Fri 13 Feb 2009
“C’mon in! The water’s fine!”
Theatrical Release Date: 02/13/2009
Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Derek Mears, Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Julianna Guill, Willa Ford, America Olivo
With the reboot to the hallowed “Friday the 13th” franchise upon us, let’s look at what director Marcus Nispel, screenwriters Damian Shannon & Mark Swift, and producer Michael Bay have provided for audiences on Valentine’s Day Eve.
On the positive side:
— The back story involving the mother of Jason Voorhies is included. I was worried this would be left out and it’s handled decently.
— Jason doesn’t start with a hockey mask. Franchise aficionados know that it isn’t until the third film in the series that the iconic faceplate is introduced and I’m happy to see the screenwriters went through the evolution of this element.
— There is appreciable female nudity and just enough gore to make sure this is not another watered down PG-13 teen horror flick. (It should have had more gore but at least there was some.)
— Hedonistic college-age kids have sex, drink alcohol and do drugs (thereby sealing their fate).
— The filmmakers made sure to cover their ethnic bases and continue time-honored clichés that are vital to any cheesy horror film.
— Jason is still a merciless killing machine, dispatching the witless fun-seekers with a mix of efficiency and sadistic glee. While few of the deaths are anywhere near spectacular or surprising, I do give them credit for updating my favorite – which involves a pretty girl and a sleeping bag.
On the negative side:
— Jason runs. Let me repeat that: Jason RUNS!. That’s weak … so very weak. He’s supposed to stalk his prey and through the magic of being a virtually unstoppable killing machine yet again back from the dead, end up in front of them after their frantic dash through the woods in a futile attempt to avoid their fate.
— Jason isn’t supposed to use skill based weapons; he’s fond of his machete (which was prominent here) and occasionally picks up a stray melee weapon. However, none of them should require more than a heavy swing or throw. I’d say more but I suppose it’s a small spoiler (not that it’s a major character that gets the shaft though).
— The ending (and I won’t spoil it) is a huge change from the traditional and cheesy moments that we’ve all come to know and love. Why ruin a good thing? Oh wait, this is Hollywood I’m talking about here … Why do I even ask?
So let’s see. That’s 6 positive comments and 3 negative ones. Using non-Euclidean geometry, and adjusting for the wind, that means that “Friday the 13th” gets a 3 out of 5. I was expecting a disaster of Pompeian proportions and instead witnessed a rainy day traffic collision. If you can look past some of the major tweaks to Jason’s modus operandi (Why is he RUNNING?), there are enough elements done right that will keep you entertained, if you come into it with the right mindset.
But the basic truth still remains: This franchise didn’t need a reboot. If Michael Bay and company really wanted to make a Jason film, just go ahead and make “Friday the 13th Part 12″ and edge the world closer to the ultimate Part 13, where Jason could have been put to rest once and for all.
And keep in mind that this isn’t a scary film. I’m a big wuss and barely jumped here and there (though I did cover parts of my eyes from time to time, expecting much worse than what was delivered). True horror buffs will find this insulting to their intelligence and those who just want a good slasher film will find it to be much more comedic than terrifying.
Instead of a trip to the theater (unless it’s a full crowd or you’ve been to happy hour), I’d recommend renting either Parts 4 (Corey Feldman!), 8 (Jason on a Boat!) or 10 (Future Jason in Space!). Each will give you the same (and better) thrills at a fraction of the cost – both to your pocketbook and your soul. Then when this hits the rental market, feel free to give it a try. I guess I can be thankful it didn’t go as bad as I thought it would … and that’s something, right? Right?