Every Friday The 13th Movie, Ranked By Scariness | ScreenRant – Screen Rant

Every Friday The 13th Movie, Ranked By Scariness | ScreenRant – Screen Rant

The Friday the 13th franchise isn’t known as the scariest horror series of all time, but there are a few installments that genuinely frighten.
Friday the 13th (1980) wasn’t meant to give birth to a franchise, but it did, and after 12 movies, it’s obvious the fear factor has dwindled. The series has never had the reputation of being as scary as The Exorcist or Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but there are still a few installments that not only try to instill fear, but succeed as well.
Most of the franchise’s effective entries came in the beginning, from Mrs. Voorhees’ reign of terror to her son’s death in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, but some later installments tried to be scary as well.
Jim Isaac’s Jason X was marketed as a horror film, but it barely qualifies as one. Like other later installments, it’s more focused on upping the creativity of the kills than it is building any sort of tension, but at least the liquid nitrogen kill is an all-timer.
RELATED: Every Jason Voorhees, Ranked By Scariness
Regardless, Jason X goes for cheeky and lame humor too much that it cannot be considered an effective horror film and, while the Space Marines hunting Jason action scene is fun, it too distracts from being part of a long-running horror franchise meant to give audiences scares.
Any fear the Friday the 13th franchise has instilled in audiences is due to a build. A killer hides behind trees and watches as counselors chit-chat, fully unaware that their day can, and will, very swiftly become much worse.
Something is lost when Jason walks through a poor-looking Manhattan and he yanks up his mask to show his grotesque face. It feels as if Jason stops looking scary once this happens as it makes him look more like a cartoony-Halloween villain rather than a dangerous supernatural entity.
Tom Holland’s Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives is a smart film. Ahead of its time and occasionally funny in a genuine way, the movie still doesn’t try to be scary, even if it is objectively good.
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Some would argue it’s the best installment of the franchise, and it does stay somewhat in line with what has been established. However, there’s too much of a focus on self-awareness for Jason Lives to truly function as a horror piece.
If Freddy vs. Jason has anything going for it, it’s the much-promised, titular final fight. But that ends up being a great scene in an otherwise weak movie and shows that the slasher mash-up was destined more for the action genre than it was straight horror.
Freddy Krueger had started dispensing one-liners five installments before, and that was to be expected, but the film brought in its own brand of humor, as well (namely sex jokes and a ‘stoner’ character straight from Jay & Silent Bob).
It may contain one of the most shocking twists in the Friday the 13th movies, but Part VII: The New Blood is the most compromised of Paramount’s eight installments of the franchise.
The MPAA butchered the film, effectively excising every ounce of impact from each kill to appease the groups who thought Friday the 13th was the bane of ethics and the worst thing cinema could push at audiences. Even still, the film’s very zombified Jason is a treat.
Friday the 13th Part VA New Beginning tried to go back to basics by throwing a twist ending at the audience. However, instead of Jason’s mother, it’s an ambulance driver named Roy who looks at the camera menacingly once and is then more or less disposed of by the narrative.
The twist aspect of A New Beginning makes the villain seem like less of a threat, even if his body count ranks among Jason’s most bloodily lucrative adventures.
Jump scares are the lowest common denominator tactic in horror, but Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday has a pretty terrific one in the first 10 minutes.
A woman enters a dark cabin, looks around, and takes a shower. It’s a basic Friday the 13th opening scene set-up…but it ends up being a set-up in a completely different way. She’s an FBI agent, and Jason’s been caught. Before he’s caught, however, he startles both the agent and the audience by popping up to her left as she stands atop a staircase. Nothing about the scare is more or less original than any other jump scare, but it showed an appreciation for timing that the remainder couldn’t match once it became about body swapping.
Like other horror films from the Platinum Dunes era, Marcus Nispel’s Friday the 13th is overly-reliant on jump scares, but the still-most-recent installment added something new to a formula it otherwise adhered to rigidly. Namely, Jason has the capacity and willingness to kidnap.
An extension of Ginny Field donning Mrs. Voorhees’ sweater in Friday the 13th Part II, Jason has kept Whitney hostage because she happens to resemble his mother. The fear for her safety looms large over the film, which still starts high with an opening so brutal and visceral that the remainder of the film never quite matches its impact.
In terms of the fear factor, Friday the 13th Part II follows the law of diminishing returns. Its style, tone, and even the characters all mostly adhere to the original film.
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The first of Steve Miner’s two Friday the 13th movies in the director’s chair, Part II is less bloody than the original because the MPAA cut it almost to the extent of The New Blood. However, Scream Factory’s franchise collection included some of the thought-lost footage as a bonus feature, including one of Part II‘s scariest scenes.
Like the original film, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter is one of the best movies with Tom Savini’s FX.
It’s also the last installment of the franchise to truly feel like Friday the 13th, and many make the argument that it’s the best of the series. It’s certainly the most well-constructed and well-written, but it also brings the scares. An example is the death of Judi Aronson’s Sam. She lazes on a raft in the middle of a moonlit Crystal Lake. The viewer knows her time is coming (the first of the film’s main teens to die), but The Final Chapter understands pacing for scares, and Jason’s leap from the water is always a shock.
The best film of the franchise isn’t always the scariest, and while this applies to the Friday the 13th franchise, the impact of the critically-lambasted film cannot be overstated.
From the echoing screeches on the soundtrack and the underrated acting talent of the cast to the memorable cinematography and beautiful closing melody as Alice is attacked on the iconic Crystal Lake, everything about Friday the 13th clicks from beginning to end. Some fans would argue that it spends too much time showing mundane activities (Alice making tea being an example), but all of F13‘s little moments make the film’s characters all seem like real people, which goes a long way towards making the film a classic.
Friday the 13th Part III suffers from a gimmicky style capitalizing on 1980s audiences’ resurgence of interest in 3D. However, it was the trendsetter for the decade’s horror movies presented in that format, and its quality is undoubtedly higher than the following year’s Jaws 3 and Amityville 3-D.
Of the first four classic Friday the 13th films, Part III is typically seen as the weakest. However, it’s also the scariest, benefitting from a grimmer tone, especially nasty kills, and a beneficial cheap look that comes with aged 3D technology and modest budgets. Furthermore, Part III was the closest Jason ever came to showing personality, e.g. when he’s noticeably agitated while throwing boxes and tools in the barn. Part III also makes Jason a sadist, such as when he pulls up his mask and grins at Chris Higgins.
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Ben Hathaway is a Senior Writer (Lists) for Screen Rant. A former Therapeutic Day Treatment counselor, Ben is now a career writer. When not working, he is writing and self-publishing (on Amazon) novels under the name Scott Gray. In his spare time, he’s reading on the porch or watching every film under the sun. Ben can be contacted at scottgraywrk@gmail.com.

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