*Spoilers present within the review*
Originally set as the bookend to the series, “Friday the 13th: Part IV- The Final Chapter” begins with a rundown of the prior three films; working as a refresher course to the events leading up to the present. While I can’t say the acting and writing has been balanced so far in the series, I can definitely give it to everyone behind Jason’s story arc as it is the most compelling element of the overall narrative. It’s true there are inconsistencies, such as size overall appearance, but the lore of Jason has been building and building since the first movie. Once the recap ends, we find Jason’s body transferred to a hospital where he quickly gains consciousness and continues his killing spree before making his way back into the woods. Simultaneously we have the Jarvis family (Tommy, Tish and their mother Mrs .Jarvis) who live near Crystal Lake as well as a neighboring cabin occupied by a group of partying teens. If you’ve seen any Friday the 13th films you know what is to come.
Straight from the start you can tell the filmmakers really invested into the film as the cast shines in their individual introductions. The caliber of acting is by far at its highest in the franchise. Just about the entire cast does their part with believable performances, no matter how small the role. This was literally the first time I generally care for any characters in the franchise. It’s not just rooting for their survival, but the fact that their personalities are fleshed out in a way that you understand each one’s thought process and desires. We still get the cliched characters and horror tropes, this time, however, decisions like splitting up feel less contrived. Overall the actions are generally authentic.
Corey Feldman plays Tommy Jarvis, a young but talented kid in the art of special effects makeup. His entire room is filled with practical puppets and masks; one that makes me envious. Aside from flashes of adolescent Jason, this is the first kid we see in the series. The decision to have a child in the film was a definite gamble, but it works well in the movie. His curiosity of the adult world is definitely shown as he witnesses teens partake in foreplay and skinny dipping. This can be seen in various ways, from a peeping Tom to a mirroring of Jason’s own innocence as a child at Camp Crystal Lake. The fact that there is even a fraction of layered character content already cements
Stunt work is at its finest here as bodies fly out windows, off second stories and rushed through doors. Jason has a much more frightening demeanor in part IV. It’s quite a site to see him transfer from a slapstick tool who is easily knocked with minimal effort to a brute force of nature. Damage has to really be done to him to get him down. The third act really highlights his presence as he hunts the last survivors; getting both his physical dominance and relentless pursuit.
The movie magic continues thanks to the return of special effects makeup artist Tom Savini. Even if his name was omitted from the credits, its apparent that Savini’s talents are put to use. The practical effects are top notch; expanding the grotesque kills to an even higher level. Apparently several of the kills were much more gruesome but were toned down in the final cut. I would really like to see the un-released work of Savini as he has proven again and again that he is among Hollywood’s best creators in Horror.
If there’s time for only one flick “Friday the 13th: Part IV- The Final Chapter” is the premiere choice. You get a backstory of the predecessors, fantastic effects, compelling characters and a worthy conclusion to the series. If only it was the final chapter.