Review: “Friday the 13th”

February 16, 2009 at 11:47 am Leave a comment

Of all the slasher films that have received remakes, Friday the 13th is probably the one everyone was waiting for.  Although I’m not a fan of the genre, this franchise holds a special place in my heart, namely for actually scaring the piss out of me when I was a kid, and for having one of the scariest NES games ever made.  Needless the say, this movie is one that I actually have been excited for.

Friday the 13th is a sequel/reboot of sorts, picking up roughly where the first left off, with a young Jason Voorhees witnessing the violent death of his mother.  It is now several years later and a group of potheads accidentally stumble upon Jason’s hunting grounds in search of marijuana plants.  The movie then moves forward a few more weeks, this time following Clay (Jared Padalecki) as he searches for his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was among the group Jason . . . ahem . . . attacked while looking for weed.  Clay also runs into a group of people vacationing at a cabin near the woods where Jason lives.

Not exactly the most thrilling story, but one that serves as the background for a very entertaining slasher flick.  What makes this great, and why it’s an infinitely better movie that My Bloody Valentine 3D, is because it knows how to poke fun at itself.  Sure, MBV 3D was also very tongue-in-cheek and threw in typical genre conventions, but it did so because those are the ‘rules of the game’.  Here, it knows how the play the game, with humor and some intelligence.

For example, the movie plays with stereotypes of the genre.  Minorities generally die first, but that’s not the case with Friday the 13th; in fact, the black guy, Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta) is the first to put up any real fight.  In fact, his attempt at survival was not only entertaining, but a real crowd pleaser as the audience I saw it with cheered for him to escape.  And, of course, there’s the typical douche-bag asshole, Trent (Travis Van Winkle).  What made him great was not because he was an asshole, but in the manner he died, which was pretty funny (I won’t spoil it here).

In comparison to recent remakes like MBV 3D or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this is slightly less gory.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t all sorts of dismemberment, gratuitous violence, and the like; it’s just that nothing here compares to seeing that hospital room full of hacked-up bodies in MBV 3D, or Leatherface chainsawing a guy in half in TTCM.  Director Marcus Nispel (who also helmed the Massacre remake) chose to go with a less gritty horror film, and go with a visual style that was like an updated 80’s slasher movie. Oh, and those looking for ample nudity will not be disappointed here.

And I have to give credit to the man behind the hockey mask, Derek Mears.  His Jason is big, fast, and downright terrifying.  I’ll admit and say that someone like Leatherface would probably scare me more, but when Jason starts running at you, you can’t help but freak the hell out.  Mears knows how to use his character’s large frame to create menace, and he pulls it off nicely.

Friday the 13th is an excellent remake/sequel/reboot of one of the most iconic movies in American cinema.  The cast and crew have done an amazing job staying true to the original series, while washing away bad taste Jason X and Freddy VS Jason left.  And those who cry foul at everything producer Michael Bay does, this is another notch in his belt.  He also produced the Massacre remake and is onboard to produce a remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Needless to say, I’ll be looking forward to that one.



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