Among the squad of slasher villains, there is one that remains supreme, at least in body count that is. Jason Vorhees has 160 confirmed kills over the course of 11 films. And yet, despite topping other characters like Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers, Jason is quite different from the rest.
He’s not the boogeyman or embodiment of evil like Myers, nor is he a former child murderer seeking revenge like Krueger, nor a serial killer turned doll like Chucky. In fact, when looking at his backstory, he has far more in common with Victor Crowley. Much like the villain of the Hatchet series, Jason is almost even sympathetic. And here is why:
Mentally He’s Just a Child
Those familiar with the tragic backstory of Jason Vorhees, know that he drowned in Crystal Lake when he was just 11. It’s also heavily implied that he may have been deformed and/or struggled with some form of intellectual disability. Therefore he never experienced puberty, nor the opportunity to emotionally mature properly.
This results in a killer that is not mentally sound, at least in the eyes of the law. Were Jason put on trial, a savvy lawyer could easily get him acquitted via an insanity plea since clearly he is unaware of the scope of his actions. He’s not evil at the core, rather he lashes out with violence because he doesn’t understand how else to process his negative feelings.
His Mother Set a Bad Example
Our very first teachers are our parents, and for Jason this was no different. As his soul languished, unable to find rest, he bore witness to his own mother committing horrific acts of murder. In the years since his drowning in 1957 to the original Friday in the 13th (set on June 13, 1980), it is revealed that she has been killing the camp counselors.
In particular those who partake in love making, since that’s what the counselors were doing back in 1957, which caused them to neglect poor little Jason in the water. And so as he watched his mother butcher and skewer teenagers year after year, he began to think of this as normal behavior. It’s no wonder he follows so loyally in her footsteps. What other way of life has he known?
Freddy Forced Him to Fight
In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday we see the title character descend into hell itself, where a familiar finger-knife clad glove grasps his signature hockey mask. One must wonder if Jason would have found peace down there. Sure it’s hell, but in some ways dead is better (as Jud Crandall would say).
But his rest is cut short by a much more sinister character, bent on making a comeback. It’s Freddy Krueger who impersonates Pamela Vorhees to get Jason to do his bidding. He basically manipulates Jason into killing and being his pawn, so that the memory of Freddy will stay alive.
And towards the end of Freddy vs. Jason, the teens decide to use Jason as their ally, realizing that Freddy is the true evil slasher between the two. The point is Jason would have been better off left alone. But Freddy drags him from hell, tricks him to be a killer, and then goes after him when does the very thing he was ordered to do.
The Curse of Immortality
In the later sequels, it’s heavily implied that Jason may be a deadite from the Evil Dead franchise. Particularly considering the fact that the Necronomicon is clearly visible in the background of one scene in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. At the very least however, it’s clear that Jason keeps returning from the dead, never able to attain true rest.
In each film he murders groups of teenagers, but also suffers a horrific and painful death himself. After nine films (excluding the remake), it must be complete agony for him. When ordinary people die, it only happens once, but not Jason. Imagine how the frustration of this only fuels his rage. Unlike Freddy or Chucky, he takes neither glee nor pleasure out of killing.
He Still Feels Fear
Much like Frankenstein’s Monster and fire, Jason has always been afraid of water. Underneath that hockey mask, he’s still just a scared little boy, calling out for his mother. Imagine a disturbed child acting out, but with a large, muscular body, immortality, and a machete.
It would be a recipe for disaster. Ultimately, Jason Vorhees never wanted to be a slasher villain. All he’s ever wanted was to be with and please his mother. But witnessing her murder people, followed by her own decapitation had a profound effect on him.
Couple that with the fact that he’s cursed with an almost zombie-like existence, does it really surprise us that he acts as he does? His crimes have been numerous and gruesome, but the sad fact is he is more understood than pure evil.
Do you think Jason is evil or just misunderstood? Let us know in the comments!