Friday the 13th (2009)

JANUARY 30, 2009

GENRE: SLASHER
SOURCE: THEATRICAL (PRESS SCREENING)

Ever since I saw the teaser at Comic Con, I have been on board with Platinum Dunes' Friday the 13th remake. I liked the cast, I liked Jason's look, and I liked that they seemingly were trying really hard to make an F13 film that would sit comfortably with parts 1-4 (swap out 3 for 6, and that's the best of the franchise, by far). And while the end product is satisfying and occasionally great, there are some blunders that keep it from being the "ultimate Jason" movie that it could have easily been with another pass or two at the script.

Let's start with what works. The opening scene, which quickly explains the events of the original Friday, is a great idea. You can't ignore the mother, but you don't want to dwell on it either, so they blend it with the opening credits and get it out of the way. Also, Derek Mears is a great Jason - he's got the physicality and presence to match up with the best of them, and Scott Stoddard has done a great job with the makeup, making him look human, but not "just a guy in a mask", like he often appeared in the earlier films. You really feel that he's a guy who's lived in the woods for his whole life. And I really liked that they didn't come up with a bunch of "unique" kils - Jason sticks to the basics (machete, axe, bare hands) for the most part. He even uses an arrow for the first time since the original I believe. Like I said in my review for Part 2 - it's the films without gimmicks, with Jason just being Jason, that turn out the best.

But for every plus, there is a minus. The biggest is the rather awkward setup. After the "Mrs. Voorhees" prologue, we are introduced to a group of kids. But Jared Padalecki and the other top billed actors are not among them, so you know they aren't long for this world - they are ultimately just there to provide some fodder and introduce Amanda Righetti's character, who Padalecki will spend the entire film looking for once he is finally introduced. The odd thing is: this throwaway group is actually more fun and "Friday"-esque than the real group that comes along later. So while you are enjoying their antics and interactions (not to mention the fact that Righetti and America Olivo are among the most beautiful actresses in franchise history), you know they're all goners, and you just kind of want to get on to the actual movie. It's essentially a second prologue, albeit one that lasts about 15-20 minutes. As a result, by the time the REAL group came along, I felt like I was already watching a sequel. And furthermore, this limits the amount of time that THESE kids can spend together before separating and meeting their demise, which is a drag.

There is one bright spot in the main group though: Travis Van Winkle's character. He's a douchebag, but the kind of douchebag that you love. Nearly every one of his lines is laugh out loud worthy, particularly his interactions with Padalecki, and he steals the movie away from everyone that isn't Jason. Padalecki, on the other hand, is almost a non-factor in the movie. He's playing a variant of the Rob character from Final Chapter, but he just doesn't fit into the film at all. Maybe it's because he's a much more familiar face than the others, but whatever the cause, he sticks out like a sore thumb. The other kids are natural and fun and function as they are supposed to, no complaints there.

But I couldn't help but be distracted by one of the guys, who has an unfortunate resemblance to actor Mike Vogel from the Chainsaw remake. I know it's the same director and DP as that film, but I wasn't expecting their Friday to look SO MUCH like it. It technically looks great and beautiful, I never once buy that they are in New Jersey (it was actually shot in the same town as Tobe Hooper's original Massacre), and Marcus Nispel/Daniel Pearl have filtered the hell out of everything (really orange daytime, really blue nighttime) - nothing in the movie looks natural, resulting in a movie that actually looks the complete opposite from a Friday film, which is naturally lit and thus kind of bland. They went from one extreme to another, and thus at times I felt like I was watching a sequel to their Chainsaw film whenever Jason wasn't on screen. At one point, Padelecki and one of the girls discover a wheelchair in the underground tunnel system that Jason uses (he's sort of a Rambo-y survivalist here, with traps and everything), and while it's supposed to be a little reference to Friday 2, the first thing that popped in my mind was finding Franklin in Hooper's Chainsaw 2, because so much of the film felt from that universe instead of Friday's.

