Friday The 13th (2009)

2009’s Friday The 13th is not a remake. It’s a rejuvenation of the franchise in the same way that Halloween H20 was for the Halloween series of films. It either ignores or reinvents a lot of the Jason Voorhees history to suit it’s own needs and sometimes pretends that everything that came after the first movie didn’t happen at all. Via a brief introductory scene in which Pamela Voorhees; Jason’s Mother and the original movie’s infamous killer, is beheaded by the last of the remaining Camp Crystal Lake employees, we move swiftly on to the introduction of a thoroughly disposable set of walking clichés.

The set-up is needlessly long and results in what we all suspected from the start; their grisly deaths, although none of them are particularly inventive and with the exception of a bear-trap related incident and a machete through the hand, are all fairly innocuous. It’s only after 25 predictable minutes that the title screen flashes up and we are then treated to the establishing scenes of the next slew of horribly trite teenagers that will end up on the wrong end of Jason’s machete. All bases are covered; nice-as-pie brunette, slutty, pneumatic-chested blondes, drug-addled racial stereotypes and obnoxious jocks with ridiculous surfer hair. All of them may as well have ‘Hockey-masked serial killer fodder’ written on their foreheads in indelible ink that only hockey-masked serial killers can see.

The character development is laughably bad, reduced only to poor one-liners and predictable dialogue in an effort to keep the running time down after the pointlessly flabby first act. Each of the characters is deplorable in their 2-dimensionality and the three protagonists that we are supposed to care for are nice enough but regrettably bland. Jared Padalecki does his ‘Sam-from-Supernatural’ bit and employs a range of pained facial expressions whilst brooding and generally having a big forehead. That being said, he’s the best of the bunch, with the rest of the acting falling firmly into the ‘Channel 5’s daytime movie about a terminal disease/custody battle/extra-marital affair’ category with the possible exception of Danielle Panabaker who is one of the few cast members you might not wish an immediate death upon.

As with lots of modern slashers, the audience will most likely find themselves elated when Jason exacts his murderous vengeance upon the ‘clearly not teenaged’ teenagers. It’s baffling that writers these days can’t seem to bring themselves to pen more likable parts. There have always been vile characters in slasher movies, that no-one will shed a tear for when they meet their untimely demise but they were in the minority whilst today, they seem to overshadow the nicer characters whom you might want to survive. It’s because of this that there is no real tension in Friday The 13th. In place of the tension is a knowing anticipation of the death of someone horrifically unlikable and therefore a sort of relief.

Jason himself is an imposing enough figure, and seems to have a darn sight more common sense and creativity than the original movies gave him credit for. One of Friday The 13th’s saving graces is the ease and speed with which he ploughs through the offensively loathsome teenagers and saves us from further monotony.

The story is suitably poor stuff with the characters making one incredibly bad decision after the next. Despite the fact that they are staying in a hunting lodge, it’s not until the final twenty minutes that any of them thinks to look for a gun to defend themselves with. The writing isn’t awful but it just doesn’t display a whole lot of respect for its audience and is, for that reason, a little insulting to anyone over the age of 15.

The direction is decent enough stuff, if a little showy, which is no surprise given that Marcus Nispel started out life as a music video director before going on to remake The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 2003. The ever present scantily clad females, self indulgent editing and the movies glossy veneer suggest that he’s still in music video mode. Even Jason’s new mask looks intentionally, rather than accidentally, weathered and grimy which rips the film of any real dread and keeps it looking ‘safe’.

For all its faults, Friday The 13th is not a bad film, in fact, for fans of slashers there is a lot to enjoy but it, like its characters, is unfortunately disposable and ultimately forgettable while somehow still managing to be a worthy addition to the franchise. At the end of the day, it’s a ‘Hollywood horror’; it’s predictable, contrived and thoroughly devoid of any real tension but you could still do a lot worse than to watch this latest foray into the world of Jason Voorhees.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.