With the box office success of “Friday the 13th”, it was a surprise to no one that Paramount quickly started filming the follow-up sequel. Released a year after its predecessor, “Friday the 13th: Part II” attempted to strike gold once more.
Following the events of the first, another group of counselors sets up shop at a campsite across the lake to the infamous camp crystal lake. This time the head counselor is aware of the murders but believes it is just a legend; unfortunately, the legend is all too real.
My favorite aspect of this film, aside from the first introduction to adult Jason, is the fact that they build off on the lore of the Voorhees family. One night during a campfire hangout the counselors discuss the legend of Jason and his mother in a ghost story style. Having characters aware of the events prior add a sense of dread and eeriness to the overall film. While it may seem a little hokey as they just use exposition to explain Jason, it fits the overall feel.
What made the first film so beloved is the mystery behind the killings, that being the lack of shots of the killer as well as some chilling POV shots that make the characters feel like they are being watched. We the audience know what’s coming, but the counselors are once again oblivious even when looking straight into the camera. Granted there’s foliage everywhere, so it only adds to the imagination of the characters as they sense something off or being watched. “Friday the 13th: Part II” does utilize voyeuristic camera style of the first, but at times it becomes too much. Just about every character has a moment where they stop in their tracks as they check a sound or call for a friend. The overuse of this takes away from the invisible evil that is believed to be lurking, as it is bogged down to almost a peeping tom status. There are some positive uses within the movie, as the handheld approach gives life to the footstep stalking movement.
As far as the deaths, most are predominately tame. A stab with a machete here, a knife there; most are done rather quickly with little gore. There’s one moment that stands out as a guy in a wheelchair gets a Machete to the face and then proceeds to roll down a large flight of stairs. It’s quite hilarious honestly just due to the unnecessariness of it all. For me this scene also sticks out as the first true death that has a creative humor spin to it; a theme that becomes much more prevalent later on in the series.
Seeing Jason as an adult for the first time is celebratory for the franchise, but his overall presence is unbalanced. During the final chase sequence, we see him popping out of shadows and bushes and showcasing how he can outsmart people- and yes he does run. At the same times, we also see how absurdly he can be kept at bay. He gets pushed down a hill and rolls like a turtle on its shell and even gets kicked in the family jewels. Yes, you read that right, Jason Voorhees gets kicked in the nuts. All these instances make him much less frightening.
Like the original, Part II suffers from its characters. We know little to nothing about the characters, and the moments where some development or character building can occur is quickly thwarted by ending the scene. With that in mind, the film becomes more of waiting for the teens to get killed, which is a slow burn until the third act. Overall it’s a mixed bag when compiling the pros and cons into one. It’s not the worst of the franchise, but definitely not the best.