FRIDAY THE 13th
*** (out of 5)
February 13, 2009
Jared Padalecki as CLAY MILLER
Danielle Panabaker as JENNA
Amanda Righetti as WHITNEY MILLER
Travis Van Winkle as TRENT
Aaron Yoo as CHEWIE
Derek Mears as JASON VOORHEES
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Six years ago when Michael Bay and his then-new company Platinum Dunes cranked out a modern remake of “Texas Chain Saw Massacre,” I was not on board. The movie was a modern slasher film, but with the on-screen violence (which really wasn’t present in the original) and the lack of suspense and chills, it lost a bit of the charm from the old 1974 classic.
Still, that chainsaw film was a hit, and it started a deluge of classic horror remakes. While some were one-shot remakes (like “When a Stranger Calls” and “Black Christmas”), others were retreading the classic franchises (like “Halloween”). Michael Bay and director Marcus Nispel have teamed up again to revamp the eleven-installment-strong “Friday the 13th” franchise.
While I have been a fan of the series, which is not surprising considering I was a teenage horror movie fan in the 1980s, I have never seen these films as untouchable. Any damage that could be done to the memory of the original Sean S. Cunningham classic has already been done in the sequels. After all, by the eighth installment, Jason Voorhees traveled to New York City and literally punched a guy’s head off in a street fight. And by the tenth installment, he had traveled into space, just like the Leprechaun had done.
As franchise remakes go, this new “Friday the 13th” is actually pretty decent. It held truer to the series than “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” did, and it wasn’t nearly as self-aware and sloppily done as Rob Zombie’s abomination known as “Halloween.”
Since the deluxe edition DVDs of the first three “Friday the 13th” films were released just a week or two ago, I had a chance to revisit the early episodes of the Jason Voorhees saga. And while they were fun pieces of cinematic fast food made for a quick buck, I don’t look on these early slasher films as brilliant by any stretch of the imagination. So, for a “Friday the 13th” film, this new one is pretty good.
The new film isn’t necessarily a remake, but rather a reimagining (which is a popular term in Hollywood today for being inspired by original source material, then taking it in your own direction). It opens with Jason’s mother trying to finish off the last camp counselor in 1980, whom she blamed for the death of her son. Like the original film, in which Pamela Voorhees was the killer while Jason was assumed dead, she gets killed by the last survivor.
Then the new film follows closer to the plot line of “Friday the 13th: Part II,” in which campers are picked off one-by-one by the hideous man-beast known as Jason, who has been living in the woods for decades after watching his mother beheaded by her last intended victim. When he feels his territory is threatened, Jason goes after whoever he can in the woods.
There was a bit of cross-pollination with films like “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Hills Have Eyes,” including a complex underground lair and various creepy families in the woods. Also, this version of Jason is quicker and more limber, as well as possibly not always interested in killing his prey.
Like “My Bloody Valentine 3D” earlier this year, “Friday the 13th” earns it’s R-rating with oodles of violence and quite a few breast shots of young, nubile women. In this sense, it is striking at its slasher roots, delivering exactly what the world has come to expect from a “Friday the 13th” film.
There were also other aspects to this film that I thought were actually clever, including the 10-minute slasher movie subplot before the titles, the call-back to the original date of the original film (which took place on June 13, 1980) and the thirteen-person body count amassed by Jason Voorhees.
So, if you like a good slasher film and want to see a decent reimagining of a horror classic, you’ll enjoy this. But if you’ve avoided the “Friday the 13th” films for years, you’ll want to avoid this one as well.