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Movie Review: Friday The 13th (2009)

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I don’t have a problem with Hollywood rehashing its own catalog. I just wish that whatever they remade, no matter what the film’s overall place in film history, that they would just make it good. Seeing Michael Bay’s name in the credits of this remake of the 1980 film that started the Friday The 13th franchise already determined for me what this film would be like.

Then again, were Friday The 13th and its sequels ever really all that good to begin with?

The plot of every film, from the first on down through the franchise, is pretty much the same. A masked killer with territorial issues kills whoever enters his domain. Sometimes when he’s really mad, he ventures beyond his lair to kill even more. This masked killer’s legend is so great that it inspires wannabes and a good campfire tale now and then.

There are a few departures from the original material in this remake. These changes, while they might have looked good on paper to the production team, look silly on film.

Before we even get to the opening credits, we are treated to an out-of-place pre-credits sequence involving a camp counselor running away from Jason’s mother, Pamela Voorhees. Mrs. Voorhees sets the reasoning down which really hasn’t changed from the original: Jason died at the careless hands of the counselors of Camp Crystal Lake. Mrs. Voorhees, being peeved, goes and kills all of the counselors but one, who then chops Mrs. Voorhees' head off.

You aren’t really given the name of the person who chopped her head off. This is kind of bizarre to me. If you were to witness the death of your own mother, why would you just stand there? This is an issue that was addressed in 1981’s Friday The 13th Part 2. Alice (Adrienne King), who killed Pamela Voorhees in the original 1980 film, was found by Jason and killed.

Jason wasn't introduced until Friday The 13th Part 2. You could say this is a remake of both the 1980 film and the 1981 sequel with scenes from the 1980 film remade into a small segment at the beginning of the 2009 remake. The rest of the film is a remake of the 1981 sequel, although it doesn't contain the same plot as the original sequel.

Confused? So am I. Let's move on.

I recognize it took a whole other film to resolve what happened, but at least it was resolved!

Here’s another kicker for you that even bothered me in the original films.

Jason Voorhees changed in the course of the sequels. He went from a man bent on revenge against the people who killed his mother to a man who wears a hockey mask while he hangs out at Camp Crystal Lake to kill people who are passing by. Since he himself was neglected and left to drown as a child, why not simply drown one of the counselors' children instead?

Putting a child in the mix of the plot would mean Jason would have a small, but just as devastating, payback to the world that mistreated him. Simply killing any wanderer or counselor just because they were near the camp can be redundant unless the kills themselves were interesting. Given that the latter idea was chosen, to simply kill rather than think, the attraction in the sequels would be in how Jason would kill his victims. I mean, that’s why most of us watched the sequels anyway.

The remake doesn’t have such interesting kills. Subtracting the out-of-this-world style killing makes Jason Voorhees and his whole aura seem pretty average. As stupid as it was to see him pop up out of nowhere to kill people, it was a nice little suspenseful trick. The people behind the scenes of this remake don’t even seem to care that much to think of things like that.

Cinematographer Daniel Pearl should have whispered to director Marcus Nispel that the supposedly “creepy” night scenes were too dark. I’m not talking about the violence; I’m talking about the way it was shot. I didn’t even recognize Jason half the time. He seemed to be a big walking glob of shadow until he changed from wearing a bag to wearing a hockey mask.

Speaking of the mask, this is another gripe.

In the tradition of remakes adding stupid instead of smart to an original story, why on earth does Jason’s mask look dirty? I guess it has to be given that psycho killers couldn’t possibly know how to wash themselves or their killing-wear. In the remake of the original Halloween, they seem to make every effort in making Michael’s mask dirty, but it was almost as if it didn’t fit his face.

I would discuss the acting, but there really isn’t much acting required for this kind of film. It’s nice to see a Winchester brother (Jared Padalecki) playing a hero in the film. Supernatural fans probably wished his co-star on the CW series, Jensen “Dean Winchester” Ackles, was included in this film as well. Sadly that couldn’t happen as Ackles was too busy being in another horrible remake of another horror movie, My Bloody Valentine.

Strange how both movies have masked killers.

With all of the money being poured into remakes, this one should have been a shoo-in. Considering the previous films in the franchise were merely just excuses to hack and slash, there was ample opportunity to put more mystery in the mix. Making Jason’s death a kickstart to a mystery about who left him to drown would have been a great move for the production team to explore. Sticking to the same old, same old isn’t going to work for Friday The 13th in the future.

I suspect Michael Bay’s idea of change will be including Leatherface in the new remade universe of FT13 and having him battle Jason should he run out of ideas.

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