THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!
Friday the 13th (2009)
Directed by Marcus Nispel
“It’s like a modernized old school horror movie with blood and boobs.”
It’s no breaking headline that Hollywood is fresh out of ideas. It seems that level of produced original content is at an all time low. It’s really pathetic if you think about it. (Battleship? Really?) Anyway, I guess if audiences continue to support productions, we can’t blame producers for wanting to go for near guaranteed buck because when new ideas bomb, producers would rather stick with easier to sell, easier to market brands. Cue Michael Bay.
At one time, dude made a few original shit…and some of it was pretty good (The Rock and Bad Boys). Somewhere, (I’m looking at you Pearl Harbor) he got lazy and unoriginal. Then, since he must of figured when didn’t get enough of his “brand”, he opened up a production company specializing in being lazy and unoriginal: Platinum Dunes, which focuses on nearly exclusively on remakes. Profit wise that’s cool and all, but for creativity and art, that blows.
However, as I’ve watched their movies, my annoyance has slowly subsided, especially with Friday the 13th. OK, sure, there’s been about 11 or 12 adaptations of the franchise and by the time Jason X rolled around, it had become a parody of itself (even though I dug it). Nevertheless, when Jason vs Freddy came out, something about the movie worked but then…nothing…until in six years later when Bay decided we needed to see Crystal Lake once again.
When I first saw Bay’s Friday in theaters, I remember it being okay. Not great, but not terrible. Just another day, another remake. As a few years have passed, my opinion has changed. The thing works, and works pretty damn well. Now, does Friday the 13th add anything new to the legacy of the franchise? No. What it does have is style, humor and a sense of freshness. It’s like a modernized old school horror movie with blood and boobs, something every horror fan needs. For the first time in a long time, a Jason movie felt gritty and mean. Jason didn’t feel like a rehashed relic. The big fella was current, a bad ass threat once again. I'm still surprised we haven't seen a sequel.
If anything, I give credit to director Marcus Nispel and his writers because they at least tried to add a little something beyond the expected. Sure, there’s plenty of nudity, death, gore, and mutilation, but at least they tried to put us in Jason’s world, showing us his crib where he, you know, hangs out with his bros and catches up on the Real House Wives of Wherever. I realize part of the allure of Jason, Michael, and Freddy is that they’re surface level villains without depth. They’re like union men, doing only what they’re supposed to do. With Jason, we don’t get a lot of dialogue, but we don’t need much to understand a little more about him. It’s cool though to get a new angle on a tired formula.
With that said, my main complaint on Bay’s Friday the 13th it’s got too many pretty people. I’m not bitching about the girls, but hell, even the redneck pot head guy looks too good, too actor-ish. Couldn’t they have at least cast someone more “authentic”? At the same time, the movie is little too PC safe (despite the death and nudity of course). Isn’t it too predictable to have an Asian dude and a black dude with a group of snobby white folks? Maybe if they were the ones who lived, but predictably, they die fast.
Speaking of death, damn, Friday the 13th has some moments. The first act has one of the best bear claw moments that I can remember, and who doesn’t enjoy the old place-a-person-in-a-sleeping-bag-over-a-roasting-fire gag. Well, everyone except the person in the bag. The movie never lets up as the murders become more violent, more painful. That’s really what makes a good horror flick. If you can get the story and characters decent, it’s the gore that matters. And Friday the 13th, despite Bay, gets that right.