One final gripe concerns Jason's mother issues. Righetti looks like her, so he keeps her chained up. How is that "fun"? Between that and the traps he had lying around the area, it started to become dangerously close to Saw/Hostel territory (I actually wrote "Jigson" down in my notes). To its credit, he simply chains her up and her attempts to get free don't involve any self-inclicted pain, but still: the sight of a girl chained up and screaming is not what I think of when I think of "sticking to the tone of Fridays 1-4" (Brad Fuller and Andrew Form's own words). I know it's a "re-imagining" and yadda yadda, but they should have figured a way to come up with their own unique story (which they have) while keeping the light tone intact. Maybe we just have different ideas of what the first few films were like - I think of completely political incorrect teens, fake scares, and keeping the Final Girl out of harm's way for the entire film so she can find all of her dead friends later, but none of those things are present here.

However, silver lining and all - the "search for missing sister" setup allows for the film to have essentially two Final Girls. Righetti is one, the other is Danielle Panabaker as the "nice girl" of the 2nd group. You know the fates of every other character*, so it was nice to have a little bit of suspense whenever one of the two girls were in danger, because you suspect that one of them will buy it, you're just not sure which. It's one of the best ways around an inherent flaw in the slasher formula I've ever seen.

I know the review sounds mostly negative, but that's because I glossed over the great things about it, so you can enjoy it for yourself, while backing up my problems so you know I'm not just bitching. Everyone knows I am in Michael Bay's corner (I was the only one to cheer when his name came onscreen), and I've enjoyed all of PD's other remakes. And I enjoyed this one too; if 1-4 were their goal, then they have come pretty close to making it (it's better than 3, actually). I was hoping for something closer to 1 or 2, and maybe with time I will feel that way (I should note that some of my fellow horror nerds, such as Devin from CHUD and Ryan from Shock, loved it almost unconditionally). It's the best since 6 by far, which in itself is a huge accomplishment, as I was starting to suspect that it was just not possible to make a good Jason film anymore. The Dunes have done that; I just hope next time they make a great one.

What say you?

*At one point the token black guy goes to look for his missing (dead) friend, and says something like "I will surprise you at every turn!". Some guy in the back of the theater yelled "I'm surprised you weren't the first to die!!!" I laughed heartily for a solid 5 minutes.

26 comments:

  1. Can we get a "yay" or "nay" at least?

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  2. Wait until the 13th!

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  3. Hey BC i liked the movie..but ya it did have a chainsaw feel to it...i loved the new jason..just like running zombies..if i saw a running jason after me..id piss myself...gotta see it again and it will be a blu ray in my collection...now lets get a 2nd one without the tunnels! oh and btw..jason only wanted the kids to leave his weed alone...stealing his crash crop was pissing him off!

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  4. saw the midnight show and was satisfied. didn't LOVE it, but certainly didn't hate it.

    the dialogue was hilarious and although some of the cinematography was a little dark and did remind me of that typical remake feel, the movie overall was good

    it was one of the first times where at one point i thought "damn this has to be almost over and it feels like it flew by"

    also i loved the opening sequence because i didn't realize at first that these kids were just a set up and once i did it was sweet to watch them get knocked off only to bring in another group


    as someone who is borderline obsessed with the Friday movies, the remake satisfied me.

    and for the record i HATED the tcm remake and the Halloween remake so this was a HUGE improvement over both of those

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  5. RE: You tweet - I actually consider myself pretty middle-of-the-road irt Friday 13th: I enjoy a bunch of 'em, will watch any of them, but love none of them.

    What is weird is that I remember when each of them was released in theaters.

    This I'll probably catch on DVD, I hate to say it. Or at the cheap seats ($2 ghetto movies!) But I hated what this dude did to TCM so I can't say I have high hopes. I predict it will make buckets of dollars tonight though.

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  6. Saw the movie this afternoon and seriously loved it. I see where you were coming from with some of your critiques, agree with ya partly, but none of flaws hurt my enjoyment in the slightest. And I will have to disagree with you about Jared Padelecki, I thought he was really good in it.

