Friday the 13th Part III

Friday the 13th Part III ★★

aka "The One in the Barn".

These Jason movies have been watched and re-watched and talked about amongst friends and anatomically dissected by super fans and mythologized like pop culture legends and along with that you get the inevitable short-hand with the recurring talking points, like that "Part III" is of course known as the one toying datedly with 3D, sticking all kinds of things right up close to the camera lens. And also the Shelly of it all.

But in an effort to keep it fresh, I'm re-branding "Friday the 13th Part III" (for myself) as the one in the barn because it seems to be the dominant motif at least in terms of setting. It's foreshadowed early on when they go in there to scope the place out, it's where Jason hides the whole time, it's where he and the hockey mask meet! Later it becomes the sight of much murderous mayhem, not to mention where we see his disfigured face when the mask comes off for a moment, and is ultimately where they kill him and leave his body, becoming his tomb. This barn should have gotten marquee billing.

What I noticed this time isn't just the barn-centric action but indeed how small the circumference of the movie really is. Aside from the general store they go to and the cabin they're in, it feels like this entire thing takes place on a tiny set consisting of said barn and a (probably real but) fake-looking mini-beach strip leading in to the lake. And there's something kind of effectively eerie about the sensation, like everyone's trapped within this closed-off remote little space out there, instead of having the acres of woodland area around Camp Crystal Lake to run around in, like the other movies seem to.

I was more on board with this sequel than I have been before, and that's thanks also to: appreciating the harmless fun and sheer volume of 3D comin'-at-ya! shots (they cram a whole of 'em into this), some early shades of meta with Shelly putting on all these fake little horror-scenario tableaus (and that other girl reading the Fangoria in bed, flipping to a Savini article before getting skewered in a reference to his Kevin Bacon stunt), the Gothic disco music over the end credits, and that one unintentionally funny part where Jason kills someone from far away with a harpoon in the eye, then drops the harpoon gun right afterward like he just fulfilled a hired hit job, and we see him casually walk away, until he spots his next victim in the window of a house nearby. Imagine a whole movie just following Jason as he randomly wanders around looking for people to attack. Not quite as scary as him popping up suddenly every now and then, but I would sit through a "Gerry"-style Jason romp.

Nitpicks are too easy to make but I'll file some for posterity anyway: not sure if this is necessarily bad but it's certainly unpleasant how filthy the movie feels at times with multiple scenes of guys sitting on toilets, especially when the greasy hairy guy does it. A Tommy Chong wannabe in the cast is rather lame. Actors are all pretty bad, and halfway through I totally lost track of who the important "final girl" was supposed to be because they all look and act the same (plus she had disappeared from the movie for a stretch). Another dream sequence shocker ending in a canoe, lazy; followed by a random series of scenes like the movie doesn't know when to quit.

All in all, it's average but serves its purpose. Oddly atmospheric little setting, it's all properly rustic, the kills are numerous and harsh (hot poker through the chest, squeezing a person's head until an eye pops out), Jason's coming out of his shell with the new look, and thanks to the 3D you never forget when this movie came out (that revival of the gimmick was contained entirely within '82-'84)

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