Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th (2009)Reviewed by Carmen Potts

Starring Jared Padalecki, Amanda Righetti, Derek Mears, Danielle Panabaker

Directed by Marcus Nispel

Remakes by definition are sacrilege. But when it comes to a property like “>Friday the 13th, which began life as a cut-rate slasher clone, there’s nothing to get too worked up about. Nevertheless, there was something to those cheesy little films. They were cheap. They were badly made. They had little to no artistic merit. But even the worst of ‘em had a sleazy charm and low-budget ingenuity that made them infectious. They were a blast, and nothing beat watching them with a wild crowd on opening night.

Stepping into a crowded theater for the return of Jason Voorhees, I fully expected to be whisked back to a wild ninety minutes of screams, cheers, and flying popcorn, but what followed was something else entirely: absolute silence. And in a Friday the 13th movie, that’s not a good thing.

The new Friday is basically a streamlined version of Parts 1-4. The nonsensical origin story is whisked through in the opening title sequence and concludes with the quick beheading of Mrs. Voorhees (a blink-and-miss-it cameo from Nana Visitor). We then follow two sets of dumb teenagers as they venture out to Crystal Lake for some debauchery – and their eventual doom. In the middle of it all is Winchester boy Jared Padalecki, taking a side-trek from battling demons on “Supernatural” to hunt for his missing sister. The town locals all seem to know about the masked psycho in the woods but neglected to notify the poor saps who bought their Crystal Lake vacation home, where Jason shows up to wreak his usual brand of havoc.

Friday the 13th (2009)True to form, the folks at Platinum Dunes have once again worked their signature brand of ultra-stylish, faux-gritty mediocrity, thus stripping Friday the 13th of its low-budget charm. While recent films like Hatchet, Wrong Turn 2, and My Bloody Valentine 3D understood and embraced the tone of old school slasher films, the new Friday seems to be actively running away from it, conforming to the modern trend of over-produced music video filmmaking. Marcus “Orange” Nispel, who helmed the overrated Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, is back behind the camera and art-directs the film within an inch of its life; but the real directors, as usual, are Brad Fuller and Andrew Form. While the team do far less damage here than in their other remakes, it’s clear that they still don’t understand the horror genre beyond its marquee value.

The movie’s biggest plus comes in the form of Derek Mears. He does Jason Voorhees proud, hulking through the frame with absolute menace (and even a shred of sympathy). His version is more wild woodsman than supernatural killer (with a touch of First Blood John Rambo thrown in for good measure), and it’s an interesting approach to a character that has always been one-note. Even jaded series fans won’t be able to deny that he’s one of the very best men to don the mask. It’s just a shame he doesn’t have more to work with.

Ever since that first trailer hit in 1980, Friday the 13th has lured audiences in for one reason: the kills. This is where the remake really drops the ball. Even the worst Friday films would have at least one wildly inventive murder that made you holler and elbow your surrounding buddies – but you’d be hard-pressed to do the same here. Sure, there are thirteen kills and most of them are fairly bloody, but they lack any sense of tension or creativity.

Friday the 13th (2009)*Spoiler ahead*

For example, we’re introduced to a weed-selling backwoods redneck who is first seen throwing junk into his oversized woodchipper. The excited murmurs of “Dude, he’s gonna get shredded!” are heard through the audience as they wait for the inevitable gory demise. But it never comes. Instead Jason shows up and dispatches him with a quick throat slash.

*End spoiler*

The entire film is full of these high build-up/no payoff moments that suck all the joy out of Friday the 13th. The makers are clearly striving for a back-to-basics approach with the kills but don’t seem to get that it was the twisted, often ironic execution that made us cheer every time one of those stupid teens got their comeuppance. After we’ve seen Jason mash and pulp people in every conceivable way, a simple CGI-enhanced stab of the machete just doesn’t thrill anymore. We need more.

Everything else from the soundtrack to the repetitive Texas Chainsaw set-pieces (get ready for more underground tunnel chasing) to the random way Jason dons his iconic hockey mask feels completely anticlimactic and forgettable, and the makers don’t even think to throw in any fun nods to the original movies. No one expects high art from Friday the 13th, just basic bloody entertainment, and Platinum Dunes once again fails to deliver. I’m sure we’ll get the usual flurry of responses of “Well, it’s better than (insert bad sequel title here)”, but I would rather take bad shlock over this bland Hollywood mediocrity.

Say a prayer and grab your crucifix for Freddy Krueger, who is next up on the chopping block.