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  7. No Padalecki was fine, acting wise... I just think he didn't fit in as well. It's obvious they were patterning him after Rob, but Rob wasn't as much of a focal point of the movie. Just felt like there were too many subplots, and with the two group setup, there was already precious little time with the main group (Trent, Chewie, etc), so to keep cutting to Padalecki handing out fliers was a bit troublesome.

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  8. I loved the original films growing up as a kid and high hopes set for this one. All I knew going into it was Micheal Bay and crew from Texas Massacre were producing it. I'd have to say I thought it was Great!

    When it came to the opening, I very quickly realized they were goners. I could not imagine only that many people being slashed up in one Jason film. That would have made for a very low body count. The simplistic creativity in the killings and suspense for that opening was a great kick in the ass to start things off. I wish some of that tone stuck around a bit more later in the film. For the duration they kept the kills old school which was cool, as you said BC with the weapons.

    After that opening I was hoped they were NOT going to work in some hicksville, cheesy cop investigation plot. Which it they did not, so thank god for that. In fact the only police intervention was at the beginning and that was quickly brushed off. Then again towards the end, and he was taken care of within a minute. They kept the story about the mischievous kids being the main focus of who Jason was picking off one by one, which I thought was perfect.

    I saw this at 9:30pm on Friday the 13th. So needless to say the theater was packed and rowdy. Late in the movie Jason picks up an axe for the first time and launches the thing through the air killing off the token black guy. At this point, rather loudly, I cheered being excited over Jason's eventual use of an Axe. Then quickly realizing people may have thought I was cheering over the token black guy finally being killed off. At that moment someone else yelled out, "it's about time!" Which made me feel a little better and I also proceeded to laugh my ass off.

    Point being BC I'm glad I wasn't the only one.

    I noticed a lot of the same negatives as you did BC. One other thing I thought was missing. They could have made a bit more room for the quiet, suspenseful, wooded scenes with Jason POV shots. Maybe even a couple more of the iconic cackle, which you only really heard in the opening. I missed that feel of added confusion where you don't quite know yet who Jason is peering over and about to kill. A lot of the movie was very fast pace and in your face. They could have easily worked this in. Thus adding some more suspense and breaks in tempo to a good period of the movie during the daytime where they are split up all over the lake.

    At the end of the day, I thought they did a great job of keeping up with everything that truly makes the character of Jason Voorhees. All I really was hoping for was some good ol' Jason slashing, carnage and gratuitous nudity, and I think that's exactly what I got out of the deal! It was a nice break from the straight up torture flicks you get these days.

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  9. The Producers and Filmmakers made a movie about a guy in a mask terrorizing a bunch of models. They stole a camera move from the Original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and have now used that low angle tracking shot to make two entire movies. Of course F13th09 reminds everybody of TCM and the remakes, ripoffs, and wannabees they all employ that same camera move over and over. Also the music was limp! You gotta have the right score, and the remake didnt have anything memorable going on. The real reason Jason is scary is because he might be out there looking in the window. The good films in the franchise all exploit voyeurism. The remake had none of that. They made a Jason movie. It wasnt bad, but Friday the 13th? Thats the day Eve bit the apple, and now women are cursed with 13 cycles a year. Bad stuff happens around Friday the 13th. Did the story even take place on Friday the 13th? I cant recall. Lazy screenwriting. Lazy music. Lazy camera work.

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  10. I haven't seen this flick yet, and I don't want to, but I do enjoy reviews pointing out fears I had about the movie from day one. One thing you said BC was "I know it's the same director and DP as that film, but I wasn't expecting their Friday to look SO MUCH like it." It's funny because that's exactly what I was expecting (I hated PD's TCM remake and prequel) and when I saw the Friday trailer I was like "great another crappy slick looking movie". That's not what those original Friday films were and that is also part of their charm.

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  11. Great Review BC!

    I agree with you, for the most part. . .

