Back in 2003, Marcus Nispel made his feature film debut with the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie was a success, debatable of course. He then went on to Pathfinder, which was bad, to be kind. It seems that this German born director of music videos (George Michael, Billy Joel, Janet Jackson, Faith No More) has found his theatrical niche. He found that by helming his second remake of a slasher classic. You guessed it, he is in the chair for this redux, which I also find to be a successful new take on a horror icon. It is definitely a flawed movie, but it does a lot more right than it gets wrong in providing a fun, bloody time.
The Blu-ray includes both the theatrical release and a new so-called "Killer Cut" that runs approximately nine minutes longer. This longer cut is the default version, so when you pop the disk in and it begins to play, do not fret if you see some different things than you remember. The theatrical version can be selected through the Special Features menu. Being the first time I have watched the film since the theatrical release, I would be hard pressed to tell you where all of the new footage is. However, I did notice a couple of changes, when Jason sharpens his machete he has flashbacks to the death of his mother and he gets a little upset, throwing stuff around the room, the other being Whitney's escape and subsequent recapture is in there. I liked both of these elements. I felt they added a little more character in a film that was somewhat lacking.
The film itself is not a straight up remake of the original film, and that is clearly understandable. Why? Well, the franchise has become defined by Jason Voorhees and the hockey mask and, as we all know, Jason was not the killer in that first movie, it was his mother. How could they relaunch an icon when the icon doesn't even bother to show up? For that matter they couldn't even do a straight up remake of the sequel. While it does feature Jason hacking up kids, it does not have the hockey mask. Considering how closely Jason and the mask have become identified, it is easy to forget that it did not appear until the third movie. So, for this remake, writers Damien Shannon, Mark Swift and Mark Wheaton have crafted a story that involves elements of the first four movies.
Friday the 13th opens in 1980, where it is raining at Camp Crystal Lake and we see a woman terrorizing a young counselor. It does not end pretty. In the bushes is a young deformed child watching the brutal events unfold before him. These opening minutes are a Cliff's Notes version of the first film, and proves to be an effective sequence that plays during the opening credits.
From there, we move into a similar treatment of Friday the 13th Part 2. The centerpiece here is the return of the Jason myth as a campfire story. This helps bring back the original fears of Jason and the tradition of telling scary movies around the campfire. This also brings in some elements of Part III. This ends with the title card coming up on the screen, now the real story can begin.
This is also where the movie takes a bit of a turn and becomes The Real World: Crystal Lake. This is also my least favorite part of the film. The characters are unlikable, the dialogue is corny, and the focus on drinking and drugs is a bit much. I expected them to be here, but the focus just seemed to be a little unnecessary. Fortunately, Jason shows up again before long.