Jared Padalecki - Clay Miller
Danielle Panabaker - Jenna
Amanda Righetti - Whitney Miller
Travis Van Winkle - Trent
Aaron Yoo - Chewie
Derek Mears - Jason Voorhees
Julianna Guill - Bree
Arlen Escarpeta - Lawrence
Ryan Hansen - Nolan
Willa Ford - Chelsea
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 96 Minutes
Score - 1.5 Howls Outta 4
I know a lot of horror fans are still having an uproar with the whole re-imagining of beloved horror flicks and I used to be one of them. But recently, I finally resigned and realized that it is what it is and there's nothing we can do about it. As a horror fan since I've been five-years-old [I turn 28 on the 25th of this month], it hurts me to watch my favorite films get turned into a shadow of their former selves just so teenagers can gush over how cool they are. But as a business standpoint, I totally understand it. Horror films can be cheap to make and create a huge profit for your studio. Believe or not, money does make the world go round.
I think the real issue with remakes [besides being pointless on many levels] is that most of them are horrible. Let's mention the good ones: THE THING (1982), THE FLY (1986), NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990), DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004), THE RING (2002), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (2003), THE AMITYVILLE HORROR (2005), HALLOWEEN (2007 - yes, I still like this film), and recently MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D (2009). I'm sure there are others but the point is that it's easier to list the DECENT horror remakes over the bad ones. That's the problem with this new era of horror.
Now we have FRIDAY THE 13TH, the 2009 version, going on to become the most successful film in the franchise and obviously setting up more installments due to the huge profit both New Line Cinema and Paramount are gonna make out of this remake. While I like this franchise, it was never really my favorite [I prefer the HALLOWEEN and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchises more], but you can't deny how successful, simple, and all around fun the FRIDAY THE 13TH films are. I didn't think the original needed a remake [still don't] but it was inevitable and I would save my thoughts until I saw it. The previews were actually pretty cool and piqued my curiosity more than I had wanted it to. And yes, I paid for a full price ticket for this movie just like a lot of people this past weekend.
Now that I've seen the film, I feel a bit cheated out of my money. When I leave a movie theater feeling LESS than how I came into it, that's not good. Let's see why FRIDAY THE 13TH isn't all that lucky.
PLOTThe film begins with the death of Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor), who is beheaded by a surviving camp counselor after Pamela butchered the rest of her friends [the ending of the original FRIDAY THE 13TH] back in 1980. We cut to present day and we watch a group of idiots camping out at the infamous Camp Crystal Lake, who are pretty much there to find some marijuana to sell for a profit. Like in PART 2, we have someone tell the story of Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears), who is claimed to still be alive, and having watched his mother getting killed, is out for revenge. Jason appears and kills them all but Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who kind of looks like Jason's mom and decides to keep her around a while.
A few weeks pass and some rich prick named Trent (Travis Van Winkle) and his friends vacation at his father's lake house, which just coincidentally happens to be on Camp Crystal Lake. On their way, they meet Whitney's brother Clay (Jared Padalecki), who is posting flyers and asking the townspeople about his missing sister [taken from FRIDAY THE 13TH - THE FINAL CHAPTER]. While Trent is a jerk to Clay about the whole situation, Trent's girlfriend Jenny (Danielle Panabaker) sticks up for Clay and ends up helping him. From here on, Travis and his friends end up partying up with sex, drugs, and naked water-skiing. That is, until Jason decides to crash the party and celebrate his birthday the only way he knows how - by murdering stereotypical teenagers and finding his trademark goalie mask [FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 3-D]. Yep, it's FRIDAY THE 13TH alright.
I wasn't expecting much out of this remake but I'm disappointed it wasn't better. When the trailer for the film is better than the actual film itself, something is definitely wrong. FRIDAY THE 13TH '09 left me numb and cold. How does a horror film leave a person feeling numb?
The story, written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift [who also wrote the light years better FREDDY VS. JASON from 2003], is pretty average as far as I'm concerned. Let me get the good stuff out of the way first:
I like that the screenplay took elements from the first four FRIDAY films and didn't totally do them in a way that they were all that similar to the original source. It made the film familiar to older fans who appreciate this franchise while still bringing something new to them along with the modern audience. The remake never felt like a remake, thank God. Honestly, it felt like an installment of the franchise that was never told until now. In other words, a lost sequel. I was totally cool with that.
I also liked that the script played it like your regular FRIDAY THE 13TH film. We have stupid stereotypical characters who each have their own role to play in the movie before Jason chases them down and murders them one-by-one. That's all I look for in a FRIDAY THE 13TH flick. These films were never known for their character development to begin with - and Shannon and Swift continued the tradition. Much appreciated.
However, I felt the narrative was very disjointed. It felt like three movies in one for me and there were certain plot holes in the film that just made me scratch my head. Plus a lot of the dialogue was pretty bad and just made me roll my eyes most of the time. And what was up with all the pot activity in this film? Drugs are a big part of this franchise but it just seemed like the main focus of these characters most of the time. Look I know Michael Phelps looks cooler with a bong on his mouth, but one or two potheads in a horror flick should be the limit. It became redundant after a while.
