Dr. Crews telling Tina that her “psycho-kinetic ability is a projection of the suppressed guilt feelings that you have,” which is the most obvious bullshit ever, like, there are timeline problems with the guilt from her father’s death being the thing that caused the thing that caused her father’s death, you know?)
So, anyway, Tina runs away from Dr. Crews at one point and stands on the rebuilt dock, where she proceeds to have a flashback to something we watched less than ten minutes prior. She seems to sense a presence underneath the waters and tries to psychically bring her father back to life, but of course it’s not her father–not yet, anyway. It’s Jason, back for another round of killing annoying teenagers!
4. About those teenagers:
4A. Nick (Kevin Spirtas) is the love interest of sorts, and surprisingly, he’s probably the least annoying person in the bunch.
Mind you, that’s not saying much. There’s not a whole lot to Nick; he’s just the all-American looking dude who immediately seems to fall for Tina for no real reason whatsoever, and is nice to her when nobody else is. Although, the movie does surprisingly give a justification for why he’s hanging out with a bunch of people he doesn’t actually like; they’re his cousin’s friends, and he’s just around for the birthday party. It’s a small thing, but I like the logic of it. Sometimes, the people who are friends in horror movies don’t really seem like people who would hang out in real life.
4B. The friends are about as trope-y as you might expect. There’s the creepy nerdy guy (who’s a writer because of course he is), the nicer nerdy girl (whose first instinct is to wander into the woods looking for her boyfriend because of course he’d be there?), the rich bitchy girl (who is awful to basically everyone, especially Tina, and has the hots for Nick, natch), as well as others I don’t really remember now. The worst, though, have to be the poor black couple, because that’s literally all they are there for: tokenism. They certainly don’t have actual characters; hell, they don’t even get to be any particular horror movie stereotype, like The Bitch or The Nerd; they’re just there to be black and die. (Also, the black girl probably gets the most undignified death: Jason shoves a noisemaker in her eye.)
4C. One of the friends who dies–I can’t remember which one now–seems to literally be treading water waiting for Jason to kill her rather than actually swimming away from him. It’s pretty hilarious.
4D. Teenagers having sex in a slasher movie isn’t exactly breaking news, but at one point three different couples are all having sex at the same time, which I think we are now legally obligated to refer to as sex o’clock.
5. But enough about the teenagers. We need to go back to talking about Dr. Crews, because this man makes absolutely no sense.
For one thing, Dr. Crews is entirely on board with Tina’s telekinetic abilities, but doesn’t at all believe her precognitive ones. Moving stuff with your mind? Cool. Setting things on fire with your mind? Absolutely. Seeing visions of things that have come or have yet to come? Madness, I say, MADNESS.
Then when Dr. Crews finds evidence that Tina’s vision of an undead serial killer is real, he hides it for absolutely no reason I can see. (Maybe so they can stay at the lake and he can work on getting rich? But you have to think he could totally make Tina miserable at some other location where he was less likely to get machete-murdered, right? Like, sometimes the risk really does fucking outweigh the reward, you know?) And then when he outright finds a dead body, he goes back to the house and doesn’t say a word about it, just starts talking about how he’ll have to commit Tina against her mother’s wishes. It makes no sense.
He’s also even a bigger bastard than you initially realize because, when Jason attacks, he deliberately grabs Tina’s Mom and uses her as a body shield. Poor Dead Mom. She was a bit naive and she had the most awful 80’s hair, but at least she was trying to be a good parent and help her child.
6. It’s Tina’s other dead parent we have to talk about now, though, because Dead Daddy isn’t just there to instigate Tina’s traumatic past. He’s also there to be the absurd knight in shining corpse armor.
That’s right. Tina and Jason battle for a while, which is kind of fun–it’s neat to see a horror movie heroine fighting back with her psychic powers, even someone as annoying as Tina. (She really should be a sympathetic heroine, but she’s just so whiny. I desperately want to remake this movie with a better protagonist–it would help things a lot, I think.) Jason seems to die, but Telekinetic, Pyrokinetic, and Future-Seeing Tina can’t defeat Jason on her own, so–somehow–she summons the will to psychically resurrect her dead father into saving the day.
