Contributor: Rick McGimpsey
Well today is Halloween and it is time to review the twelfth and final movie in the Friday the 13th series.
To be honest I have mixed feelings toward the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th. On one hand it is the most competently made and purest Jason movie since the mid-eighties. But, on the other hand this movie makes a lot of unnecessary and idiotic choices that bring what could have been an excellent remake down several notches.
What the movie gets right it does very well. But some of the dumb things have a bad habit of lingering in my memory more than the good things and that leaves my attitude toward the movie less than positive.
The main character is a guy named Clay who is searching for his sister, Whitney, who is missing. A girl named Jenna decides to help him out, but her douchebag boyfriend, Trent, feels insecure and threatened by Clay and insults him at every turn even though the man is obviously just looking for his sister whom he is concerned about. Trent gets his revenge on Jenna by immediately cheating on her after she leaves with Clay.
This is a common trope of modern slasher movies that I really never cared for which is filling the movie with implausibly dickheaded characters that only exist so you can root for the killer to get rid of them. They are manufactured targets that the writers conceive as stereotypical bullies and assholes that become instant fodder for the slasher in the movie. Problem is I have met very few people like these characters in real life and yet these movies seem to want to tell us that they are everywhere and hard to miss. I have met plenty of assholes before, but rarely to the extreme degree these movies take them. It just makes the movie torturous to sit through every time these pricks are onscreen.
One interesting tidbit, however, is that Trent in this movie is played by Travis Van Winkle who was also in Michael Bay’s Transformers movies playing a similarly douchey character whose name is also Trent. Top that off with the fact that this remake was produced by Bay and it makes you wonder if this is the same character and somehow the Transformers movie universe includes the Friday the 13th remake universe as well. This would indicate that it is this remake which tells us the ultimate fate of Trent when he gets killed by Jason. I highly doubt this is a coincidence and this is just another thing I can add to the list of things I dislike about this movie. I don’t want to think that a few thousand miles away from Crystal Lake giant robots are fighting it out. That would be liking finding out that Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru takes place in the same universe as Ponyo.
Some other odd choices are featured in this film that make me scratch my head even more. For example the movie’s pre-title credit sequence is nearly 20 minutes long. Before the title we see a brief scene in which Pamela Voorhees is killed before fast-fowarding years later in which we see a bunch of horny and drunk campers get killed by Jason wearing a burlap sack. Later on in the movie Jason gets his iconic hockey mask in a garage which all in all makes this movie an odd combination of the first three original entries in the series in which the first two form a 20 minute backstory. Unfortunately this doesn’t really work in the movie’s favour and a lot of those first few scenes are not even needed to comprehend the plot. It just makes the movie very jarring when the title you completely forgot was gonna come anyway flashes on the screen.
But, the movie’s worst, stupidest, and most idiotic flaw is none of those things above. The Friday the 13th remake attempts to explain how Jason travels so fast. If you remember in the previous entries Jason was always lumbering and slow and yet always seemed to appear close by when someone tried to escape from him. Now while I admit that that is a bit illogical it was acceptable given the sort of movie we were watching. I really don’t care if the way Jason gets around made no sense. It’s a slasher flick. It doesn’t need to. However, the remake begs to differ. Here we are given an explanation and it is the dumbest thing imaginable. Jason Voorhees gets around by using tunnels. I am not making this shit up. Jason Voorhees stalks his victims by using an underground tunnel system beneath Crystal Lake that he pops up out of. That is so offensively stupid that I am almost ready to forgive Jason for being connected to the Evil Dead movies like in Jason Goes to Hell. Not quite ready, but close.
Eventually Clay does find Whitney and like Ginny from Part 2 she poses as Jason’s mother to distract him before she stabs him with his own machete. Shortly after dumping his body into the lake the movie ends with Jason suddenly jumping out of the water and dragging Whitney under.
All in all I can appreciate what this movie tried to do. It took the purest elements of the Friday the 13th films: the camp setting, Jason in ragged clothes with a machete and hockey mask, some story cues from the first three films, and, of course, the usual dose of sex, drugs, and alcohol; and combined them into a standard Jason flick with a higher budget than normal. Like Parts IV and VI this movie perfectly typifies a Jason movie. The problem is that the few things it tries to do differently to keep the movie fresh are all idiotic choices. The tunnels explanation is retarded, having Trent from Transformers be there is just as bad as having the Necronomicon from Evil Dead in Jason Goes to Hell, and the way the backstory was edited felt jarring and stitched on. Another issue is that this movie actual went overboard with the nudity. I know nudity is a common staple of the series, but this movie overdoes it. The sex dialogue is juvenile and the nudity is so frequent that it breaks the movie’s main plot at times. It feels almost as if this movie was made by a thirteen your old boy who is inexperienced with sex, but is hormonal enough to know how he feels about boobs and how often he wants to see them. In other words, Michael Bay produced this movie. And it really shows.
The things this movie does right we have already seen before in previous entries that were much better, lower budget or not. This unfortunately, with all of its flaws thrown in, makes this movie a merely passably entry that qualifies for a standard Jason flick, but is still pretty skippable.
I hope you all have a Happy Halloween and I will see you all next year when I review the A Nightmare on Elm Street series.