The murder scenes written into the film were pretty weak too. I thought the death scenes in the original were more violent than the ones in the remake. And that was 29 years ago! C'mon! Very generic stuff, although I did like some of them. The arrow death is always cool to see, plus I thought Willa Ford's death scene at the pier was pretty awesome just because I didn't expect it to happen like that. And the sleeping bag over the campfire was very nice and probably the most memorable one in the entire film. But it was disappointing to watch and I thought they weren't written well enough in the script.
And I won't even mention the ending. How lame was that? Totally predictable and not even in a good way.
I think the problem with the story was that the filmmakers INTENTIONALLY decided to cut out 25 minutes just to sell an Uncut and Extended Version of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray. Apparently they wanted the viewers to be confused in order to get the answers to their questions when the DVD is released. Nice business movie, but the filmmakers can still go fuck themselves. No wonder the pacing was off. Assholes.
Speaking of the death scenes, where was the gore? Did the MPAA cut some stuff or did the filmmakers do this just for the DVD? I mean, MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D pretty much gave it all to us and I appreciated it. But we just get a lot of stabbings and throats being sliced, which is nothing new. Even Mrs. Voorhee's beheading wasn't even shown in its entirety. It looked like she had her throat slit when she really had her head cut off. It was a bit too tame for a FRIDAY THE 13TH flick, as far as I'm concerned. Very disappointing.
The direction by Marcus Nipsel was bland. It was like watching THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake [which Nipsel directed back in 2003] but with a different cast and Jason replacing Leatherface. What's sad is that the TCM remake is better than this film is. Yeah, the film looks great and beautifully polished with its murky colors. The editing is good and some moments, like the Willa Ford scene where she's stabbed on top of her head and pulled up to reveal her beautiful breasts before dropping into the lake again, were actually well done. But I thought the pacing was off [The title card within 20 minutes of the film? I thought that was the funniest part of the movie!], the tension and suspense weren't effective enough, and the death sequences way too predictable [and repetitive] and almost similar to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE remake. And what was up with that loud music every time Jason would pop up to kill? Very distracting. How about this - why not SURPRISE us when Jason kills someone? Oh right...that might scare alot of people. Too logical, sorry. Nipsel has style and the visuals weren't horrible at all, but he doesn't bother trying to update or reinvent the series. Instead, he just follows and regurgitates what's been done before. The whole point of a remake is to bring something new to the table. In that case, Nipsel fails completely.
The acting won't win awards but I didn't hate anybody's performances. Jared Padalecki had the strongest performance as Clay. Didn't know much about the character but I liked Padalecki alot. He made a good male lead and was definitely the bright spot acting-wise. Amanda Righetti and Danielle Panabaker were both hot and did nicely as the female leads. Travis Van Winkle played a good asshole character in Trent. I hated that character for the right reasons. Winkle did a good job. Aaron Yoo was funny as Chewie. He was the only character who got a reaction from the sold out audience I was sitting with. Pretty funny role and I could tell he improvised a lot of his stuff. Willa Ford had nice boobs. Thanks. And Derek Mears was decent as Jason Voorhees. I still prefer Kane Hodder, to be honest, but Mears wasn't so bad. I just didn't feel threatened by the guy though. But it was nice to see pre-Zombie Jason back on the screen again. I would have preferred unknown actors, like in the original franchise, but what can you do?
And before I finish up this review, where in the fuck was the "Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma" sounds in this film? I heard them like twice in the entire movie! What's a FRIDAY THE 13TH film without that in the background? Nice move, guys.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE SUFFERING FROM A MEDIOCRE CASE OF TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA
- Don't ever listen to Night Ranger's "Sister Christian" while peeing in the woods. You'll wish you were motoring while you'll die to know what's the price for flight by some masked killer with mommy issues.
- Amanda was hung over a campfire while trapped inside a sleeping bag. I know Amanda was hot but that's being a bit too literal, don't you think?
- Chelsea actually placed herself in front of a motorboat, thinking her dead boyfriend would stop for her, causing Chelsea to have a headache from the impact. Do I have to tell you she was blonde? No? Okay then.
- Chelsea got stabbed through the top of her skull while she was hiding from Jason. That's what you get when you wanna be bad.
- Chewie is the Wood Wizard, but not for his masturbation skills. Yeah, because that title is already taken by me! Ha! Oh wait...uh...that's just a rumor! Yeah...
THE FINAL HOWL
FRIDAY THE 13TH '09 just didn't feel like a FRIDAY THE 13TH film for me. Hopefully the DVD Extended Version will be a more complete film and actually be an improvement on the theater version. Let's see if the next installment [and there will be one undoubtedly] will get back to what made these films so fun to watch to begin with. But this version just left me "blah". Color me unimpressed.