Although its producers had tried every gimmick from 3-D photography to geeky in-jokes in their quest to churn out an endless string of Friday the 13th films, it wasn't until this ninth entry in the series that they found the right balance between postmodern snarkiness and horror-film staples. Filled with enough meat-and-potatoes gore to satisfy slasher aficionados, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday also displays a refreshing willingness to not only poke fun at, but also completely deconstruct, the basic tenets of the franchise. As would happen in the real world if a relentless serial killer exhibited a compunction to repeat his modus operandi without any thought of concealment over the course of an entire decade, the authorities bring heavy firepower to bear on Jason Vorhees. Fifteen minutes into the film, the unstoppable ghoul is history. This uncharacteristically realistic (and jaw-droppingly hilarious) development opens the door for new directions in the story -- and also in how it's told. An element of actual suspense creeps back into the formula, as do bits of mockumentary silliness and tons of self-reflexive humor. Almost a decade later, Jason X would take these tendencies into outer space, but Jason Goes to Hell -- as uneven as it is -- remains the true return to form.