Friday the 13th
Horror redux is another hack job
Friday the 13th
Directed by Marcus Nispel
Cast: Jared Padelecki, Danielle Panabaker
Moviegoers scared/annoyed/offended/bored by Hollywood’s trend toward remaking every horror film ever shot (The Uninvited, My Bloody Valentine, Quarantine among the most recent) can at least take comfort in the fact that the new Friday the 13th film isn’t exactly a remake. It’s more of, well, a sequel that ignores all of the other sequels.
The head-lopping climax of the original, 1980-set film is recapped in the opening moments of this outing. Cut to modern day and we have a random group of horny, stoned teenagers who wander into the woods surrounding Camp Crystal Lake and are summarily dispatched by masked boogeyman Jason Voorhees. This eats up a good 30 minutes of the film’s run time, at which point a title card for the film finally pops on screen. With the extended preamble out of the way, it’s on to the film’s real story—in which another random group of horny, stoned teenagers wander into the woods surrounding Camp Crystal Lake and ... well, at this point you pretty much know the routine.
This go-around of the venerable slasher series (the 12th, if you’re keeping score) is directed by Marcus Nispel, who directed a bunch of music videos and then remade Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though it had nowhere near the impact of Tobe Hooper’s original, Nispel’s remake at least gave modern, attention-deficit audiences what they were looking for—gore and lots of it. Though it offers up plenty of blood and boobs (yay for genre conventions!), the reimagined Friday the 13th doesn’t add anything new to the formula--aside from a whole bunch of dope-smoking jokes.
As you might reasonably expect, Jason dons his hockey mask and then proceeds to hack, stab and otherwise impale some annoying teens. The young, TV-leaning cast includes Jared Padelecki from “Supernatural,” Danielle Panabaker from “Shark” and Ryan Hansen from “Veronica Mars.” Their deaths are ... OK. Most of Jason’s kills are stolen from previous Friday features (plus one death lifted from 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night, of all places). The average, undemanding viewer will be satisfied. Those raised on a steady diet of ’80s slasher films covered in Roman numerals won’t be all that impressed. (Fireplace poker to the eyesocket? Seen it.)
All in all, this Friday the 13th is not as ludicrous a film as, say 1989’s Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan or 2001’s Jason X, in which the machete-wielding killer gets shot into space. More’s the pity. Silly as those outings are, at least they’re memorable. The 2009 version of Friday the 13th is composed of rather generic elements. It’s about as interesting as Friday the 13th Part III in 3D—minus the 3D.
In a way, it’s nice to see the series reboot itself—much like the Bond series and the Batman series did—and get back to basics. You’ve got your mask, you’ve got your machete, you’ve got your naked teenager. Go to it. Unlike Casino Royale or Batman Begins, however, Friday the 13th doesn’t feel fresh, invigorating or at all modernized. It’s a technically well-made film, but it’s flat. This is your typical teen slasher—which may expose the biggest problem in reviving this franchise. Despite its long life, Friday the 13th was nothing more than a money-grabbing rip-off of Halloween. Inventiveness has never been a hallmark of Jason and company. And that makes it pretty hard to reinvent yourself.