Following the success of Friday the 13th, a sequel was quickly put into production, but with original director Sean Cunningham unwilling to direct, producer Steve Miner took over the duties.
The film open with an extended sequence of Alice (Adrienne King), the lone survivor of the original film, still traumatised by the events at Camp Crystal Lake, putting her life back together. But in true slasher film style, a lone woman at home at the start of a film is rarely destined to see the end credits…
The film then jumps forward 5 years, where, at another camp on the shores of Crystal Lake, Paul Holt (John Furey) is opening a camp for the training of a group of camp counsellors.
An early campfire storytelling scene quickly establishes the disparity of the original ending, with some saying that Jason never drowned, and has survived in the woods since childhood.
In these early scenes we are introduced to the large cast of counsellors who are a varied bunch of stereotypes and archetypes, but given their limited screen time, this filmic shorthand establishes the characters quickly and efficiently.
From Paul the hard working, stern group leader, to Scott the joker, Mark the athlete confined to a wheelchair, Jeff and Sandra the amorous couple and Ginny, the studious college student girlfriend of Paul.
As at CampCrystal Lake, the local Crazy Ralf warns them of their impending doom and is ignored.
Then, in short order Jason Voorhees makes his screen debut (as an adult) and begins the process of whittling the number of counsellors.
Having Jason as the antagonist is a strength for this film compared to the first, since they no longer need to hide the identity of the killer by working exclusively in killer POV shots, although Jason isn’t particularly well performed or costumed.
The acting (credited to Warrington Gillette, but mostly performed by stuntman Steve Daskawisz) does not really convey any great menace or aggression, and his costume (which features a sack-cloth mask; the famous hockey mask does not debut until Part 3) seems very clean an sterile, especially when contrasted with the well designed, dirtied and aged set of Jason’s shack in the woods. How exactly does he keep his mask so clean in such a dirty hut?
The film makes a half-hearted stab at dealing with Jason’s psychology, with Ginny, a child psychology major in college, musing about the effects of living alone in the woods your entire life and seeing your mother, the only person to show you affection, murdered in front of you. But all this really does is give a flimsy rational to why Jason kills everyone.
Overall I actually prefer this to the original; admittedly, it’s a generic slasher film in which thinly detailed youngsters are murdered in a variety of ways by a mask-wearing maniac, but it’s fast paced and knows it’s audience, and never really tries to reach above that premise.
Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)
Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhatten (1989)
Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)
Jason X (2001)
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)