Thursday, December 17, 2009

Friday the 13th (2009) review: When being "true to the original" is not a good thing.

Overall verdict: 5.5/10

The Good: Retains everything good thing about the original. Stylish camera-work, action packed chase scenes, a new and improved "Jason Voorhees".

The Bad: retains every BAD thing about the original. Unlikable characters, cheesy dialogue, too much sex, illogical plot holes.

Availability: On discount priced DVD in singapore
DVD features:
- Rebirth of Jason Voorhees "making of" featurette
- deleted scenes

DVD Value for money grade: C

When you get down to the nitty gritty of this movie, the 2009 remake of Friday the 13th specifically caters only to existing fans of the genre. It takes EVERYTHING synonymous with 80s slasher movies and ups the ante on them. A huge pity that "everything" also includes the flaws of such slasher genre films such as annoying teenage characters, too much sex and a less than adequate story.

For starters, those who have watched at least one of the previous 1980s Friday the 13th movies can feel safe in the knowledge that this movie is pretty faithful to the spirit of the Friday the 13th franchise. However, it also means that the story is clich├ęd and stale to the core. Instead of doing something new with the franchise, it falls back on standard slasher movie re-threads. As usual, we follow a bunch of horny/idiotic teenagers who come to the lakeside for whatever silly reason (in this case, it is either to look for Marijuana or to party away from adult supervision), and then get hunted down and picked off one at a time by a crazed serial killer.

The movie jumps straight into the action for the first 20 minutes or so starting with the murder of Jason's mother and then Jason's attack on a bunch of campers many years later which would then lead into the story proper of Clay(played by the star of the "Supernatural" TV series Jared Padalecki) looking for his sister who went missing at camp crystal lake. But other than that, there is hardly anything else of interest to speak of.

If the story is not going to hold an audience, at least the characters should. right? Also no.

All of them are your usual, stereotypical horror movie stock characters who are just there to provide eye candy until they die. Even the character of Clay, who could have been given a more well rounded development, falls flat. Almost all of them are portrayed in such a terrible light that one would actually WANT Jason to kill them off just to prove Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest(or in this case extinction of the silliest). The actors(mostly culled from TV series) seem to do their best, but a mediocre script ruins everything.

Well, at least for a horror film it has to be scary right? wrong! There is not a single scare or even a shock in this entire film! So what silly excuse can anyone give to even waste their time with this movie?
Where Friday the 13th fails to reinvigorate the genre and fails even more as a competent horror movie, it suceeds in its "slasher" aspect coupled with some impressive production values and directing.

For starters, the film looks great, easily the best looking horror movie ever. Slick camera-work, a dark gloomy but crisp lighting style and some creative directing skills bring out the most in every single kill scene. Though the kills are not spectacular in any way, they are quite realistically played out. Every chase scene is a tense nail-biter, every bloody slash, bash and impalement is done with the flair and style of a big budget action flick.

The second "saving grace" of the film is the Jason Voorhees character himself. Face it, Jason in the previous Friday the 13th movies was a goofy looking retard who then became a dim witted, lumbering Zombie freak. THIS new Jason(played by Derek Mears) actually feels more threatening for a change. He plans his kills, he baits his victims into traps, he strikes with uncanny precision; more like a savage commando than a retard.

If anything, Friday the 13th 2009 succeeds at delivering the fundamental desire of any fan of slasher films: watching people you dislike getting dispatched in the most horrific and gruesome ways. It is sheer escapism and it blatantly focuses on that aspect while disregarding all others, for better or for worse.

************Personal rant**********There came a point in the movie when i actually started rooting FOR Jason to make his next kill only because the characters were just THAT unlikable.

I bet the producers were like, "Silly teenager characters with little development? All the more reason to want them to be killed off! Story?? Who needs story?! Just think up some shenanigans for them to go through until the next on gets offed."
*************Personal rant over. Back to review Proper*******************

At its core, Friday the 13th 2009 is no where near the standard of a "good movie". Merely good for 106 minutes of violent escapism. It adheres too much to the blandness of the original films but manages to up-the-ante on the aspects that matter to slasher fans; Better kills, a slick new look, a clear directing style, an improved re-imaging of Jason. Even the disgusting but mandatory sex scene(a staple in all slasher movies) is taken up a notch by having not one but two sex scenes to please the hot blooded male audience. Sadly, Friday the 13th fell back too much on its franchise's staples. It failed to carve a fresh new identity of its own and thus ended up tipping over into mediocrity.

