Review : Friday the 13th Part II (1981)

Friday the 13th Part II, directed by Steve Miner and released in 1981, is a direct sequel to the original Friday the 13th. This sequel marks the real introduction of Jason Voorhees as the killer.

Two months after the events of the first film, Alice is wandering in her apartment for one of the longest and most boring scenes in history. After a couple of fake jump scares, she discovers Mrs Voorhees’ severed head in her fridge. This is when Jason appears behind her and shoves a screwdriver in her temple. Goodbye, Alice. The film then jumps 5 years ahead and brings us back to Camp Crystal Lake, or rather to another camp very close to Crystal Lake, where a new counselor training session is taking place before the grand opening of the camp. Of course, Jason isn’t too pleased seeing his camp being invaded by counselors and goes on a killing rampage to get rid of them. But this time, he faces a girl who could defeat him.

Knowing what the franchise came to be, this one feels like the real first entry as it introduces the franchise’s iconic villain : Jason Voorhees. You can feel that they still didn’t really know what exactly to make of Jason : his look is extremely similar to the killer of The Town That Dreaded Sundown and his backstory isn’t well-rounded. It does raise a lot of questions : if the ending of the previous film isn’t a dream sequence and Jason didn’t really drown as a child, why did he stay alone in the woods all those years ? If he witnessed the events of the previous film, why stay passive and watch his mother die instead of helping her ? These are only a few questions we won’t get answers to. However, the backstory goes further into revealing that Mrs Voorhees and Jason must have had a Norman / Norma Bates relationship. This is all theorized by Ginny, our main girl, who is a psychology major.

Ginny is not only a smart young woman, she is also quite nice and is not the type of character to go down without a fight. She is physically capable and is a great final girl. The other characters are sympathetic enough that you feel bad when Jason kills them. The kills are as entertaining as in the first installment, maybe even a bit more. The practical effects are great and the amount of blood should satisfy any horror fan.

Friday the 13th Part II is more intense than its predecessor. It still uses the killer POV shots but while it is genius in Halloween, it doesn’t work well here. Halloween relies on atmosphere while Friday is a simpler, gorier slasher (which is not a bad thing) so the POV seems inappropriate in some scenes and comes accross as a gimmick.

The final sequence is the best part of the film and it is full of suspense. Overall, Friday the 13th Part II is a good sequel, it introduces one of the greatest horror icons in horror history and is a good follow-up to its predecessor.

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