'New Beginning' is definitely one of the strangest titles in the franchise for me. Not for anything extraordinary that happens, but more in that Jason Voorhees has little to nothing to do with this. In this chapter, they are dealing with a copycat killer who has taken on Jason's M.O. It may not be the right guy behind the mask, but it's my personal opinion that, at the very least, the spirit of the last four 'Friday' films is still very present here. And while it's known to be a dud with fans, I think it gets a bit of a bad rap.
This one makes me think of what happened with 'Halloween III' in many ways. The star killer is missing from it, it takes a different route, and people don't necessarily get the product they want. But if people just take a look at things in a bit of a different light, the film is still enjoyable for what it is. When you really look at the horror aspect of this film and think it through, the genuine scares aren't really coming from this Jason copycat killer (Dick Wieand) hacking and slashing, but from the harsh P.T.S.D. Tommy (John Shepherd) has to deal with after his encounter with the real Jason. It feels clear from the intro to this that Tommy still thinks he might be out there somewhere.
With 'A New Beginning', we finally escape that fateful week of Jason's revenge killing spree that was the last three films. He is finally dead at the hands of Tommy, and five long years have passed for Tommy as he has gone from institution to institution following his traumatic experience. He is transferred to the Pinehurst Youth Development Center as the film opens. Run by Dr. Matthew Letter (Richard Young) and his assistant, Pam Roberts (Melanie Kinnaman), Pinehurst is a much nicer institution for Tommy to reside in, offering certain freedoms that were previously unavailable to him.
Though none are explored, Tommy meets a collective of individual teens with their own problems. However, some characters offer hints as to why they may be there. Eddie (John Robert Dixon) and Tina (Deborah Voorhees [and no, that's not a mistake]) are a couple of sex-crazed lovers; Jake (Jerry Pavlon) has a stutter; Violet (Tiffany Helm) is goth-like with an attitude; Robin (Juliette Cummins) is... I dunno, I guess very serious; Joey (Dominick Brascia) is a simple, compulsive eater, and Reggie "The Reckless" (Shavar Ross), is a kid who's grandfather, George (Vernon Washington), works as the house's cook.
Tommy suffers from nightmares about Jason, and keeps to himself, almost as if he's afraid of hurting someone, knowing now that he's capable of killing. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is despised by their neighbours, Ethel Hubbard (Carol Locatell) and her dope of a son, Junior (Ron Sloan), due to Eddie and Tina constantly having sex on their lawn. We learn to hate Junior very quickly, and to this day, I claim that he is probably the most satisfying kill in the whole series, even if it's not at the hands of Jason. My apologies for the "spoiler", but I daresay, no significant loss on his part. I'd be hard-pressed to find a 'Friday' character more annoying.
Another among the group is Victor (Mark Venturini), who we don't see do much more than chop wood and eventually, chop poor Joey for getting on his nerves. This leads to Victor's arrest and the beginning of this chapter's new series of mysterious killings that completely fit Jason's M.O. The only thing is that this time, Jason is well-known to be dead and apparently cremated (which is a damned dirty lie). So, who is this new, hockey-mask-wearing, machete-wielding maniac? More importantly, can Tommy fight his fears of a potentially resurrected Jason to beat this guy? Well, 'Part VI' exists, so you can probably do the math.
I will admit that the film makes the killer painfully evident from the get-go. So much so that once revealed, I was ashamed for not knowing who it was the first time around when I was watching it a second time. While this still has the spirit of an average 'Friday' film, it provides a very hit-or-miss title for the fans. Although I give the film full credit for tackling mental health following a traumatic experience. It tends to be the title in the franchise I appreciate over other fans, knowing there are definitely worse 'Friday' titles yet to come. Going in with the right, open mindset is key to enjoying this. Otherwise, it's just a sort of "bridge movie", leading into our next chapter (which is my fave of the bunch!).