Movie Review: Friday the 13th
By Matthew Huntley
February 20, 2009
Friday the 13th is unimaginably bad - an utter waste of time, energy and resources. With the countless sequels from the 1980s and 90s, and all the way up through Freddy vs. Jason (2003), the filmmakers have learned nothing about what it takes to make good horror. I walked away from this movie insulted and flabbergasted - how could anybody conjure up the gall to make it? What do you even call it? Is it a sequel? A remake? An update? Regardless of its label, it deserves no paying audience.
There is really no plot to speak of here. The movie opens in 1980 at Camp Crystal Lake, where we get a lame recap of the events that started the Friday the 13th saga. A fearful camp counselor runs for her life from the psychotic Mrs. Voorhees, who went on a killing spree after her son, Jason, drowned in the counselors' care. The scared counselor decapitates Mrs. Voorhees with a machete and flees, after which the spirit of the old lady tells Jason, who never actually drowned, to "kill for mama." Thus begins Jason's insatiable need to kill anyone in sight.
Flash forward to "present day," where yet another group of stupid, horny young people are hiking through Camp Crystal Lake on a quest to find marijuana (once again, the filmmakers don't think highly of modern American teenagers). Among the group is Whitney (Amanda Ringhetti), who, whaddya know, bears a striking resemblance to Jason's mother. As you might have guessed, you-know-who shows up and starts offing everybody one by one with his trusty old machete, among other devices. It seems the slightest ounce of human pleasure ticks this guy off, whether it's sex, drugs or just plain human curiosity. He just wants you dead.
A month later, Whitney's older brother, Clay (Jared Padalecki), goes searching for her and meets a group of college kids spending the weekend near Crystal Lake. This group is not much different from the first, only it's more diversified, complete with a token black guy, an Asian, a dumb blonde, a Daddy's boy, and a compassionate redhead who will likely survive the impending bloodbath. Of course, the only thing any one of them cares about is getting high, drunk or laid. For the filmmakers, the characters are merely props so Jason can kill them.
I'm sure some people are going to tell me I should lighten up and that the whole point of a movie like this is for people to die in gruesome ways. That's the "fun" of it all. If that's the case, why not just rent the equally bad sequels from the 1980s and 90s? Aside from a few updated communication devices and SUV models, this latest Friday the 13th is no different from its predecessors. Even if watching people die is the "point," it's still a bad one. This type of killing is not entertaining, inventive, funny or exciting. It's rehashed and painstakingly boring.
At least the movie could have showed us fresh, innovative ways of having its characters meet their untimely dooms. But no, we see at least three people get whacked in the head with a machete (and each time the director seems to assume we're surprised by this), and if it's not a machete, it's a screwdriver, an axe, a bear trap, or a coat rack (I can think of at least two other movies where a coat rack caused someone's death). Scenes like these are so 20 years ago, and even then, they weren't that effective.
Also, could the movie have more intolerable characters? They're disgusting, immoral, selfish and all around annoying creatures. I wanted them to die just so they would get off the screen - it's just a shame the movie didn't capitalize on my wish in more creative ways.
Bottom line: this is all recycled garbage from another era. I imagine the filmmakers merely dug up old copies of the movies made 20 years ago, re-shot the scenes and...voila! There is absolutely nothing affecting about this movie - nothing funny, clever, original or scary. It angers me to think some people will watch it and think it's exactly what they want to see, that it triggers some sort of nostalgia. You want an idea for a scary movie? How about a group of horny young people go see Friday the 13th and actually enjoy it. Yikes!