If you have some familiarity with this site, then you know I’m a pretty big Friday the 13th fan. I have all eleven movies on dvd, the first two seasons of The Series on my computer, songs on my G1 (“The Man Behind The Mask”), and for the past fifty-two years I’ve dressed as Jason Voorhees. So I might be just a little biased.
The new Friday the 13th starts out in 1980, with the penultimate scene from the original classic: the decapitation of Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor! Kira of DS9 was Pamela Voorhees? I totally did not realize it. Good make-up). (It was fun to see the “reimagined” version of Alice, who apparently survives in this version). Jason (or rather, is arm – young Jason is never shown) grabs the machete and disappears.
Cut to six weeks ago. Five twenty-somethings, most notably including Whitney, played by Amanda Righetti, are camping in the woods near Crystal Lake, apparently to harvest some marijuana that they heard was growing in the woods. Suffice to say, Sackhead Jason (Derek Mears) makes his first appearance, dispatching the horny young people with efficiency. I think I liked the sack from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981). But this sack probably is a little cooler looking (I grudgingly admit).
As the credits finally tell us that we are indeed watching Friday the 13th, we arrive at Friday, February 13. Another group of twenty-somethings is arriving at Crystal Like. At the same time, Whitney’s brother, Clay (Jared Padalecki), is in the area searching for his missing sister. While they’re settling in and developing some character (!), Jason dispatches a local handyman (apparently Jason does NOT like it when you pick his weed). It is from this handyman that Jason gets his signature hockey mask.
The young people party, get naked, smoke weed, and act irresponsibly as Clay and Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) develop a bond and she ditches her asshole boyfriend, Trent (Travis Van Winkle), to help him in his search.
I don’t want to give away EVERYTHING, so I’ll just say that more kids are killed, there’s a nice chase, and there’s a game of cat and mouse played that leads to the apparent death of Jason.
Overall I enjoyed the new Friday the 13th. The characters were fairly well developed (for a slasher flick), the acting wasn’t abysmal, and the kills were inventive (gore hounds might be a little disappointed, though there are some real doozies [I can’t believe I just used the word “doozie”]). The writers wisely kept the backstory in tact, so Jason’s motivation hasn’t changed much. A few things were noticably absent. Camp Crystal Lake is only seen as a rundown husk. There are no counselors (aside from Alice) or kids. So the majority of the action takes place away from Camp Crystal Lake (is it became summer camp movies are SO 80s?). Another thing missing? The music. Henry Manfredini’s score is a classic and really helped the original franchise to rise above the often mediocre material. I know what the producers were going for with a completely different, understated take on the music, but I think, if used judiciously, the original score would have enhanced, and not hurt, this new version.
This movie is supposedly a “reimagining” of the first three entries in the original franchise. I really see it more as a remake of Friday the 13th Part 2, with minor elements of Part 1 (the beheading of Pamela), and Part 3 (the acquisition of the hockey mask). Otherwise, it’s very similar to Part 2 (especially the ending), even though the characters and situations are different.
The director, Marcus Nispel, directed the excellent remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and frankly, that was a much more intense experience. The new Friday the 13th isn’t in that league, but it provides enough thrills, scares, and suspense for me to highly recommend checking it out in the theater.
Friday the 13th Rating Scale: ★★★★
Regular Movie Rating Scale: ★★★