In 1978, John Carpenter’s Halloween was released, which jump started a whole new subgenre with horror. That subgenre is of course the slasher, and just 2 years later in 1980, Paramount decided to jump on that bandwagon with Friday the 13th. While Friday the 13th wasn’t met with the amount of critical acclaim Halloween was, it was very popular. It was so popular that it spawned a plethora of sequels…just like Halloween. After a while the sequels started getting pretty dumb, with titles like Jason Takes Manhattan, so the franchise stalled for a number of years. But after some time passed, Paramount and Screen Gems rebooted Jason Voorhees with the 2009 film, Friday the 13th.
The film opens with a black and white sequence of Jason’s mother chasing a camp counselor back in 1980, basically remaking the final scene of the first film. If you don’t know what happens in the end of that film then I won’t spoil it, but after that we cut to a group of college aged young adults hiking through the woods. They’re there to camp (and to find some weed to sell, of course) and they settle in for the night near Camp Crystal Lake. This beginning is actually pretty good, I liked the homage to the original with the black and white sequence and I liked most of the young actors in the first part of the film. The actors in the beginning include: Amanda Righetti (The Mentalist), Jonathan Sadowski (Young and Hungry), Ben Feldman (Superstore), America Olivo, and Nick Mennel. I thought they all did a fine job. The atmosphere is also pretty good with very slick looking surroundings, and of course it’s complete with a dilapidated creepy looking house a couple of them stumble upon.
After about the first 15 minutes or so is when the main plot kicks in. A different group of college aged people are driving up to one of the guy’s lake houses for the weekend. They stop at a gas station and we’re introduced to Jared Padalecki’s character, Clay. Clay is looking for his sister who’s gone missing up near Crystal Lake, and is going around trying to see if there’s anyone who could’ve seen her. The group of friends get to the house and that’s when the typical slasher film shenanigans ensue (bongs, booze, and hardcore sex).
So the main thing I really liked once the main plot kicked in was the main characters and how they were portrayed. I enjoyed the performances from Padalecki and Danielle Panabaker, who end up being the main people we follow. I also liked Travis Van Winkle and Arlen Escarpeta, Winkle plays a rich jerk but he does it well and none of it comes off as too stereotypical. Escarpeta serves as a good source of comedic relief and delivers his lines well. The other supporting actors did not impress me at all, there was a lot of over acting and borderline cringeworthy line delivery.
The script ranges from passable and fine to wildly cringeworthy and at times desperate. The scenes where the writing seriously goes off the rails is mainly when the group of friends are messing around and hanging out. I suppose they tried some attempts at comedy with some select lines, but they fall flat. “It curves left, just like my penis” and “wanna smack that ass again for daddy?” are just a couple examples of the unfunny lines of dialogue used. I used the term desperate before because I can only assume the writers ran out of ideas and just started throwing in random lines involving pussies, tits, and masturbation. To me that spells out laziness or desperation, and trust me I’m no prude. If you wanna have some sexual humor, at least make it funny.
Speaking of sexual stuff, there is an abundance of it to be found here. Danielle Panabaker and Amanda Rhigetthi are the only actresses that’s breasts aren’t shown. Then there’s an extremely graphic prolonged sex scene towards the end of the film, hence the MPAA citing “graphic sexual content” in the reasoning for the R rating. Again I’m no prude, but it just gets old and seems rather sexist too. Does every single girl in the film besides the main ones need to be naked and have their butts focused on? There is not one instance where this happens with a male character. There are no shots of male butts or anything sexual, the most we see is them shirtless a couple times. And during the sex scenes, we just see their faces, but get a real eye full of the female. So all this to say, I’m cool with some sexy fun – they are in their early twenties, after all – but so much of it comes off as cheap and lazy. I think it’s fair to ask why is it just the females that are nude and sexualized.
The violence actually isn’t as graphic as something like the My Bloody Valentine 3D remake from 2009. The kills involve blood and everything but they’re not something that’ll make you sick to your stomach. I don’t see these movies for the kills, but I do sometimes enjoy the build up to them. There are a few select scenes where I liked the tension. I think the visuals and atmosphere contributed a lot to those sequences being entertaining.
Props to director Marcus Nispel (he also helmed the remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Conan The Barbarian) for putting together some really good looking sequences. Yes some of it is kinda cheesy like the thunderstorm that starts towards the climax, but it fits nonetheless. The climax is pretty exciting and I liked the last couple of sequences involving the final few characters. There’s also something that one character does in order to distract Jason that I thought was clever that first occurs in the beginning and comes in handy at the very end. The final scene involves a slasher film trope that’s pretty overused but I guess in a way it’s adrenaline pumping. Except I don’t think those who are familiar with the genre will find this one very scary or exciting because its just so rampant in other films.
So overall this reboot is pretty average. There are things here that work like the main characters, the slick visuals, and a few exciting sequences. But then, there’s the lazy and sometimes desperate script, the poor supporting characters, and the cheap over sexualization of the females which becomes tired and obviously sexist. Oh but just FYI I totally want the lakehouse that the characters stay in. That’s some real estate porn.