Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan has a number of significant problems. Director Hedden can’t direct actors or compose a shot well, the actors aren’t any good (even experienced character actor like Peter Mark Richman can’t seem to figure out what Hedden wants him to do), Bryan England’s photography is lousy, Fred Mollin’s music is lousy, the whole thing looks cheap, but none of those problems are what drain any interest from the film.
It’s Hedden’s inability to decide what he wants the movie to do. He doesn’t go for gore, he doesn’t go for scares. Okay, sure, Hedden couldn’t deliver scares, but he could have at least tried. For a while, he compensates for the lack of gore (and scares) by subjecting characters to absurdly long fearful suffering sequences. Poorly acted, but the actors deserved better. They’re already giving lame performances; being further embarrassed just because Hedden can’t figure out what to do is too much.
Lead Jensen Daggett is bad. She has a huge story arc–complete with flashback–to explain her importance to the movie (and the franchise). Hedden has no sense of scale, not when he’s directing scenes onboard the cruise ship (sorry, the commercial freighter converted into an Elks Lodge-inspired luxury ship), not when he’s trying for big moments in the screenplay. He’s bad at the whole filmmaking thing.
The film’s real long at 100 minutes; it gets intensely boring around the thirty minute mark. The rest is just excruciating.
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