Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review: Friday the 13th

A Warner Brothers release 2009

Directed by Marcus Nispel

Written by Damian Shannon & Mark Swift

A group of young adults discover a boarded up Camp Crystal Lake, where they soon encounter Jason Voorhees and his deadly intentions.

Not so much a reboot or remake as it is a sequel of sorts, the new Friday the 13th amalgamizes elements from the first three Jason movies to create a 'fresh start' for the series. Continuing where the original Friday the 13th left off -- with Jason's mother being brutally beheaded whilst her son watches in the darkness -- the film quickly dispenses its ludicrous plot involving a weed heist and starts the killing almost right away.

While Jason and his victims may have never looked as stylish or sexy as they do in this entry to the series, they've also never been so damn boring. The strength of a slasher always rests on the creativity of its kills, something this entry severely lacks. Most of the death scenes rely on run of the mill pop up/jump 'look out behind you!' scare tactics, or even blatantly rehash kills from early Jason flicks (ie: the famous jump through the window scene from Part II). Several key story elements, such as the manipulation of Jason's mommy complex, are all lifted from earlier Jason flicks. As a result the whole flick has a been there/done that, I-saw-that-coming-from-a-mile-away type feel.

Rather than amping the creativity of the kills and the omnipresent nature of Jason's character, the film relies on and retools the worst slasher cliches: annoying, bratty, stupid teens and their sick vices. While I commend the filmmakers for managing to get Willa Ford naked and showing an ample amount of breasts, it's hard to sit through a flick where the main characters keep saying "bro" and pound beers till they vomit. Truly they are better off dead. The stupidity and immorality of the victims has always been a major thematic point for these kind of flicks, but I'm not sure if they've ever been quite as vapid or abhorrent.

It would be nice, for a change, to see some relatively decent people go up against the monster that is Jason. Or, perhaps even better, some actual camp counselors. Why does the series always move away from the camp idea? Wouldn't it be more terrifying to see some teenagers dealing with young children as well as a masked psycho killer? Balancing responsibility with survival? Camp Crystal Lake is barely present in these films anymore (at least beyond an overgrown forest/murder scene), and it would be nice to see it return.

Ultimately this reboot/rehash/whatever was all about streamlining the inconic killer and making a version that adhered to our modern technical standards. On that level it succeeds. But as entertainment it's completely inept. Amping all the intolerable cliches and lacking any real creativity, Friday the 13th is a truly awful representation of the slasher genre. Hearing that the guys responsible for this are planning a Nightmare on Elm Street reboot sends shudders through my spine...

No comments: