Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th (2009)

Affectionate to a fault, Jason Voorhees will go through plate glass for a hug.

(New Line) Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears, Jonathan Sadowski, Julianna Guill, Arlen Escarpeta, Richard Burgi. Directed by Marcus Nispel

There is a Chinese proverb that if you wait by the river long enough, you will live to see your enemies float by you. That may or may not be true, but one thing I can guarantee you: a classic horror film character will float by first.

The picturesque community of Crystal Lake is rocked with the scandal of one of their own, Mrs. Voorhees, going ballistic and chopping up camp counselors at the local summer camp, Camp Crystal Lake, whom she held responsible for the drowning death of her son, Jason (Mears). She got hers when the sole surviving teenager decapitated her, although unbeknownst to her in full view of Jason himself who had somehow risen from the dead.

Years later a group of teenagers go camping and, as teenagers will do, drink, do recreation drugs and fornicate, not necessarily in that order of importance but pretty close to it. They are stalked one at a time by a mysterious, hulking figure in a burlap sack mask that carries a machete and knows how to use it, and use it he does until there is only one girl left, Whitney (Righetti) and he pounces on her like a kitten on a squeaky toy.

Six weeks later, another group of teenagers is headed to the same area; the lake house of the snooty jerkwad Trent (van Winkle). Included in his little group of party people are Chewie (Yoo), the token stoner, or would be if it wasn’t for Lawrence (Escarpeta) who is the other token stoner and not coincidentally, the token African-American as Chewie is the token Asian-American. Wow, the only two minorities in the movie are both weed users. Who’da thought?

Anyway into the mix comes Clay (Padalecki), Whitney’s brother and even though they weren’t much on speaking terms he’d come all the way to Crystal Lake to look for her, even though the cops have essentially written off the cake, in the person of Sherriff Bracke (Burgi). He and Trent butt heads (mainly because Trent is such a Butthead) and Trent’s adorable girlfriend Jenna (Panabaker) go off to hand out some more flyers and look for Whitney in the ruins of good ole Camp Crystal Lake. Of course, they find a lot more than they bargained for.

There really isn’t much plot here, as you’d expect. This is most certainly a Friday the 13th movie, a proud addition to the franchise. It has everything the original series had; impaling, decapitations, electrocutions, drownings and lots and LOTS of nubile, bare breasts.

It’s everything that was good and bad about the original series. Jason is virtually unkillable, sets some nasty traps and kills his victims in inventive but gruesome ways. It also has all the stereotyping and misogyny that was the hallmark of the original series here. All the women in the remake are either sluts or bitches or both. There is no in-between and that’s probably how a lot of the young male target audience probably views the female sex in general. The two nice girls are either mistaken for mommy or wind up kicking Jason’s ass. Hardcore feminists, be warned.

For the record, I think you have to take all of that with a grain of salt. These are not movies that are meant to be cultural barometers, nor are they meant to be taken all that seriously. It’s a means to blow off some steam, watch some attractive young people get sliced, diced, roasted or stabbed. It doesn’t even matter that much how good the acting is, although Padalecki, of TV’s “Supernatural” and Panabaker make due. Note to those who are attracted to such things – Julianna Guill is smokin’ hot.

Director Nispel, who also re-started the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise for the same producers (which includes Transformers director Michael Bay) is becoming something of an expert on re-imagining horror franchise of the 1980s (I can only guess what he’d do with Hellraiser) and he is on his way to becoming one of the better horror directors of this era.

It comes down to what your personal tastes are. If you really loved the Friday the 13th series in all its bloody glory, you’ll be in hog heaven with the new one. If you despised it, you’d do best to ignore this one altogether. If your opinion was somewhere in between, this is a competently done horror movie with an excess of blood and boobs. If that’s your thing, you’ve found a winner.

WHY RENT THIS: A definite return to the type of horror film we all know and loved from the 1980s.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The things that we didn’t love in horror films of the ‘80s are all still here.

FAMILY VALUES: Much graphic gore and violence, more bare breasts than you can shake a stick at and plenty of foul language. Perfect for pre-schoolers….NOT!!!!!

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The character of Sheriff Bracke was named for Peter Bracke, author of Crystal Lake Memories, a reference book on the Friday the 13th series.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: The Blu-Ray edition has a featurette on the setting up of the seven most horrific murders of the movie. It gives you a good idea of how the make-up, special effects and props departments work together with the actor to make these scenes happen.

FINAL RATING: 4/10

TOMORROW: Burn After Reading

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