FRIDAY THE 13TH

2 Stars
Year Released: 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 100 minutes
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We can brace ourselves for the usual diatribes against Michael Bay (and Platinum Dunes) for his incessant exhumation and cloning of late 20th century horror movies. The “Friday the 13th” reboot is only the latest in a series of such remakes, with a half dozen more in development as we speak. I’d join the chorus of righteously indignant horror fans myself, except – I have to admit – it’s a great business model.

Seriously, it isn’t like modern day audiences are very discerning when it comes to what they’re willing to plop $10 down to see (what’s the domestic gross for “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” again?), so why not exploit the fact that next to no one in the prized 18-34 year-old cohort has seen any late 70s/early 80s horror flicks and just throw new versions out there? Younger crowds, if they remember him at all, recall Jason Voorhees as the guy who fought that other weirdo – Freddy Krueger – back in 2003. For all they care, Michael Myers was invented by Rob Zombie, Sean Bean is The Hitcher, and they’ve never even heard of Chucky. We’ve also got do-overs of “Near Dark” and “The Birds” coming down the pike. The fucking Birds. Now, I’m not saying it’s an ideal state of affairs when the mainstream American horror film industry depends almost exclusively on cannibalizing existing properties (and that’s not even getting into the glut of Asian remakes), but…Jesus, I wish I’d thought of it.

Marcus Nispel is already on the PD payroll, having helmed 2003’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He gets things started off in promising fashion, with five murders taking place before the opening titles even run. From there, however, we settle back into a predictable plot: six or seven college students are spending the weekend in a house on Crystal Lake. The funny thing is: this is really a remake of the second movie, since according to the opening sequence, the first mass murder already took place at the campsite. As in the original, these were committed by Mrs. Voorhees, and Jason has been keeping a low profile ever since (the original climax has been re-filmed for our convenience). He only murders here and there, to keep his hand in, until the arrival of more youthful fornicators.

Credit scribes Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (“Freddy vs. Jason”) for obliging us with a group of young people we mostly can’t wait to see killed. Trent (Travis Van Winkle), whose parents own the house, is a rich prick with an attractive, sensitive girlfriend named Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) who should probably know better. Tensions arise when Clay (Jared Padalecki), a motorcycle riding dreamboat, shows up searching for his lost sister Whitney, who was in the first batch of victims. The group is rounded out by several bimbos, a himbo, and the token minorities (one black, one Asian). The law of averages being what it is, we know all but maybe two of these people are going to be dispatched in a variety of grisly ways.

Less emphasis on the variety, as it turns out. Admittedly, the first set of killings contains a few eye openers, including a variation on the sleeping bag bit from “Part VII: The New Blood.” But this initial promise wears off as Jason eventually resorts to the old stand-bys: machete, arrows, and brute strength.

The question isn’t whether Nispel’s remake is better than the 1980 original (it isn’t) but whether anything original is brought into the mix. And minus a mild plot twist you’ll probably see coming from the first five minutes, there isn’t. While obnoxious, this total lack of creativity wouldn’t generally be a problem except for the fact that Jason has already risen from the dead half a dozen times, demonstrated the ability to jump from body to body, and traveled into space. Just watching him stab somebody in the head again seems…uninspired.



Posted on February 13, 2009 in Reviews by
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