2 1/2 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

  • krawlingkhaos

    Personally, I think Platinum Dunes nailed this one in an odd sort of way. It is a Jason movie: no more, no less. I walked out having gotten exactly what I expected and exactly what I walked in hoping for. For years Jason fans (myself included) asked, begged, sacrificed kittens, etc. to see Jason back in his element: no cruise, no space, no homoerotic shaving, no Corey Feldman. Jason belongs at a camp, killing teenagers who deserve to die in bloody and somewhat creative ways. PD IS milking Jason for the money, but Paramount milked F13 just as shamelessly for two decades while treating the franchise like a bastard stepchild. Now Jason has been adopted by someone actually willing to put a good director in the chair, some decent actors in front of the camera and some time and effort into the production I have some trouble hating on them for it; at least PD seems willing to put forward the money to provide those elements in return for sucking at Jason’s golden tete, and managed to add a couple of nice touches to boot (The addition of the tunnels are a good example. It plays into the he-could-pop-up-anywhere aspect of Jason that we love, but it’s also nice to know that Jason didn’t just sit on the ground in the woods for twenty to thirty years waiting for people to show up. The only thing worse than an unstoppable death machine is one with a lot of free time to prepare).
    I do agree that Michael Bay is the spawn of Satan, that classics like TCM, Nightmare on Elm St., The Hitcher, and Black Christmas, have no business being remade, and that PD’s record is abysmally low, but it’s hard to accuse PD of classic rape when the franchise, with all its love, has always sucked. This movie isn’t really a remake, regardless of what they call it, nor is it a reboot, or a re-imagining. This really just seems to be Friday the 13th Part XII. Jason’s different this time? He’s different in every movie (he wasn’t even in one of them!). Teenagers are stupid? They always are, that’s why we hate them and can enjoy watching them die. Script is horrid? Have they ever been good? Story is thin? You really expected there to be a story?
    It sounds like I’m ripping the review; I’m not. I actually agree with most of it, including the knife rating. I do like the more hack and slash style killing (although there was too much CG) and hope that it will, like the original franchise, get more creative in subsequent films. I guess I just don’t understand the profound sense of disappointment at the movie (not just here, but from a lot of places). How many knives would the sequels (or even the original) really get today? I have no great love for this movie, but no great hate either. F13 ’09 is a niche-marketed, by-the-numbers serial killer cash-vacuum, just like parts 1-10 and FvJ. Maybe I’m too young to fully appreciate the originals because I missed out on seeing them in the theater (I came of age just in time to see Jason X on the big screen. Woo-hoo) but I guess I just don’t see the disconnect between previous entries and this one. What were people expecting? (It’s not a rhetorical question; I’m actually curious. I own all the previous entries and enjoy them for what they are. Am I missing something?)
    If anyone made it all the way through (and I don’t expect anyone would) this ridiculous rant from an infrequent poster, I want to apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended in my long-windedness or my audacity to post something this long (If I’ve somehow broken posting-etiquette then please let me know; I’m very new at the message board thing and this sight is the only one I find worth posting to), or if someone has made this same point better and more succinctly somewhere else on the boards, or on DFF, which I haven’t listened to yet (I just saw the movie last night). So now, finally, rant over.

  • Heather Buckley

    I give it a C+. It is shot well (that is it looks good) except Jason is mostly in a medium shot. Size is on his side and I would assume play that up. It’s paced too slow. Not enough Jason, and Jason stalking people. Derek was a great Jason, I wanted to see more of him and we needed new and interesting kills (the girl in the lake’s death was awesomely 80s). Bear traps, flood lighting (Does Jason pay his PSEG bill in person?), underground tunnels (what no xmas lights)? That is the Leatherface brand so maybe they have been hanging out and IF they are hanging out why didn’t they invite me. But the bow and arrow? Jay is a manual murder kinda guy. Needs to get his hands in there. The ending was a bit like Psycho 2. I know in the originals there was this “mother” focus and you see it in Jason vs Freddy, but maybe it was played up too much. I must say it was nice to see Sean Cunningham and Manfredini’s name on the big screen and on the posters. I hope the film opens the door to even more releases of the old franchise.

    I am not against remakes, I feel done a certain way and in a certain spirit, they could be done well.

    And oddly enough for me it did not come off like the TCM remake, which I did not like. Nor the Halloween because it tried to stick to the formula and part of the spirit, it just did not take it anywhere new.


  • i3ullseye

    Well, I can tell I will like this film, and the 2 reviews have me excited for it. this one especially.


    Because I used to be that horror elitist who detested remakes, with rare exception, until very recently. And I was completely impressed by the new Chainsow (though not the second one so much). So if this reviewer hates this because it was a remake, and came off like the new TCM, then I should be in for a good time.

    I am glad both reviews were posted BTW. I know we aren’t talking professional critics analyzing the film making process here, but some objectivity might be needed to keep things in fair perspective.

  • Rottenjesus

    Funny, Huggyface hasn’t commented on this review yet. I wonder why? Oh yeah, because it’s actually not giving the remake a blowjob.

    • Dearly Disturbed Dan

      Someone needs to work out some frustration. There’s a porno in the corner, have at it.

      • Rottenjesus

        Only if it’s full of GRIT..therefore making it ten times better than this crap. 😉