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  12. i saw it last night..

    i loved it.

    Michael Bay definitely threw his old people trying to be all Chainsaw Massacre style in it...BUT..
    one thing that kept me rockin in the movie was the music.. DAMN it was perfect.

    it was great kill after great kill for the most part, but once the final few were there, it picked up pace big time.. running, and close calls and all the fun with great music. It inspired me thats for sure.


    and now i want to revisit the originals. badly..

    I liked the way they portrayed him more personal in this.

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  13. Gotta give my opinion on this one.


    SPOILERS

    1.I really thought it could've been better. Miss Voorhees was an awful, awful actress. PLUS we didnt even get to see her being decapitated! The opening sequence should've been a cut down version of Pamelas massacre.

    2. The characters and dialogue were FANTASTIC.
    I loved most of them, but I think it should've been a little more self aware, and twist audience expectation. I'd have LOVED for the film to end up with that Asian dude and the black guy surviving and fighting Jason. They were the best characters in the movie by far.

    3. The trailer gave everything away, and the producers told us that it didnt. I was expecting epic win from this. But no, they made an awesome trailer but a weak film, and where was the bit where Jason smashes up the car from the trailer?

    4. Where were the cool inventine kills? After watching the awesomely gory My Bloody Valentine 3D, and then this- the kills are just waaay too... sedate. I would've LOVED to see Clay or even Jason put through the grinder at the end. And I can't beleive they did the thing where he he holds the screwdriver to the side of the guys throat and they make it look like he's stabbing him.

    5. Where was the line "did you know that a young boy drowned here?"!? That line had become a running joke between me and my friends, and it wasn't in the movie!?

    6. They didn't explain where jason came from clear enough, I don't think. All my friends came out thinking he was a zombie.

    7. That ending. I actually shouted "WHAT THE FUCK!?" at the screen when Jason somehow propelled himself up out of the water and through the wood, wearing the mask that we just saw fall no where near him- I was like "ah well, fair enough, it's a dream sequence". Then the movie ended.

    So dissapointing. I say Nay.

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  14. this is a reply to Emmet J Kiernan

    Well technically you weren't suppose to think he was a zombie because it wasn't implied he was a zombie till the 6th movie. plus it was suppose to be somewhat of a 'remake', jason really didn't do that many inventive kills in the old ones, actually though i thought some of the kills in the new one were pretty neat and different. plus you HAD to have known the movie was gonna end like that, especially when they dumped his body in the lake.

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  15. I liked it a lot. Friday the 13th is not that hard to mess up when you think about it. I love the series to death, but let's be honest.....the plot was never strong. It was your basic slasher, plot wise. None of the sequels really fit together. It was just Jason going crazy with a new set of campers. That's why I think Michael Bay should've just named this another part of the series rather than starting something new of his own. It would've been better than Jason X & that garbage with Freddy. I think everyone loves Jason the character rather than the actual movie, which is why I think the plot was never strong. Halloween actually had a plot that was destroyed by Rob Zombie by adding that back story.


    Tiff

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  16. I saw this a couple of hours ago, and I still don't know what to think of it. It didn't feel like a F13 movie. And not just because of the TCM remake look of the film. I think I would have liked to see more of Camp Crystal Lake.

    The cast was mostly enjoyable. And Ryan Hansen, the one that reminds you of Mike Vogel was actually one of my faves. Though I don't think they look anything alike lol

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  17. I got everything I wanted out of this. It's nice to see Jason movin' like he's got a purpose, and you can tell that the people involved actually cared about the movie. For slasher fodder, the actors all perform admirably, with Travis Van Winkle being the obvious standout. The nudity is tacky, funny, and fun. The kills are occasionally a bit lackluster (I'm not a big fan of the first camper-death, for example- apparently he died from backing into a tree and having his ear severed?) and while I like the idea of the intro-recap, I feel like it wasn't pulled off very well (why don't we see the decapitation?). Having the "fireside story" bit seemed really unnecessary after that intro, too. For the most part, though, I like the somewhat more "realistic" tone, and the directness of the murders. Jason doesn't fuck around- much, anyway. The "tunnels" as an explanation for Jason popping up all over the place is cool, and that glimpse of Jason's archery trophies was classy. A character survived who I didn't expect to. All in all, F1309 isn't perfect, but I'd say it's definitely one of the better (maybe one of the best?) Fridays to date, and it's certainly worth your time and money if you're a fan of the series.

