Sunday, June 22, 2014

Movie Short Review - "The Curse of Jason"

Let’s start with a very basic premise here.  Let’s define what this film is and what it is not.  This film is a fan film shot for around $3,000.  It was a tribute to a horror icon and his story.  It was entertaining.  What was this film not?  It was not supported or endorsed in any way by Paramount or any other affiliated companies.  It was not a sequel, prequel, or any other type of “quel.”  It was not working with a $550,000 and up budget with a team of people with nothing else to dedicate their lives to while production was taking place.   Let’s be 100 percent honest here, it does not stand up to the intense scrutiny that one would give an actual, sanctioned Friday the 13th film.  If your intent in watching to find the flaws, save your time, there are many.  However, if your intent is to be entertained by people who obviously have a true love for Jason Vorhees, then you are in the right place!  If there is one thing that this film is above all, it is fun in the same way that made each and every entry into the saga of Jason Vorhees worth watching!

In order to continue with my review, I want to go ahead and refresh your memory with my review of the first segment that was written when the film was originally released in its three separate parts.

Dated:  Sunday, May 18, 2014 after viewing part 1 of The Curse of Jason.

It's hard to form an opinion of something in just eleven short minutes.  However, this was just the first of a three part series.  Knowing this and understanding that this is a short fan film, hopefully allows the viewer to sit back and simply have fun with it.  Go in to watching this film just expecting a quick, good time and you will not be disappointed.

Created Brandon Prewitt, co-writer of The Campground, and Jack Norman this film starts with the typical group of campers hanging out at Crystal Lake.  We get a quick nod towards the greatest Jason ever on film with one of the first victims being named Kane in reference to Kane Hodder, who played Jason in Friday the 13th VII, VIII, Jason Goes to Hell, and Jason X.  The kills come quick and intense and are in no way disappointing.  The directors embrace the limitations of their budget and do not overreach in their attempt to create brutal kills.  Instead, they use a standard trick of the low budget horror film by showing the lead up, the slash of the arm or the raising and dropping of the ax, and then cut to the wound.  The technique is used well and the kills are pretty cool.  Perhaps, most importantly, Prewitt and Norman's Jason delivers.

 Jason is played by co-director and co-writer Jack Norman.  While the uninitiated into the Friday the 13th series might believe that anyone could put on a mask and play Jason, true fans know that idea is a fallacy.  Ask any die-hard Friday the 13th fan and they will name their favorite Jason for you.  In order to properly portray the killing machine that is Jason Vorhees, a certain presence is required.  Jack Norman pulls this off and provides a respectable addition to the line of actors who have portrayed the unstoppable monster.  He seems to model his movement off of the Jason of later films and, in doing so, brings the character to life.

Certain other aspects that are enjoyable about the fan film are not so much the result of the crew's work as they are their correct acknowledgment of the fact that certain things make Friday the 13th what it is and cannot be replaced.  They utilize the familiar title graphics and Harry Manfredini's iconic music.  A lot of the shots of the film are reminiscent of the types of visuals used in the various Friday the 13th movies that went on to become standard in most slasher films.

For the most part, the cast and crew did a solid job of paying their respects to the Friday the 13th franchise and creating a work that is obviously the product of fans.  I can't say in good faith that the production was perfect.  There were moments when I couldn't help but ask the screen "really?" as though it was going to answer, such as when the character Alice barely taps Jason and manages to shove him out of the way or a character's complete unawareness of Jason being right next to them until it is too late.  However, overall, the film is entertaining and should be viewed by any fan of Friday the 13th.  Just trying to catch all of the references alone are worth the view (I already mentioned the nod towards Kane Hodder.  See how many others you can find on your own.).  The cast and crew seem to have had fun making this and you should have fun viewing it.

After viewing the fan film in its entirety, I stand by my original statement:  go in watching this film expecting just a quick, good time and you will not be disappointed.  From the moment we first see Jason on the screen with the sack over his face, the bloodletting barely stops.  Let’s face it, none of the Friday the 13th films really did a great job on character development, relying on classic stereotypes and slight deviations from character to character.  With only 26 minutes to work with, The Curse of Jason dispenses with any pretense of character development and cuts right to the reason you know we all watch Jason Vorhees – the kills.  I didn’t do a body count as I watched, but if I did, I’m sure it would be an impressive number.  You will barely have time to learn the characters’ names before they are covered in gore.

Considering the low budget this group was working with, the gore effects were pretty impressive.  They utilize a lot of cutaway shots, just like you have in many of the kills in the Friday the 13th films.  This allows them to create some cool looking kill wounds without worrying about making the infliction of the wound look realistic.  It reminded me very much of Tom Savini’s early work.  I will admit that Jason gets a little stab crazy and I would have liked to see more slashes or other methods of death, but there is enough variation among the huge line of victims to make it good.  Perhaps the best thing about this fan film is the fact that it was obviously made by fans.

The references and nods to almost each and every one of the Friday the 13th films are too numerous to list here.  Names are used to pay homage to actors, directors, and characters.  We see familiar settings such as Camp Crystal Lake and the foster home from part V.  We get to see classic Jason kills, including my all-time favorite, the sleeping bag slam.  Classic lines are thrown in when appropriate.  I got to hear my personal favorite line from the series “he just wanted his machete back!”  You can even view someone other than Crispin Glover doing a very awkward dance to the same 80’s song that was played during part VII when Glover was flailing around like he was having a seizure (and, yes, they look just as bad).  Jack Norman and Brandon Prewitt obviously love the series and were having a good time with their own film.  It is not all rehashed material, however.  Have you ever wondered what it would look like if the fake Jason from part V (blue striped hockey mask) met up with the real Jason?  That is something we never saw in the “real” movies, but we get to experience here.  That alone is worth the watch.

In the end, if you are a fan of Jason Vorhees, you owe it to yourself to check this film out.  At 26:02 minutes, it may not be the most dynamic, original piece of work you ever see, but it gives 110% effort and a lot of heart.  It is the work of true fans and should be watched by true fans.  At the time of this writing, the video, which is free for viewing on YouTube, had almost 1900 views and over 97% positive comments.  So, I will reiterate, if your goal of watching a fan film on YouTube is to just make yourself feel superior by tearing down the work of others, don’t waste your time.  However, if you are a fan, you need to immediately click the link below to the video and enjoy!  You will be glad that you did as you feel that familiar rush of seeing your old friend, Jason Vorhees, back in action!

Due to the nature of the film, I will not be posting a rating of it.  Let’s just keep it simple.  I really enjoyed and recommend this fan film.  Check it out for yourself and make sure you watch through the end of the credits!  As for me, I’m going to go re-watch the Jason versus Jason scene.

Friday the 13th – The Curse of Jason:

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