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Friday the 13th (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)

Starring Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Aaron Yoo, Travis Van Winkle, Derek Mears, Julianna Guill, Ben Feldman, Ryan Hansen, Arlen Escarpeta, America Olivo and Willa Ford.

Screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift.

Directed by Marcus Nispel.

Distributed by New Line Cinema.  95 minutes.  Rated R.

There were eleven Friday the 13th movies between 1980 and 2003 – not to mention a syndicated TV series which ran for three seasons and a video game – so I don’t think the world has really been missing hockey-mask wearing maniac Jason Voorhees.

Jason has gone to Manhattan, he has gone to space, he’s gone into Freddy Krueger’s nightmares – so this attempt to reboot a series which never quite had gone away is going back to the basics and returning to Camp Crystal Lake.

The makers of the new Friday the 13th suggest that this is a re-imagining of the first film from 1980 – though technically Jason never appeared in that film.  He was discussed, but he was a red herring.  The murders were actually committed by his mother, Mrs. Voorhees.  In fact her death, which formed the climax of the original film, is quickly dispatched during the opening credits here.  Actually this movie has much more in common with Part II and Part III.

Honestly, Jason was always the least interesting mass-murdering boogie-man of horror – Michael Myers of the Halloween series and Freddie Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street at least started out in good, intriguing films, even though the more they were used, the less thought was put into their adventures.  The Friday the 13th movies were always cheesy exploitation films that had no higher aspirations than violent mayhem and periodic gratuitous nudity.

Therefore, the hope is that the new Friday the 13th would try to treat the return to the genesis of the series as a way to finally show this well-traveled monster a little respect in the horror movie world.

Sadly, no such rethinking seems to have taken place.  This Friday the 13th could have easily been any one of the series’ interchangeable cheesy sequels – with only slightly ramped up sex and… oddly… slightly more-restrained (at least less explicit) violence.

It basically follows the killing formula of the whole series – kids who have sex, who drink or take drugs, who are dorky or are ethnic will eventually be punctured by Jason.  Actually, here, the first person killed was the one guy in the movie who had the least shot at getting laid, so I suppose that is some kind of progress – however he did fit into the dorky demographic.  The good, serious kids – the ones who could get laid if they wanted, but are too busy trying to save everyone – will be the last ones to take Jason on.

You know the basic playbook – a bunch of college-aged types stumble upon Jason’s hunting ground and are stalked and violently murdered through the night.  Still, the kids do lots of stupid things like going into dark places alone, fighting amongst themselves and investigating mysterious sounds.

Friday the 13th actually slaughters two of these groups of dumb students.  The first group of five visit the area because they find out about an illicit marijuana field.  (Who knew Jason had a side-job as a pot dealer?)  They are killed off in an extended (about 25 minute) prologue.

Then, the real victims show up – a group of college kids who go to party at their rich friend’s lake house.  All of the characters are just types – the rich jerk (Travis Van Winkle), the good sweet girl (Danielle Panabaker of Shark), the stoner jock (Ryan Hansen), the two hot girls who will undoubtedly take off their tops before dying (Julianna Guill and former pop star Willa Ford), the token black (Arlen Escarpeta of American Dreams) and the token Asian (Aaron Yoo).

Add to the mix Jared Padalecki of Supernatural and Gilmore Girls as a brother searching for one of the girls who disappeared in the first group.

Line them up and whack them down.

If you have seen any of these films, you have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen.  You can even make a pretty decent educated guess as to the order in which the kids will be killed and probably not be all that far off.  (I only missed on one character – Willa Ford went faster than I figured.)

It is not horribly well-made, but it works well enough on its own modest level.  If you liked the earlier films, you will like this one.  If you never quite understood the appeal of the series, don’t come here looking for the answer.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2009  All rights reserved. Posted: June 13, 2009.

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