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  18. Worst F13 movie after JGTH... I'm not even bothering reviewing this mess, just to point out the lame kills and annoying characters, thank God I didn't pay to see this garbage.

    Michael Bay is a hack and some1 should stop him from butchering more classics, bitch should stick to blow things up in his Transformers flicks, he has no business making "horror" movies...to hell with him.

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  19. Someone Please Save HorrorNovember 4, 2009 at 3:49 PM

    Sorry, I think this had to be the worst F13 movie of them all. These guys totally ruined it for me with the whole underground tunnel and Jason-taking-prisoners thing. Someone please tell me why this was necessary. And Jason setting up elaborate traps and shop lights?? Come on. Jason doesn't need character development. He stalks and kills and that is all he needs. Period. Someone please stop these guys before they have Jason luring unsuspecting teens out to Crystal Lake by posting mysterious notes on their Facebook pages. So disappointed with this F13, and I really liked the job they did with TCM. I guess 1 for 2 ain't bad.

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  20. I was completely surprised with how much I enjoyed this film... and I HATE Michael Bay. I'd like to make him eat every pice of film shot for the Transformers franchise. But this was great. I liked the structure of the film which allowed for the slaughter of two whole groups of kids. It's a credit to the filmmakers and especially the actors that I was able to care about both groups before they were killed.

    I have three gripes. (I saw the extended killer cut on DVD just last night and that was my first exposure to the film, so maybe these problems weren't in the theatrical version.)

    1. Padalecki was likable at first because he was such a nice guy. The problem was that he quickly turned into a pussy when Jason attacked. He wouldn't let anyone go out and help the black dude. Not very heroic. They just stood there as he suffered through axe in the back syndrome. Then, when he and the two final girls are trying to escape tunnels, he for got the whole ladies first rule which led to one of them getting the machete. Not very heroic.

    2. When they came out into the bus and Jason attacked Padalecki, it was pretty safe to assume that he'd gotten killed off screen when Jason jumped back into the bus. After the girl pushed Jason down the hole, Padalecki suddenly shows up? They should have just cut the whole bus scene out to avoid them getting separated.

    3. Small technical gripe: Jason finished the black dude off by pushing the axe all the way through his body. Later, there is a shot of him floating face down in the hot tub with the axe imbedded in his back. That's a continuity error. Plus, why would Jason bother to throw his dead body into the hot tub anyway?

    Closing thought: That sex scene was astonishingly pornographic. Possibly the most pornographic scene I've viewed in a mainstream movie. I'm sure the theatrical version was toned down. It was so intense that it made me wonder how they got a legit actress to do it. It seems like they would've only been able to secure a porn actress for that. Wikipedia says that this was her first nude scene. What a way to break her cherry.

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  21. movie is dumb. i think hollywood is running out of ideas so they try and make remakes.lol. i honestly didnt think it was very impressive at all. just saying. =)

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  22. I liked this one! Probably because my expectations were really low, but still! I do agree with the negatives you point out here, but overall I enjoyed the ride. Although I liked the first group better, the second came with some laughs. I didn't like Trent as much but he was more than decent. Chewie was great, I spilled my water laughing at "I'd have a better chance f*cking a penguin." And I have to be honest, I said the SAME thing in response to the "I'll surprise you" comment. I also thought the fake scares were well done, ie audience thinking Chewie's body's in the freezer and it falls from the ceiling. I hate corny fake scares (Prom Night cough). As a side note, I love this site - no one I know really loves horror movies in this way so HMAD is like my little nerd haven every time I see a new one.

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