Over the years, I’ve often found myself defending the maligned entries in my beloved 80’s Horror franchises. Thankfully, through the years, some of these like A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2 and Halloween 3 have found their audience, but many of these still sit in limbo waiting for an audience to love their divisive franchise-altering decisions.
While fans have become accustomed to franchises like Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre rebooting every few years, Friday the 13th remains the most assaulted by fans for its bold franchise choices. Don’t believe me? Try mentioning that you’re a fan of Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell, or Jason X to a die-hard franchise fan, and watch them go Dilophosaurus (the venom spitting, Newman killing dinosaur from Jurassic Park) on you.
“Friday the 13th remains the most assaulted [franchise] by fans for its bold franchise choices.”
However, what I find most bizarre about the venomous hatred often spewed at the later entries is that Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is usually flat out ignored. Sure, it has its fans, but the entry sandwiched between arguably the series’ two best films don’t help. Try mentioning this one to fans, and you’re often met with “Oh yeah, the one didn’t have Jason. I don’t like it.” What better time than on its thirty-fifth Anniversary for me to make a case for why Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is an overlooked psychological masterpiece that deserves a rewatch.
A New Beginning seemingly opens shortly after the events of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter with young Tommy Jarvis (played by Corey Feldman) stomping through the pouring rain only to witness Jason unearthed by two boys. An undead Jason rises from the grave and murders the boys before turning towards Tommy, which turns out to be a dream as Tommy is now older and on his way to a transition house. After Tommy (now played by John Shepherd) arrives at the house, he quickly meets the soon-to-be slaughtered residents of Pinehurst. I’m sure we all know what happens next. Tommy has visions of Jason; the residents witness the violent death of a house member; and soon after, someone has taken Jason’s place in knocking off the community’s residents.
I fully admit that, for years, I struggled with the Jason-less sequel. The Final Chapter is my favorite of the series, and I viewed A New Beginning as an inferior follow-up. Then one day, I was watching Jason Lives and talking with a friend when she asked, “What happened after the end of Part Five,?” and suddenly, this movie clicked with me. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is all in Tommy’s mind. Nothing that happens in this movie is real. I know you must been thinking, “What is this guy talking about?” but let me breakdown how I came to this conclusion.
At the end of The Final Chapter, Tommy and his sister have suffered a horrific incident, with Tommy seemingly snapping. In my opinion, A New Beginning is Tommy’s struggle with coming to terms with everything that happens in the previous film. The first person Tommy meets and connects with is Pam (Melanie Kinnaman), and immediately fans will notice that Pam is similar in appearance to Mrs. Jarvis (Tommy’s deceased mother). Pam takes over the motherly role to Tommy in the film, even to the point that she takes him along to meet Reggie’s (Shevar Ross) brother later in the movie, and calms him in the film’s finale. Pam, and even Dr. Matt Letter (Richard Young), cleverly represent authority figures.
“Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is all in Tommy’s mind. Nothing that happens in this movie is real.”
Reggie represents his lost youth. While Tommy is never overly friendly to anyone but Pam, he is very understanding when Reggie shows interest in his mask. Reggie and his relationship with his Grandfather George (Vernon Washington) could easily represent the nurturing that he longs to have. Vick (Mark Venturini) and Joey (Dominick Brascia) are the death of innocence. Joey’s death represents Tommy’s youth and how it was violently ripped away from him. Roy (aka Jason) could easily represent Tommy’s absent father and how his life could have potentially been different had his dad been there to defended him against the evils of the world.
Furthermore, Tina and Eddie are the growing sexual feelings of a teenager. This can be seen in the way that these characters rarely keep their hands off of each other. After the incident with Jason, Tommy had his teenage years ripped away from him, and these characters represent the need for a sexual awakening (This could also apply to Lana and Billy). Violet, Jake, and Robin represent different emotional states of a teenager, also. Violet is the antisocial years, Jake is the awkward unsure phase, and Robin could be seen as the responsible moral conscious that keeps our emotions from tearing us apart.
The most common opinion about A New Beginning is that it’s mean spirited, and the characters at the forefront of that opinion are Ethel and Junior Hubbard. In Tommy’s mind, these characters represent the mocking world, and the laughs and insults thrown at people with mental health issues or those perceived to be different. All throughout A New Beginning, Tommy is seen as having haunting visions of Jason. These visions represent the darkness creeping into Tommy’s psyche. The darkness is pushing Tommy, corrupting his mind, at first through visions and finally by corrupting the absent father by reimagining him in the form of Jason. In the end, the Darkness wins, and the final scene is Tommy descent into madness.
I know the original plan was to have Tommy Jarvis continue on as the killer in future Friday the 13th entries, but for me the film is about trauma and the loss of innocence. Maybe, just maybe, I could be reading way too much into this movie. But given how Jason Lives completely ignores this movie, and how perfectly these characters match up, and in the way that Tommy is often a silent observer to these characters, it is now my preferred way to watch this movie. Hey, even if I am completely off base here, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning is thirty-five years old, and one-hundred-percent deserves a rewatch based solely on its use of black humor, gore, and for being bonkers enough to replace Jason with a paramedic.
What are your thoughts on Friday the 13th: A New Beginning? Do you have a different theory about the film? How about any of the other installments in the Friday the 13th franchise? Let us know over on Twitter, our subreddit, or at The Horror Movie Fiend Club onFacebook!