Written by Hombre Divertido
In 1980 when Sean S. Cunningham produced and directed the admitted Halloween rip-off Friday the 13th, he did not expect it to foster 10 sequels and a 2009 remake that hit theaters on February 13th.
For the 2009 film, Mr. Cunningham (executive producer) teamed up with producer Michael Bay; director Marcus Nispel, who helmed Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003); and writers Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, and Mark Wheaton (Shannon and Swift wrote Freddy vs. Jason) to create what is actually more of a new story than a re-telling of the original.
The 2009 version opens with a newly filmed scene, in which the vengeful Mrs. Voorhees (Nana Visitor) is decapitated as she was at the end of the original. This adds little to the film, and appears to be nothing more than justification for the title, as this new outing contains more plot points from the second and third installments then the first.
The first twenty minutes of the film consists of a group of teens going out to Crystal Lake in search of a marijuana field. They unfortunately cross paths with Jason, and all but one of them are killed. The opening credits don’t roll until after Jason is done with this first group. Since the first segment has all the components of the classic slasher film, including sex, drugs, and heads that roll, they certainly could have rolled the closing credits as easily as the opening. Instead, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki who channels a young David Keith in many scenes) comes looking for his missing sister. Clay encounters the local town folk, a new group of teens up for some fun at the lake, and of course, Jason.
Our storytellers have certainly created a new Jason. One that is faster, stronger, more creative (He puts one victim in a sleeping bag and hangs her over the campfire), and cunning. They have also given us more nudity and prolonged sex scenes than in previous Friday the 13th films, and a higher body count, all of which should be music to the ears of true fans of the franchise. Unfortunately, it is the music that really let’s us down. The original film, scored so perfectly by Harry Manfredini, was enhanced by the intense music worthy of classic horror films such as Psycho. Steve Jablonsky adds nothing to the film with his score, and we get little of the classic “Shoo Shoo Shoo Shoo” that let’s us know that Jason is coming.
It is not only the music that is failing here. The writers fail to create the edge-of-the-seat moments so prevalent in previous Friday the 13th endeavors. For the most part, Jason’s kills come too fast and obvious. The audience is also let down by never getting to see anyone killed with the wood chipper that we are shown early in the film.
As in the original, Jason ends up in the lake. He again manages to come up out of the water and attack our heroine. Unfortunately, what was a classic moment in the genre (though a rip-off of Carrie) when done in 1980, gleaned nothing more than snickers from the audience in 2009. The references to the original film that open and close our new version do nothing but weaken the final product.
Recommendation: Friday the 13th continues to be a profitable venture, and this new more energetic and creative Jason could certainly give us plenty of screams in better stories. This particular story fails to provide enough tense moments to be worthy of your ninety-seven minutes. Wait for the DVD.