Friday, February 13, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW - "Friday the 13th" (2009)

    As a fan of the horror/”slasher” film, there are few in the vast ocean (of blood) of slasher imitators and cheap knockoffs and sequels over the years that are considered original or significant. Among these few great originals such as the first “Halloween” (1978), “Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) and even “Psycho” (1960), one series has survived the longest despite numerous sequels: “Friday the 13th” (1980). After 10 sequels and even a drop down fist fight with another slasher icon Jason Voorhees is regarded as one of the most memorable names in horror films, along others such as Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers (not “Shrek”!) even Leatherface. The 1980’s was when the slasher was the most prolific although it very quickly became stale and shallow. In recent years, Hollywood has attempted to revitalize the slasher/horror genre as the horror icons of the past come back from the grave to torment promiscuous teenagers once again!
            With the trend of remaking horror films in recent years with successes such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (2003) and Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” (2007) and “The Hills Have Eyes” (2006) have brought some much needed originality rather than failures like “Psycho” (1998) and “The Omen” (2006) which utterly defeated the purpose of the remake by just copying the original. As the horror icons have reemerged in the last decade with Leatherface (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) and Michael Myers (Halloween), the newest killer to be remade (or “re-imagined”) is none other but Jason Voorhees with the release of New Line’s “Friday the 13th” on February 13, 2009.
            Although genuinely frightening and mildly impressive the new “Friday the 13th” could easily be another installment (“Friday the 13th Part XII”) in the long series as the only connection with any of the original series would be the original “Friday the 13th” (1980) as it seems to take place after the events of the film with Jason’s mother Mrs. Voorhees being the killer. However it is more of a combination with the original and “Friday the 13th Part 2” (1981) as the murders have taken place years ago and a new group of licentious teenagers happen upon Camp Crystal Lake (apparently searching for a rumored marijuana crop, I didn’t know Jason was a pot-head) it’s obvious what is going to happen. 
      From the beginning, (by which I mean the first 15 minutes) it’s the same tired “murder-fest” where the first victims are dispatched one by one by the masked “mongoloid” but only after they conveniently set up the story by telling us the events of the first movie (as if we didn’t know) only to not follow their own warnings and GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE! The only difference is that after the first massacre (which turns out to be the longest prologue in horror film history) only then do we get the title sequence.
    As we get into the real story we meet Clay Miller, played by Jared Padalecki (“Supernatural” TV series), who is searching for his sister Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti, “Return to House on Haunted Hill”) believed dead. When he happens upon a group of college kids led by the overbearing Trent (Travis Van Winkle) heading to his parents lake house to party, they are all drawn into the plot when Jason begins exacting his mindless slaughter on all of them. Unlike most of the Friday the 13th movies we are given very little into Jason’s story other than basic clues to his origins as the filmmakers made no attempt to improve or add upon his already known past. Like “Part 2” he starts out very plain as just a silent, mindless killer with a burlap bag over his head. He does don his trademark hockey mask, as in “Part 3” (1982) but only by accident.
    There is almost nothing to set this movie apart from the other 10 movies as it keeps the same predictable, formulaic story fraught with merciless ultra-violence, sex, and death. Without spoiling the ending Jason is dispatched in almost the same way as any of the other Friday’s, you know he can never be stopped and he will always come back, there is almost no end to the pointless killing, I had high hopes for this movie but despite the hype and the new talent this is just another bland slasher flick, good for a cheap scare and a little thrill but nothing more. Hopefully, as the new decade is upon us and the new era of horror film remakes we may see some of our old favorites reborn with new twists on an old scare. With new hype for movies such as Rob Zombie’s “H2: Halloween 2” later this year and the remake of “Hellraiser” in 2011, there is even rumors of a new “Nightmare on Elm Street”. But of course as we all know Jason Voorhees will not rest at the bottom of Crystal Lake forever, it’s only a matter of time before he rears up his deformed hockey masked face and wreaks havoc on a new generation of screaming teenagers.