The Friday the 13th franchise has had its fair share of duds, but the slasher series reached new lows with its 2001 space slasher, Jason X.
The Friday The 13th franchise has always had its fair share of hits and misses, and the 2001 installment in the series, Jason X, stands out as its biggest failure. Not only did the film suffer at the box office, but it was regarded as one of the worst in the franchise. Though entries such as Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan were often maligned, Jason X reached new lows.
The popular slasher/horror franchise has seen its primary antagonist, Jason Voorhees, prey and murder teenagers, often by a summer camp lake with his signature machete for decades. The films have explored The Friday The 13th lore across the series, having gone to great lengths to explain Jason Vorhees’ ever-changing origins taking the character to ludicrous settings. Not only has Jason been to Manhattan, but he has also literally been to hell and back. The 2001 entry, Jason X, was directed by James Issac and written by Todd Farmer, while the titular character was portrayed by long-time series Voorhees actor Kane Hodder in his fourth and final appearance in the role. Though this tenth entry in the franchise had some promising ideas for the franchise, it ultimately left fans angry.
Jason X took the series to new heights, quite literally, landing Jason in space. It was due to this strange choice and a series of other bizarre plot decisions that left fans so bewildered and unenthused, a shark jump of interstellar proportions. Having exhausted all of their ideas, this was during an era where many slasher movie franchises turned to space (typically bad). It was certainly an ambitious script; however, the budget of the movie did not account for the ambition of the script. Thus, the result was a visually unappealing and cheap-looking film, unaided by the more light-hearted comedic tone of the film instead of its planned, more serious tone. Despite its lofty ambitions and the new direction, the film was ultimately a disaster on every level and a financial flop.
Slasher films are not often regarded as artistic masterpieces. Instead, they are enjoyed by cult fanbases of gore lovers. These films aim to please their fans. Jason X sadly did not even deliver on this. The film was delayed by two years, originally set to release in 2000 but released theatrically in the United States in 2002. In the case of the upcoming Aquaman 2, delays can save a movie by avoiding competition. However, the Jason X delays were due to creative differences during production between director James Isaac, producers Noel Cunningham and Sean Cunningham.
These delays hampered box office numbers due to the waning interest of fans and the rise of internet piracy. The film’s budget was $14 million but only grossed $13.1 million and could not account for the increased use of special effects making the film even sillier and campier than fans were used to. Hot off the heels of the 1996 horror/comedy classic Scream, there was pressure to make Jason X funnier. The film was packed with over-the-top reactions from Jason’s victims, the hilariously cringe-inducing line “Guys, it’s okay, he just wants his machete back!,” and a scene where the leather-clad android Kay-Em roundhouse kicked Jason in the face.
Though there are arguments that Jason X was not bad but misunderstood, whether considered a shark-jumping space opera or misunderstood masterpiece, it’s safe to say Jason X still sticks out like a sore thumb. The Friday the 13th franchise returned to form with 2003’s Freddy Vs. Jason, both financially and with long-time series fans. Sadly, Jason X, plagued by creative differences, a limited budget, the loss of its financial backing, a disjointed story, and a confusing tone, the film has been relegated to the ugly duckling of the franchise.
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