Friday the 13th (2009) Review
Much like Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees has become pretty lame over the years. I mean he went from going to hell, to going to space, and then fighting Freddy in a really lame monster battle. The idea of rebooting the Friday series and starting anew was really the only option left. Friday the 13th is pretty damn successful at bringing Jason back and making him a very menacing maniac again.
The story starts by flashing back to Jason’s mother killing off all the camp counselors at camp Crystal Lake. She dies in exactly the same manner as she did in the original 1980 version. We’re then transported to the present with a group of campers in the woods near the remains of the camp. The characters aren’t that important really but we have 2 couples and a 5th wheel who rocks out to Sister Christian. One of the campers regales the others with the story of Jason and his insane mother. This is all the background we’re given and all we need. Now let’s get on with the killing!
This time around Jason has become more of a Libertarian for our modern times. No longer is he killing people for having sex. Hell, he watches one couple have sex and lets them finish and get dressed before dispatching them. No now he’s killing people who try to take his stash. That’s right, Jason now grows weed and just wants to be left alone. The first group of campers are dispatched quickly, 2 of them while trying to take Jason’s crops, with a final survivor (Amanda Righetti) being spared due to her resemblance to Jason’s mother.
The story then jumps ahead 6 weeks with another group of kids on their way to the asshole rich prick’s cabin, Trent (Played perfectly by Travis Van Winkle). Trent is the best movie asshole I’ve seen in a horror film in years. This guy is the biggest prick but his character never gets so out of hand that he becomes a caricature. Joining Trent are his girlfriend Jenna, super slut Bree, and the 2 characters that seem to be the token minorities, Chewie and Wade. Chewie actually ends up being one of my favorite characters since he gets some of the best lines in the film.
Not surprisingly the cabin is near Crystal Lake. Clay, played by Jared Padelecki, meets the kids while searching for his sister who disappeared in the first group of campers at the start of the film. Clay doesn’t hit it off with Trent but Jenna feels sorry for him and helps Clay look for his sister.
All of the people who live in Crystal Lake, including the sheriff, know exactly what happened to Clay’s sister and who did it. He’s warned repeatedly to just leave town and forget it but of course this only strengthens his desire to get to the bottom of what happened. Clay and Jenna eventually stumble upon the camp and Jason himself.
If you are a fan of the early Friday films then you’re going to love this take on Jason. If you are a zombie Jason fan then you may not. Jason runs in this movie, he hunts people down like an animal and even uses one victim’s cries for help as bait. He’s cunning, frightening and vicious. He’s made a home of living in underground tunnels beneath the camp that allow him to hide and attack with surprise. He does this very well throughout the movie. His kills are pretty creative but his favorite still seems to be the machete. For the first time in quite some time Jason is scary again and believable. Derek Mears brings an animal-like behavior to his take on Jason and he’s fantastic. If I have a complaint its that his outfit isn’t that great. He wears a dusty old coat and pants that seem to taper at the bottom making his legs look too skinny.
Jason sports both his sack mask from Friday 2 and the iconic hockey mask. I seem to remember the producers bragging about how the origin of the hockey mask would have more significance this time but that was a lie. Jason just finds it after killing another victim. That’s it. I think Friday the 13th 3 did a better job of explaining the mask.
This movie seems to fit nicely as part 2 or 3 of the original films and is much more true to the original version of Jason then the later versions. Writers Damion Shannon and Mark Swift have redeemed themselves after the abysmal Freddy Vs. Jason and director Marus Nispel makes Jason look better that he has in a long time. Nispel directed the, better that it should have been, Texas Chainsaw Remake a few years back. While this movie seems to have the slickness of Chainsaw it has a decidedly different feel to it. It’s earthier and not nearly as grimy as Chainsaw. It’s not flashy but it looks good and gets the job done.
This film certainly isn’t Shakespeare but then when has Jason ever been about more than the kills and tits? I did enjoy this movie quite a bit and its definitely the best Friday I’ve seen since Friday 4 or 6. However, there are some problems with the film, such as the idea that Jason keeps Whitney, Clay’s sister, alive and chained up in his hideout for 6 weeks! She seems rather sane for all that time and Jason seems to pay little attention to her. It might have been more interesting if they fleshed this out more and had Jason bring her back decapitated heads or something. There doesn’t seem to be any reason for his keeping her other than the resemblance and it really isn’t enough for it to make sense.
The characters also display a big gap in their logic, not really anything new in a Friday movie, but there are definitely some strange problems. For example Trent, who seems to be Jenna’s Boyfriend, allows her to go off with Clay and never seems to mention it or wonder where she is. Then he has sex with another girl at the cabin. Jenna returns and finds them both in the room together but she never reacts to it in a way you’d expect. She doesn’t seem to care at all really.
Even with these problems the movie still is very entertaining and for most Friday fans these issues won’t even be a concern. The characters are still far above the average for a Friday movie anyway.
Friday the 13th opened to the largest audience ever for a slasher movie so theirs already plans in motion for a second outing. This one has a very “Friday” ending leaving it wide open for Jason’s Return.
4 out of 5 Bloody Axes