Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday the 13th

This past weekend was Valentine’s Day. That wasn’t until Saturday. I have nothing to celebrate for Valentine’s Day, but I’m not the type to sit around and mope about being single, or have an “F Valentine’s Day Party.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, any excuse to have a party is okay by me. This weekend for me was Friday the 13th weekend. There are actually three this year (the most there can be in a calendar year), but this one was extra special because it brought us the remake of the deranged mother of modern slasher films: Friday the 13th. I wasn’t even given any pity Valentines this year. On Facebook, I received a Victims of Jason Voorhees gift.

Unlike the original Friday, Jason is the silent stalker in this film, not his vengeful mommy. Her part of the story is covered during the credits as she faces off with the only survivor from the first massacre. Inexplicably back from the dead, Jason witnesses Pamela Voorhees get decapitated. Even though out of the 11 films in the series (including the Freddy crossover) Mrs. Voorhees only appears in the original, the character deserves a little more attention. Jason has constantly been tricked and influenced by imitations or mentions of his mother. The heroine of Friday the 13th Part II wore her years-old blood stained sweater to convince Jason to stop. Freddy used her to essentially reduce Jason to the scared 10 year old boy he really is. Even in the remake, one of the characters looks like Jason’s mom and it may save her life. Given this acknowledgment, and the fact that the hundreds of people Jason has killed or will kill are all for his mother, she should have been given a prologue, not clips during the credits.

For the most part, this is a remake of the original four Fridays, ending with "The Final Chapter." Part I is covered during the credits, and II, III, and IV (which in the original series supposedly took place over one weekend) cover the rest of the film. Plotlines and references from these films do make it into the remake, which made this horror junky happy. Jason wears the white hood for his first attacks, until he finds his iconic hockey mask in a barn. Jared Padelecki plays Clay, who is looking for his missing sister Whitney, just as Rob was in "The Final Chapter." At least in this film the plot makes more sense, as Whitney has been missing for a month, not two days. Of course, there are teenagers camping and on the quest for sex in-tents sex (see what I did there?) and wild marijuana, and another group of teens in a beautiful lake house. No tents for them. And they already have the weed. The good thing about this is, the body count is high at 13.

There are promising elements in this remake. Some of the first deaths involve a bear trap and a girl stuck inside a sleeping bag, which Jason has hung from a tree over a campfire. I thought, and possibly whispered, “This Jason is sick!” It makes sense that a deranged, deformed, reanimated orphan who lives alone in the woods would make intricate traps and long, painful deaths for his victims. We also see Jason’s underground lair, where he stockpiles random items (being a packrat is his first hobby before murder), and even has a bell connected to trip wires so he knows when someone is on his turf. His lair could have been much scarier, and it would have been interesting to see a few shots of Jason spending time in there.

The rest of the film has a few funny moments and does build up the suspense more than the older movies. The big item in the minus column is that the deaths themselves are pretty standard- ax to the back, arrow through the head (and there is a bug zapper that could have played in so nicely and is left unused). Of course, a few people are dispatched with the machete, but that’s a classic and you can’t take that away from Jason. Even if you did, he would get it back and lop your head off. The new Jason of the first few minutes- twisted, vengeful, clever- spends the middle of the film boring the audience to death until the final showdown. The showdown is not the greatest fight for our favorite pissed off goalie, or the beautiful teenagers we’ve grown to hope don’t get murdered, but it does keep you guessing what’s going to happen. One character I thought would make it to the end bites it with 10 minutes to go, so I award bonus points for shock value. I don’t think I am ruining anything when I say it has the standard could-have-a-sequel horror movie ending. With Jason, who has been burned, hanged, buried, hacked with a machete, drowned, cryogenically frozen, blown into hundreds of flesh bits, and impersonated by an angry local, there could always be a sequel. Overall, it doesn’t reinvent, explain, or improve much so it is just unnecessary. For the die-hard horror fans, I would say go see this because it is still entertaining.

Rating: 5 out 0f 7

1 comment:

Liz said...

Great review; I was wondering whether it was worthy of my Netflix queue.

"This Jason is sick!"