It is violent and fun in a sick escapist sort of way, but fails as a "horror" show due to its lack of scares. Maybe being too faithful to the original wasn't such a good idea afterall.

Entertainment: A
Story: B-
Acting: C-
Characters: D
Replay value: B+
"Brains": D-


  1. I've got a little deranged thought passing by- so don't mind if I get things off my chest. I will try to exclude good remakes out of this post, but if they are accidently incoperated, dun mind me.

    Why are we so obsessed with remaking films from previous successes or franchises these few days? Terminator, Transformer, what have you comic heroes from the 70s. What are we serving up the dinner plate next? Smurfs?

    Yeah right... and The Gods Must Be Crazy I bet....

    Can we stop trying to scrape some cash out of past glories and move on? Friday the 13th would have worked in its era, and so would terminator,but come on... the same formula won't work now. Dracula may have worked his mojo freaking people out back in the 40s, but he'll give me no more than a tummyache and hystericals if he were to be hobbling along baring his fangs at ladies in distress today... (true to the original wad)

    And frankly speaking it kinda gets boring when everybody is throwing in the 'remake to be true to the original' excuse for a movie that cannot justify itself. Change the plot too much and the title 'remake' won't be justified. Don't change anything at all and the methods no longer are justified. Don't expect the dynamics of the show to ever correlate with the replay value- they are mutually exclusive.

    Ya truly want something entertaining that will rake in millions? Go make a porno or some ecchi anime, and don't forget to throw in healthy doses of fanservice along the way. DON'T YOU DARE throw in the title "Ghost in the Shell 3- Corruption" or "Equilibrium 2.71828" and say its a remake of that series....

    Get a job, directors, and get going something original for a change. Every era needs a flagship mascot- something noteworthy, that defines that period of time for what it is. The 90s saw through a lot of original films (I mean films that have their distinct style). So why not leave the old glories alone with their legends and start making a movie for a change?

    We have to admit that there are much more crappy remakes than good remakes. It leaves a very bad aftertaste watching something good gone bad. It spoils the dream of the child, it ruins the collection of the collector, it utterly disappoints the fan- I don't wish to go on the list of negative reactions it will evoke.

    Save our legends, save our childhood, save the movie industry... and for pete's sake, save our brains from the escapism of crappy reality into a world of even crappier remakes.

  2. actually my "replay value" indicator is more for the DVD. Its an indicator of how much this movie is worth owning and watching over and over again.

    To be fair, remakes have had mixed reception, both for remakes that are essentially shot for shot adaptations of the originals and remakes that have changed to much from the original that only the name is the same.

    However, see here the fickle mindedness of the modern day movie viewer.

    You get stuff like Friday the 13th, Texas ChainSaw Massacre and Aliens vs Predator:Requiem being very true to the original, but suffering BECAUSE it is true to the original. Yet we have "The Hills have Eyes"(which i'll review soon) and "The Last House on the Left" and Peter Jackson's King Kong, all just as faithful to the original, but were well recieved. For comics, you have "Superman returns" which preserved the spirt, look and feel of the classic comics and Christopher Reeves movies, but flopped.

    On the opposite end remakes that change too much are also a mixed bag. "The DAy the earth stood still", "Death Race", etc. Changed too much to be considered remakes. On the other hand "Dawn of the Dead" only had its title in common with the original zombie classic but it gained a wide following and mass appeal and singlehandedly cemented the "running raging zombies" into popular culture paving the way for stuff like Left 4 Dead.
    For comics we also have "The Dark Knight" and Batman Begins which are a very far cry from the classic 60s "wham bam pow" Batman. Yet they are extremely well recieved.

    The problem is, the viewers are usually very 50/50 split between wanting a new interpretation and wanting the same old thing redone.

    In dollars and sense, the latter would be less risky since it more or less confirms the patronage of the existing fans.(hence the reason for stuff like Friday the 13th)