Review: Friday 13th
PLOT: When a group of campers find themselves at odds with some psycho in the woods, it draws attention to the area from the brother of one of the girls. When he arrives to check things out, just near Camp Crystal Lake, he find that the locals aren’t that helpful. He soon runs into a new group of young folk planning for a fun time in the woods. And fun is what they have until they find out exactly whose woods they are having intercourse in. Thus, Jason Voorhees is back, and he is still plenty pissed off because some chick decapitated his mom in front of him… it seems like he might of let her know that he didn’t drown. That way none of this murder business would’ve happened. Dumb kid… head full of rocks.
FRIDAY THE 13th films have never been critic darlings. Basically, you’ve got a masked maniac hacking people off in creative ways. The original film came off the success of HALLOWEEN and thankfully, since it was a success, the iconic Jason arrived in the form of a sequel. While he appears in the dream sequence (?) in the original, he takes over his mother’s legacy in Part 2. But what about the hockey mask? You all know well and good that it didn’t show up until Part 3. And with the 2009 reboot, they seem to take bits and pieces of the first four movies which makes this feel less like a remake and more like a sequel. And with that, I guarantee most critics will not be on board with the new F13. After all, I’ve always considered this franchise the meat and potatoes of the modern day horror. These movies were never as serious as the Halloween films, and they weren’t as imaginative as A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. They are what they are, the adventures of a machete loving murderer with ample gore and T & A.
Now as I mentioned, most critics will probably not welcome this new film with open arms. It isn’t trying to be overly creative or serious, it sticks to the formula. A group of fun loving young people head out to the woods where bad stuff happened and guess what? Bad stuff happens. But what is different this time around is that, while F13 remains true enough to the original, it also comes with a pitch black edge. Jason Voorhees is a hunter here, and a damn good one at that. He survives in underground tunnels and a little abandoned cabin complete with his mother’s keepsake… if you don’t know what that is you certainly haven’t watched the series. And what makes Jason a little more terrifying than he was in most of the sequels, is the fact that he seems to really enjoy the kill. The murders aren’t necessarily gory, but the way they are delivered is pretty brutal. We’re not necessarily treading into SAW territory… probably closer to DELIVERANCE without the “squeal like a pig“ rape scene.
As far as the actors, they are all quite serviceable in their prospective roles. I had fun with Aaron Yoo from DISTURBIA. I also enjoyed the “jerk” character (who is sometimes the “bitch” character, for example, Melissa in Part 7). Here, he is played for fun by Travis Van Winkle. This guy is such an ass, that you just can’t wait for him to meet Jason face to face. But the one cast member that really stood out for me was Derek Mears as Jason. Kane Hodder offered his own personal touch and was able to really make Jason a groovy horror icon. And Derek continues that trend by making another bad ass character come to life. He is much more human than the past few films, but he is also somehow more deadly. When he attacks, he really attacks, and does so with a vengeance. You have to wonder if he is pissed off about his dead mother or just protecting his weed… yep, thar be some pot in Jason’s woods.
Another question viewers might have is how did Marcus Nispel change Camp Crystal Lake. For the most part, the old camp feels the same, just a bit more stylish and dark. This is definitely the best looking of all the Friday the 13th films. I'm sure this will be a little too Platinum Dunes-ish for some. But visually, it is quite impressive. And that is certainly due to Marcus and his DP Daniel Pearl (DP on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974). While there is a sense of fun, I didn’t find it quite as (pardon the pun) campy as the original series. I did sort of miss that because honestly, the first four are very fond favorites of mine. So yes, this may disappoint a few fans, but the creepy spirit of the original seems to have found its way into the script by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. There are a handful of moments that hint at earlier films, which again, makes this feel like a sequel as opposed to a remake or what have you. And as I mentioned, just watch the original films and you will see how this modern telling encompasses bits and pieces of each film.
While I did love this stab at F13 and it is definitely one of my favorites in the series, I did have a few issues. First off, the score by Steve Jablonsky seemed to follow the “let’s make ‘em jump with the music” route. Maybe if this happened a couple of times, I wouldn’t have minded it so much. But no, it happens a lot. It is a tad distracting and it really only makes you jump because loud noises make you jump. I missed the more effective score by Harry Manfredini in the original series. And speaking of the original, there is a wonderful point in the film that really could have used a cameo from Betsy Palmer, but they went with the kooky woman from Nispel’s Texas Chainsaw. I really believe that fans of the series would have liked to see a familiar face… maybe for Part 2 guys? Please! And yes, just like old times, there is ample opportunity for a sequel. While the latest installment feels more like a really dark and vicious sequel, it is still a welcome return for America‘s favorite hockey mask donning slasher killer. My rating 8/10 -- JimmyO
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