FRIDAY THE 13th (2009)
Remake…reboot…re-imagining…whatever you classify this 2009 attempt to breath new life into this time-warn series, Marcus Nispel’s Friday The 13th is basically just more of the same with a bigger budget and glossier look. It’s basically just another Friday The 13th movie that, once it briefly replays the series’ origins in it’s first few minutes, cuts to modern day and just becomes another entry in the series. As such it isn’t all that bad, it’s just that it gives us very little that we haven’t seen before. The film opens on Friday The 13th 1980 with a re-enactment of the final moments of the original film with a pretty and imperiled camp counselor taking the head off crazed Mrs. Voorhees (Nana Visitor) in self defense. We then cut to modern day where a group of campers, some of whom are looking for a nearby marijuana crop, enter the woods surrounding Crystal Lake near the old camp where the 1980 murders took place. Of course, the story of the massacre of the camp counselors by crazy Mrs. Voorhees and her subsequent death, is told around the campfire along with the tale of son, Jason who witnessed his mother’s beheading and now stalks the woods looking for revenge. Before you can say ‘sharp objects’, a mysterious figure wearing a bag over his head is slaughtering the campers one by one in gruesome fashion. Six weeks later a group of attractive young twenty-somethings are heading up to a house on Crystal Lake while Clay (Jared Padalecki) roams the town with fliers looking for his missing sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was among the previous group whose fate we saw moments earlier. Meeting at a general store Clay bonds with pretty Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), but earns the ire of the party house owner Trent (Travis Van Winkle). The group has also caught the attention of another individual, one whose has made this area his home and deals harshly with anyone who intrudes on his turf. While Jenna and Clay roam the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake looking for clues of Whitney’s whereabouts, a hulking killer in a hockey mask…and we do see him obtain this…starts to decimate the young party-ers in blood soaked ways. Will any of these unsuspecting young people survive the wrath of this very real and very lethal local urban legend?
Marcus Nispel does a fairly good job of bringing some impact back to proceedings that we are all too familiar with, but it is that very familiarity that is the film’s Achilles Heel as well. He does create some suspense and tension and gives some strength back to the stalk and kill scenes, but aside from a few new twists such as Jason living in an underground lair beneath Camp Crystal Lake and keeping Whitney as a hostage as she bares a passing resemblance to his mother, the film is basically just another Friday The 13th movie and we know what to expect even if it’s done well…right down to the ‘shock’ ending. It looks good, Nispel’s movies always do. The gore is top notch and very plentiful and the movie moves quickly once it gets going. As for the last act when these films generally kick into gear, Nispel gives us one that is fairly intense with a lot of action and gore leading up to the expected showdown between Jason and whomever is left.
As for the cast… Derek Mears, as Jason gives, the iconic killer a presence and this goes a long way to make things work, as his Jason is imposing. Leads Panabaker and Padalecki work together very well as the strong willed heroine and determined hero, respectively. The rest of the characters may be stereotypical for this kind of movie, but the attractive young cast give all their characters a little life and personality, so they are not just generic victims even if some do not have a lot of screen time.
As this series as a whole goes, this re-whatever probably ranks among some of the better sequels when all is said and done. It’s lively, and returns the series to it’s more serious tone and makes Jason someone to be feared again. It may not have the classic aura of some of the original entries and if it was the first of it’s kind, it may be an enjoyable, but forgettable horror flick. When grouped in with the rest of this classic franchise, it’s an entertaining and slick enough entry that manages to return a bit of the old thunder to a familiar format…even if it’s basically more of the same and adds little new to a decades old formula.
3 hockey masks.