In space no one can hear you scream, but Jason Voorhees can still hear you get your freak on. In 2002, the film world embarked on a new type of space odyssey. The whole world — well maybe not the WHOLE world — watched as Jason returned to the big screen after an 8 year hiatus with the futuristic, sci-fi horror Jason X.
It was of course the 10th film in the Friday the 13th franchise. Plus at the recent turn of the century, marking anything with an “X” instantly evoked feelings of it being cutting edge and futuristic.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Directed by Jim Isaac (Existenz), Jason X starts in 2008 with Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) being held in confinement and experimented on by the government. Jason’s ability to regenerate and basically never die is being studied because it may hold valuable implications, likely for the military. One of the scientists, Rowan, played by sci-fi vet Lexa Doig, is hesitant at the idea of keeping the mass killer alive. The head of the department overrules, giving David Cronenberg a brief but evil cameo and a swift death with Jason breaks free. Jason and Rowan are then cryogenically frozen and are woken up almost 400 years later in 2455 on a research facility conveniently called the Camp Crystal Lake Research Facility.
After Rowan is brought up to speed by the crew of scientists, she warns that Jason should be chucked out the ship, rather than continuing more experimentation on him. These scientists are just as interested in ignoring common sense as the last group. Jason comes to and picks up right where he left off. His first killy kill in the distant future sees him freezing a woman’s head in liquid nitrogen then smashing it to pieces.
The setting basically imagines Jason in the role of the Xenomorphs in Ridley Scott’s Alien. There are plenty of similarities and nods to those films, including a character named Dallas, an android and Jason battling space marines.
Aboard the ship are scientists and science students. And even in the distant future this crew exhibits many classic qualities of campers Jason loves to kill. There is a stoner, tough guy and a lot of horny toads. Even 400 years later, Jason still hates people hooking up.
Our lead, Rowan, is essentially the only character who understands the gravity of the threat from the beginning. After all, she has seen Jason in action before. We hear early on that Jason’s kill total is near 200. This film will see him notch the highest kill count to date with 28.
The resident badass of the film, at least on the side of good, is Brodski. He’s probably the toughest S.O.B. in the whole franchise and proves it several times throughout the film.
Sticking with the Alien vibes, Kay Em 14 is our Ash in this film. She is an android created by fellow passenger Tsunaron. Tsunaron and Kay Em 14 have a sometimes flirtatious relationship despite him having a girlfriend on board, Janessa.
They had me at with the Jason meets Alien synopsis. Seeing Jason hunt down the crew aboard the Grendel is a great change of setting for Mr. Voorhees and leads to a new wealth of imaginative kills.
Among my favorite scenes is when Jason appears in a VR simulation shooting game. Two characters are seen battling alien monsters when Jason shows up and slices one of the monsters in half. Jason chops the two up virtually, allowing one to speak with his head decapitated, before they exit the game. The guys are surprised to find when they turn off the game, Jason remains.
For maybe the first time in the franchise, we see an explanation of how Jason comes back from the dead, at least in this instance. After an outrageous battle with Kay Em 14, Jason is blown to pieces. The battle in itself makes light of gun play in films with endless clips of ammunition and Kay Em turning the gun sideways for no reason. The tropes don’t end there either. In the end Jason gets his arm blown off and keeps standing. So she blows his leg off. He’s still not done so she blows a hole in his chest. Finally she has to blow his entire head off before he stays down.
But thanks to nanotechnology which we see heal Brodski, Jason not only lives but he becomes Uber Jason. He’s not a rideshare driver though. More of a Super Shredder version of Jason.
The whole film plays like a spoof of the entire franchise. This is highlighted the most when Jason is trapped in a holographic simulation of Camp Crystal Lake circa the 1980s. Here Jason encounters two topless women who ask him if he wants a beer, to smoke some pot or have premarital sex. It was gratuitous but I think that was the whole point.
There were a ton of references to things that happened in this imaginary world between when Jason and Rowan were frozen and when we see them unfrozen. First, we learn in 2024 hockey will be outlawed. The transport ship they are on is headed to Earth 2 because Earth 1 is no longer inhabitable. Phillip Williams’ character Crutch also refers to what sounds like a war called the Microsoft Conflict.
“Hell, we were beating each other with our own severed limbs.”
These details are sort of throwaway lines but they add some dark humor and interesting little subtexts.
The special effects of the movie were very of the time so it’s hard to judge that aspect by today’s standards. When it came to the blood and gore, more practical effects would have been appreciated. But again, it speaks to the sci-fi films of this era and in a sense fits the spoof idea even more.
The one wonky effect I will however call out for being totally unnecessary was Kay Em 14’s sped up cartwheel attack during her fight with Jason. It was awesome to see her get upgraded into a super soldier but this little shot was all sorts of goofy.
I’m not sure if Jason X is the best entry into the series but it is definitely the most entertaining. It doesn’t try to hide the fact that its whole premise is absurd but it leans into that absurdity to even better effect than other horror films that went to space, the future or the hood.
Roger Ebert listed this among his most hated movies but despite having the poorest box office of the series it has made decent money from video sales.
The end of the film was left ambiguous and the whole thing was set in the near to distant future to not interfere with any Freddy vs. Jason plot points. I would absolutely tune in for a direct sequel featuring Uber Jason on Earth 2.
“Jason F###### Voorhees. That’s what’s going on.”
Overall score 2.5/5
The Shameless Plugs
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