You guys. It is so ludicrous. It may be the most ridiculous thing I’ve seen in all the Friday the 13th movies thus far. (Jury’s not quite out on that, though. After all, there’s a reason I’m so dedicated to this series.)
For starters, Dead Daddy apparently has not decomposed at all in his time under the lake, which, you know, makes absolutely no fucking sense. (I’m starting to feel this is something of a theme with the movie.) Then you have to wonder why he’s brought in as the last minute hero at all, not just because his presence takes away from Tina saving herself, but because he’s, you know, a dude we mostly know for smacking around his wife. I don’t love when domestic violence is portrayed as sort of cartoonishly evil, like, it annoys me when stories only use it as an easy signpost that a bad guy is a bad guy . . . but let’s not pretend that The New Blood gives us some nuanced discussion of abuse, either. It’s one thing, I guess, if we spent a lot of time learning about this man and have a good picture of him as a person with traits and flaws and dreams and failures, but if all we know about a guy is that he wants to leave Crystal Lake and has a penchant for hitting when he drinks? I don’t know, maybe we don’t make him the tragic hero of the story? It’s absurd at best and kind of offensive at worst.
7. Finally, here are some more random notes:
7A. Dead Daddy presumably wanted to leave Crystal Lake because he found a bunch of articles detailing all the bloodshed that went on in the previous years. (I’m extrapolating here, though if you think something else is going on, by all means comment.) I’m not sure if this is supposed to make him more sympathetic, or if it’s just a convenient way for Tina and Nick to figure out what’s really going on here, but I found the whole thing sort of weird. (For half a second, I even entertained the notion that Dead Daddy had those papers because he was secretly grown up Tommy Doyle, but I don’t know why he would have stayed at Crystal Lake in the first place, sadly. Too bad, too, because that’s sort of a fun head canon.)
7B. Speaking of head canons . . . though there is less evidence in this movie, I still think Jason is on a holy mission from God to kill annoying teenagers, and his resurrection via Tina has given him his own precognitive powers, since that’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with for stringing up all the dead bodies in the woods. Obviously, Jason has always a been a huge fan of hanging corpse art before, but to my recollection, he’s mostly stuck with the cabins, you know, where it was likely that the hero or heroine would run across them; here, however, he has somehow divinely intuited that Tina will run across exactly this patch of the woods and find all her dead sorta-friends.
As far as Dead Daddy’s role in all of this . . . I can only conclude that, by default, he is a servant of Satan, whose true purpose in all this is not to just to protect his daughter but to stop God’s chosen warrior from completing his Old Testament style holy mission of machete wrath.
7C. Jason is unmasked in this movie, and it ain’t pretty.
Unlike Dead Daddy, Jason quite clearly has done some decomposing along the way. (Them teeth, man. Not a pretty picture.) I’m also not sure the unmasking does much for me, like it doesn’t make me angry or anything, but it certainly doesn’t scare me, either.
7D. Like any good scary movie, The New Blood has a cat scare. I mention it here mostly because you have to wonder good Lord, how long has that poor cat been stuck in that cabinet?
7E. In case anyone was wondering, the lightning special effects have not significantly improved since the last movie.
7F. I haven’t been very kind to The New Blood, I’m afraid, but I will wrap up by telling you about one beautiful moment that happened: while fighting for her life, Tina stumbles into a potted plant that happens to also be holding one of the dead teenager’s decapitated heads. Tina then telekinetically throws the whole thing–pot, plant, and head–at Jason
YES. THIS. All of this, please. If this movie had more scenes like this and considerably less whining and ludicrous reactions, The New Blood might at least have lived up to its ridiculously silly potential and could have been a lot more fun than it ultimately was.
Cheesy awesome premise that never really delivers. Not a whole lot to recommend in this one, although it might be good for some WTF laughs with friends.
Kevin Spirtas I guess?
Um. Resurrection is a two-way street? Sometimes, sure, you accidentally bring back a dead serial killer to life, but sometimes you also bring back your kind of terrible father who will be there to help you out in a pinch?
Oooh, or, PRIORITIES. Stay here and get axe-murdered, or leave and be a sadistic therapist somewhere else. Some choices really aren’t all that hard.