Friday the 13th

Dir: Marcus Nispel

Rating: 1.5

New Line Cinema

97 Minutes

Have we run out of ideas? Or have all the good characters already been created? There has been a recent rash of horror movie retreads and, God knows, they make cash. Michael Myers has been dusted off by Rob Zombie, The Hills had Eyes again and even the holiest of horror flicks(Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Dawn of the Dead) have been remade as gorier, less frightful affairs.

So, it makes sense to resurrect Jason, and for once, I don’t have much of a problem with this resuscitation. None of the Friday the 13th movies can be considered classic, so there is no legacy to mar. Let’s be honest, they are all terrible. Jason is also one of the most boring villains. Even his mythology is tedious. So, he drowned in a lake and now is back to avenge his mother? Big deal. I say, bring back Jason, but make him interesting.

Unfortunately, this Michael Bay produced version suffers from horror cliché-itis of the ’00s. See, the old Friday flicks had the ’80s version of this malady: shoe-string budgets, bad dialogue, bizarre musical interludes, beanpole actors that were not very good, but looked like real people. Flash forward 30 years and now you have hyperkinetic editing, schizophrenic shot length, airbrushed actors with bulging muscles and fake tits and slick special effects. But these ’00s horror films are missing something: a sense of humor. Unless you consider jokes about pot and boobs funny.

The biggest problem with this new Friday is it’s exactly what you would expect. Nubile teens are killed in brutal, creative ways, there are bad decisions made by stupid characters and Jason jumps out of the water at the end. Director Marcus Nispel, who is starting a cottage industry following his re-imagining of Texas Chainsaw Massacre wastes no time on character development. Sure, we see how Jason adopts his infamous hockey mask, but it feels like an obligatory, rather than revelatory moment. Nispel and Bay had a great opportunity to expand on the limited mythology of this much-beloved character, but unfortunately they play it by the numbers.

After an extended prologue that did admittedly surprise me, the “story” concerns Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) who travels to Crystal Lake in search of a missing sister. There he encounters a group of partying teens who are little more than fodder for Jason’s machete. And that’s about it: breasts are bared, knifes are shoved into heads and Jason strikes again. There is something similar in the compulsory sex scenes and the penetration of Jason’s various phallic devices of doom. Both acts are done with the same modicum of passion. Go figure.

Once again, I will bemoan the wasted opportunity here. Two things that made Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects such an interesting film were the eccentric characters and the dark sense of humor laced throughout. Nispel and Bay make no attempt to fool us here. It is fairly obvious who will live and who will die. Also, the characters are beyond clichés- there’s the moronic hick who likes to look at porn, the stoner black guy who feels it’s his duty to comment on any racial slight, the handy Asian whiz kid, the horny blonde that only wants to fuck, the rich Aryan asshole named Trent. Don’t worry, they all get killed. If Bay and Nispel don’t care, why should we?

by David Harris

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