Review: Friday the 13th [2009]

Dir. Marcus Nispel

Cast: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle

It appears that Michael Bay has grown tired of voluminous explosions in recent years and has turned his hand to violating and butchering horror movie mainstays from bygone days  (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher), and now has fancied to take on one of the cornerstones of modern horror history... Jason Vorhees! Bay’s latest production, a quick and dirty remake of  Friday the 13th, is not as excruciating as it could have been, by that rationale it can not be called laudable either. What it does deliver are the staples required to make a Friday 'date-night' horror movie; sex, drugs and buckets o' blood (TM). Woefully it misses out on any aptitude to bestow anything approximating fear, but that’s not really the point, or is it?

The tale begins in 1980 at the culmination of the first Crystal Lake slaughter, as Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor) is about to slay the last camp counselor she holds responsible for the demise of her son Jason. The last counselor does away with Mrs. Voorhees, and the big surprise, well as everyone familiar with the original knows, Jason wasn’t dead after all. Rollover to the present, where a complement of opportunistic stoners and their girlfriends in search of a fabled marijuana oasis happen upon the now-deserted campground and suffer the 30-something Jason’s acrimony. Six weeks later another group of kids descend upon the other side of Crystal Lake to party at a friend’s lake house, while solitary biker type Clay (Padalecki) is fruitlessly searching for his sister Whitney (Righetti), an erstwhile constituent of the original coterie.

Now, credit where credit is due, the slays per minute ratio is notably high, especially from the title credits through to the expiration of the first group. Sadly this is also where the first cracks in this remake materialize, without exception, the deadly set pieces, while featuring numerous interesting nods to the original series, are meticulously competent. That's a positive upshot yes? Well in this case... no... it leaves the spectator feeling like director Nispel has picked up a copy of "The Dummies Guide to Making a Slasher Movie", rather than infusing the film with a fresh individuality that a reboot as heavyweight as this merits. Instead we get the prevalent application of million lux flashlights through to unnecessary lofty zooms to the seen-it-all-before 'between-the-floorboards' shots, all of which add naught to the film, let alone the genre as a whole.

You have to take movies like Friday the 13th as whole rather than as sum of their parts, which at times can prove arduous. But let me make one thing acutely clear: reviewers don’t dismiss these movies because they’re film snobs – well, some do, but that’s not the reason for most of us – they pan them because they’re basically indolent and unimaginative. Maybe in the 1980s you could get away with 'the formula' - shock, fatality, exposed flesh, coitus, panic, death... and on... - but these days cinemagoers have a far more sophisticated cognizance of the slasher genre, and to not make a veracious effort at delivering something novel is, quite frankly, reprehensible.

Verdict: Another remake, another one to be left on the store shelf...

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