Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th (2009)

Written by Damian Shannon & Mark Swift
Directed by Marcus Nispel

Clay Miller...Jared Paladecki
Jenna...Danielle Panabaker
Trent...Travis Van Winkle
Chewie...Aaron Yoo

The opening sequence of the film depicts the beheading of Pamela Voorhees, driven mad by the drowning of her son Jason, at the hands of the only surviving Camp Crystal Lake counselor in 1980. We then cut to "present day" where a group of obnoxious, horny, pot smoking teenagers are setting up camp in the area in search of carnal pleasures. They are, in short order, dispatched of by a stranger with a burlap sack covering his ugly mug that can be only Jason Voorhees.

We then cut AGAIN to six weeks later, where yet another group of even  more obnoxious, even hornier pot smoking teenagers show up for a cabin in the woods weekend, searching for even more carnal pleasures. They are, tangentially, joined by the brother of one of the previous campers, on a desperate search for his missing sister.

Once again, enter Jason Voorhees.

This remake cherry picks elements from the earlier entries in the franchise--the death of Jason's mom from part 1, finding the hockey mask from part 3, the sibling search from part 6--and blends them together here. It's a recipe that calls for some of the old, and some of the new.

Director Marcus Nispel had previously teamed up with producer Michael Bay for the 2003 reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was surprisingly good, so hopes were set moderately high for this attempt as well.

Hopes that were ultimately squashed. Or, at the very least, stepped on a little.

The characters are mostly horrific. Trent was an unbelievable douchebag with a terrible sex scene, Lawrence hated being "put in a box" but then succumbed to every stereotype you can think of, and Chewie...well, I'm pretty sure Chewie had Special Needs. The character of Donnie, who was basically there only to be murdered, was absurdly over-the-top, licking porno magazines and sexually molesting mannequins.

There's basically two likable characters here--Jenna, who is caring but not much else; and Clay, Jared Padalecki essentially playing the character of his brother from Supernatural.

Jason himself is quite different here. He's still the deformed mass murderer we always knew, but he's more human than usually depicted. He also seems much more intelligent, not relying solely on his superhuman strength and skill with edged weapons to accomplish his goal. Here, he sets booby traps, lures his victims to their death, and devises an intricate alarm system to alert him when someone ventures too close to his underground lair.

It is maybe this drastic change in Jason's character that prevented me from fully appreciating this movie. When it comes to reboots, I prefer the type that can also be viewed as a "numberless sequel", like the aforementioned Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot. It didn't change the character of Leatherface, it didn't undo any previous films, and it fit into the original chronology while at the same time reintroducing the character for a modern audience.

There are some good death scenes, and some great special effects which are just about the only saving graces here. It's not a horrible film, it's just kind of mediocre. Which, in a way, makes it fit in nicely with a number of the other entries in the series.

Rated R
97 Minutes
United States

"You've got perfect nipple placement, baby."

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