Friday the 13th Part III

Friday the 13th Part III ★★½

Though the series still exists only to cinematically knock off twentysomethings in gruesome ways while avoiding engaging narratives, Steve Miner's "Friday the 13th Part 3" finds the still-fresh horror franchise gaining some traction. The formula remains the same, but the filmmaking and storytelling are tighter this time around. It may not be great, but the third entry into the slasher series works better than the previous chapters.

What little story there is here simply retreads that from the first two films: questionable-decision-making young people find themselves at a lakeside retreat where they are stalked by a masked killer. The narrative is without twists or mystery, but it adds a touch of self-awareness and character to the murderous mayhem.

Miner's film is less clumsy than his previous entry, and, aside from the charmingly laughable 3-D set-ups, he builds solid tension, suspense, and even atmosphere throughout the piece. Pacing flows better here, and the horror is capably harrowing. The cast is solid, and the film's climax is an exercise in dread and Murphy's Law thrills.

Though it lacks a truly engaging narrative and can not overcome some hokey moments, "Friday the 13th Part 3" makes a soundly thrilling experience. The start of some of the series' more iconic flourishes, this sequel builds on the formula of its predecessors and winds up an almost-appealing genre outing.

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