Friday the 13th (2009)

It could very well be that what I am about to say is considered pure blasphemy by hardcore fans and I am entirely in the minority here, but I was rather surprised how much fun I had with this remake. Unlike the recent abortion of an attempt at rebooting Nightmare on Elm Street, not only is this enjoyable, it is pretty well crafted movie. I would even go as far as say it works well both as a remake and as a new, modern, self-contained Friday the 13th movie. It’s violent, moderately sleazy with its use of nudity, appropriately dumb and just plain all around fun slasher movie to watch.

If one were to look the movie strictly from a remake perspective, it does more than an adequate job staying true to spirit of Jason Voorhees and the nods to the original movies are for the most part pretty neat and well done, rather than obnoxiously fanservice-y  and lame. I, for example, quite liked that instead of just immediately having Jason wears his iconic hockey mask (I think in the old movies you had to wait until the third installment for it to be introduced) Jason in this remake starts off using a simple burlap sack as a mask, a cute reference to Friday the 13th Part 2 that was the first time Jason was featured as the killer, and he only acquires the mask by chance after killing someone at an attic and sort of just stumbling into it. It’s admittedly a bit cheesy, but oh what the hell, I’ll allow it. Another nice nod to the original movies is the fact that they kept Jason’s mom as the original Chrystal lake killer. They even managed to cover her  short reign of terror in clever way within the remake by featuring the murders in the opening credits sequence. A simple but very effective way to maintain the basic lore of the franchise and get it out of the way so that we could jump right into Jason murdering teens, which is what fans of the franchise want to see.

Even when you look this flick as its own stand alone movie, in my opinion the remake still works reasonably well. It’s entire competent as a basic slasher movie, and the characters, while superficial due to time constraints, at least tend to get some minimal characterization which helps to differentiate them from one another without resorting to just have everybody act like a stereotypical token stock character before their inevitable demise. As an interesting new approach, which I don’t think or at least remember really seeing before, this time around Jason actually had a faint resemblance of having some character beyond having that of having an uncontrollable urge to kill all teenagers that cross his path, as he ends up kidnapping one of the girls and keeping her captive due to the resemblance to his long dead, decapitated mother. It’s nice change of pace to see that under that expressionless mask, there is something more to him than an emotionless murder robot.

The only slightly annoying thing about the structure is that I figured out very quickly that the kids featured at the opening of the movie were pure slaughter fodder once Danielle Panabaker’s name was shown in the opening credits and she was clearly absent from the group that was camping near the camp Crystal Lake. I mean, you kinda deep down knew they had to be there just to get killed early on, since that’s how slasher movies work, you need some blood to be spilled in order for the story to start, but they did a fairly good job at making you at least partly wonder for a minute if this time around they were going for more of a sneaky, a la Halloween’s Michael Myers style lurk and stalk killer than the classic walking weapon of mass destruction Jason. In any case, it was commendable that they spent a whopping 23 minutes on the opening kill segment, before the table was cleared of initial cannon fodder and the movie allowed the real main plot finally to start with Danielle and crew.

Speaking of murder, now we get to one of the most important and fun part of slasher movies: the kills. If your slasher movie does not have kills with the proper pazazz to them, it’s going to get boring really fast, which  some of the previous Friday the 13th sequels have been guilty of. Thankfully, apart from one or two exceptions, the gruesome murders are all relatively inventive and there’s enough variety in style that it never gets boring when a new nubile corpse is added to the kill count. Aside from the classic “get chopped to pieces or gutted by a machete” routine, they all have some level of variety in them to keep the murders fun. The most notable kill in the movie even had some real ingenuity in it: it involved first sealing the victim inside a sleeping bag, propping her upside down from a rope and then roasting her over the camp fire like a human marshmallow.

It’s only too unfortunate that after managing to deliver an otherwise excellent horror remake, they make a drastic misstep with the actual ending of the movie. After Jason finally is defeated and he’s dead, well as dead as he can ever be, instead of calling the police which would be the sensible thing, the remaining survivors decide to drag Jason’s body to the nearby lake and throw him and his mask in it separately, for absolutely no other reason other than to do a very lame re-imagined take of the ending from the original Friday the 13th. It’s the scene where Alice, the sole remaining survivor, after decapitating Mrs. Voorhees and then rowing herself into middle of the lake so she could wait in safety for dawn to break, gets attacked  out of nowhere by a partly decomposed body of Jason Voorhees that had been hiding below the surface of the lake. Trying to redo it in the remake doesn’t work at all, for couple of reasons. First of all, in the original movie you weren’t expecting it, so it genuinely manages to take you by surprise. Here, the minute you see them dump Jason’s body into the lake, you just know Jason is going to wake up again because his immortality is such a well known part of modern pop culture. The re-imagined scene also lacks all of the horror elements that made the original scene work, it’s only there as a predictable jump scare, and it’s super lame because it doesn’t add anything to the ending. You have no real false sense of security in the remake, which is essential for such a surprise jump scare to work properly. Even if the ending isn’t so terrible that it ruins the entire movie for you, it does leave you with a bit of an sour after taste that is detrimental to the overall enjoyment of the movie.


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