A high body count, tight continuity with the previous installment, and a lingering mystery over the participation of perennial serial killer Jason Voorhees characterizes this episode of the interminable slasher series. As usual with entries in the franchise, however, the concept of Friday the 13th, Pt. V: A New Beginning outstrips the execution. The idea of a film in which viewers are never sure whether Jason is even present is a novel one that dovetails nicely with the Jason-free first installment (wherein the monster's mother did all the dirty work). But with unsympathetic characters, flat direction, and a distinct lack of visual flair, the film fails to generate any appreciable suspense. The teens this time are troubled residents in a group home, and their picturesque tics are a nice change from the usual parade of interchangeable plaid-shirted counselors. Surprisingly effective comic relief even arrives in the form of Ethel (Carol Locatell), the group home's trashy, ornery neighbor. As Reggie, Shavar Ross also adds a welcome spot of cultural diversity to the cast, although his character's Prince-esque brother Demon (Miguel A. Nuñez) is as cheesy a stereotype as the biker gang who crashed the party in Friday the 13th, Pt. 3. Not that it matters much, anyway. Sandwiched between the superior efforts Friday the 13th -- The Final Chapter and Friday the 13th, Pt. VI: Jason Lives, this one's almost as bad as the nadir of the series: Friday the 13th Pt. VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan.