Colleen Van Deusen was a teacher at Lake View High School. She and Principal McCulloch take their students Rennie Wickham, Sean Robertson, Julius Gaw, Tamara Mason, Eva Watanabe, Wayne Webber, Miles Wolfe and J.J. on the S.S. Lazarus for a cruise to New York City, unaware that Jason has stowed away on the ship.
McCulloch was initially hesitant about allowing Wickham, his niece, aboard the vessel due to her hydrophobia. However, Van Deusen was adamant that she be allowed to join her peers on the cruise. This would prove, ironically, to be a factor in the fate of both McCulloch and Van Deusen.
Shortly after the vessel set off for New York, passengers and members of the crew began to either vanish or simply turn up dead. Although McCulloch had his suspicions about a deck hand, the true killer was the revived Jason Voorhees, a lingering terror on the shores of Crystal Lake who had been unintentionally brought back from a watery grave by two of Van Deusen's students, Jim Miller and Suzy Donaldson. Their own murders, perpetrated by Jason the night before the ship was set to launch, were unknown at the time, and the students had been noted only as absent from the cruise.
As the body count rises and attempts by the remaining passengers and crew to end the massacre are met with disaster, the small group of survivors decide to abandon the Lazarus despite the arrival of a fierce storm. This same tempest also destroys a part of the ship, leading to further loss of life among Van Deusen's students and solidifying their dedication to abandoning the vessel. Along with Wickham, Sean Robertson, Principal McCulloch, Julius Gaw and the dog Toby, Van Deusen rows the lifeboat of the Lazarus the remainder of the way to New York City, as blind as her fellow escapees to the fact that Voorhees is clinging to the boat.
Shortly after their arrival, the group is attacked on the streets of New York City and the assailants, Homes and Jojo, abduct Rennie for a short time until she is incidentally rescued by Voorhees. Shortly after Julius is isolated from the group and murdered by Jason after a brawl, Rennie is able to reunite with the group, including Van Deusen, and they attempt to signal for assistance.
While the group of survivors is seeking help, they come across a law enforcement officer who attempts to radio for backup in his squad car. When the officer is murdered by Jason Voorhees, Rennie Wickham climbs over the seats and drives the squad car away from the scene. Jason attempts to block the car, but is run down; however, Rennie hallucinates a younger version of Jason as part of childhood trauma inflicted by her abusive uncle McCulloch. As a result, Rennie crashes the squad car into a brick wall, where it explodes shortly thereafter, killing Van Deusen even as the others escape.
- She is the second character in the film who dies accidentally in this film; the first is a crew member on the S.S. Lazarus who was shot by Wayne Webber. Most importantly, she is also the only character not to be slaughtered by Jason.