Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: "Friday the 13th"

By now you know that the re-make -- excuse me, the re-boot -- of Friday the 13th was the number one movie at the box-office this past weekend, raking in an astonishing 42.4 million dollars. I was supposed to see it on Saturday as part of anti-Valentine's Day date with my friend Kathy but she bailed on me last minute, so I waited and went to a matinee today. Consequently, my review comes after the thousands that are already out there. And sadly, like the thousands of reviews already out there, my response to the movie is: "Meh."

Don't get me wrong, as I've stated before, I really wanted to like this movie. Director Marcus Nispel actually did a decent job with his remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so I hoped he would do as well or even better, here. Unfortunately, he didn't. Nispel's Friday the 13th isn't a bad movie; it just isn't very good, and I think it's a case of missed opportunities, more than anything else.

The movie starts where the original ended, with the sole survivor of the Camp Crystal Lake massacre beheading the killer (Jason's bat-shiat crazy mom). Moving on to present day, we find a group of hikers in the woods around Crystal Lake, in search of a supposed forgotten marijuana crop. They find the crop, along with a creepy, decrepit house filled with props that are meant to remind us of the eleven F13 movies that have come before. And of course, Jason finds them.

Skip ahead six weeks and Clay (Jared Padalecki of "Supernatural") is in town, looking for his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was among the pot-seeking hikers. He runs into a group of college kids in town for a weekend of pot, beer and sex at the rich boy's family vacation house on the lake. There's the gorgeous, arrogant tool (Travis Van Winkle); his too-nice-for-him girlfriend Jenna (Danielle Panabaker); a nerdy Asian pothead; a wannabe rapper; a slutty bimbo and another couple. As in all F13 movies, they're "all doomed!" They play beer pong, smoke dope, have sex and investigate the creepy abandoned camp grounds on the other side of the lake. And they are killed off one-by one, with an assortment of tools and weapons.

There are some surprisingly original murders in this version, as well as a first-time look at Jason's 'home' (a series of tunnels under the camp, reminiscent of the tunnels in Tobe Hooper's TCM sequel), but everything seems a bit too familiar. Even worse, not a second of it is scary. The film is completely lacking in suspense and surprise (even in its 'surprise' ending, which everyone knew was coming). The cast is pretty enough, though none of the hot boys are nearly naked enough - Padalecki never even takes off his shirt, though the women seem to do so without hesitation. Most egregious, was the lack of humor on display. In previous incarnations, some of Jason's victims could be found engaging in some sort of humorous behaviors before being mindlessly slaughtered. Nispel and company seem to have forgotten that humor is integral in a slasher movie, and everyone plays the thing so deadly serious that it makes for a really boring 97 minutes. Yes, there is the pervert licking the pages of a Hustler magazine and the guy trying to sneak a wank using a Land's End winter catalog for inspiration, but those scenes are more embarrassing than funny. Even the presence of hunky "Desperate Housewives" and "The Flash" star, Richard Burgi as a local police officer, can't save this movie from itself, despite his character's gruesome demise.

Rather than creating a new and inventive take on the genre, Nispel and screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift give us just another tired entry in a formula-ridden series. No stars. Friday the 13th is rated "R" for violence, language, nudity and drug use.

And speaking of which, I was most dismayed by the presence of at least three children in the audience who couldn't have been more than 10 years old. Two of them were brought by what had to be their grandmother, while the third was accompanied by a couple I must assume were her parents. What the hell is wrong with these people? Do they not know the meaning of the word 'inappropriate?' This is one of my personal pet peeves and Iwill never stop ranting about it. Children should not be subjected to the intensity of these kinds of movies, no matter how much they beg. Please, if you have kids who want to see a scary movie, take them to see Coraline. This is NOT a movie for 10 year-olds.

More, anon.



Anonymous said...

that had to be the worst ending ever. how the hell did Jason not get shredded and why would they drag him to the lake to dump him? how were they going to explain that Jason killed everyone and not them with out the body?

Prospero said...

Has no one in a horror movie ever seen a horror movie? ("Scream" doesn't count). They should have thrown him in the chipper and been done with it. Instead, despite being exhausted from running and fighting all night, they drag the giant body down to the lake and dump it off the pier, where we get the same sort of "surprise" ending we've seena thousand times. Lame.

Anonymous said...


My favorite deaths were the girl in the sleeping bag, the guy getting his leg caught in the trap (not his death just the sight of his leg in the trap) and the guy driving the boat (although that scene could have be done better).

I really enjoyed and appreciated that the blonde guy didn't just hope into the truck - yeah someone who's seen a movie or two.