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Friday the 13th
Genre Horror
Year: 2009
 
Review:

Friday the 13th is a staple in horror movie history. The slasher film has come a long way and has struggled to break the vicious cycle of blood, boobs and boozing. Jason Voorhees, the masked psychopath is to slasher films what James Bond is to espionage and they both share one irritating trait... they just won't die! Jason has been decapitating teenagers for nearly 3 decades, with 12 movies under his belt. It's got to the point where you're probably wondering who's stupid enough to go camping at Lake Crystal? Well, there's always a bunch of hapless low-life teenagers, comprised of teen sluts, a**holes and junkies that are willing to be sliced and diced. The girls always seem to be slaughtered after revealing their breasts and the Tom Cruise wannabes never get the whole "safety in numbers" vibe. 

In an age when quality remakes are making a comeback: Die Hard, Rocky, Halloweeen, Rambo, Batman, 007... it seems ludicrous to simple churn out an updated version of the original. However, that's where films like Rob Zombie's Halloween and Marcus Nispel's Friday the 13th have buried the hatchet. Halloween gave Michael Myers the Batman Begins treatment, but instead of unveiling the dark anti-hero's inner evil - managed to humanise the villain to the point that you'd want to become pen pals. Nispel's remake of Friday the 13th adds a slick contemporary skin to the old classic and makes Jason more central, more agile and more grotesque - but fails to capture the essence of what made Jason so terrifying.

There's no depth to the character and the production simply relies on more sex, drugs and gore to sell the feature instead of adding more brain fodder. You could argue that this is what '80s slasher movies were all about with Freddy carving up our dreams and Jason doing the good old-fashioned hack job. However, today's audiences want it all... cheap thrills no longer satisfy the average movie goer and it's more about the layers than about the superficial eye candy, which seems to give audiences that glazed look.

The cast includes a number of familiar faces with a background in TV. Jared Padalecki hails from Supernatural (let's not mention that chocolate box Christmas Cottage movie... oops) and fills in as the hero, Clay. Danielle Panabaker is straight from Shark with a brief appearance in Home of the Giants and plays the hero's sidekick, Jenna. Aaron Yoo of Disturbia does a take on Harold from Harold & Kumar with the character of Chewie, while the intimidating presence known as Derek Mears dons the hockey mask as Jason. Other noteworthy performances came from Julianna Guill, Willa Ford and America Olivio's breasts... which all went for natural, yet not-so-natural performances.

Nispel directed Pathfinder, which was another case of unique visual style superseding actual story and content. The problem with Friday the 13th is that there really isn't much behind the mask. Classic slasher horrors developed memorable villains because audiences didn't know enough about them, what made them tick and what made them kill. This uncertainty created fear together with a host of unanswered questions. As Stephen King has suggested, modern over-produced horrors try to tie up every loose end, whereas low budget horror simply can't afford to... creating more uncertainty and developing more fear.

Unfortunately, Friday the 13th falls into this trap... trying to please the audience with excesses and leaving no room for fear. It's a bit of a catch 22, where today's remake calls for more background detail and more background means less fear. The cheap scares are too quick and predictable and if you've seen any slasher, it's just too easy to see how things play out. The redux needed a fresh angle, not a sharper image... and it just comes across as too familiar with a blunt edge. If only they had taken a page from Behind the Mask, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and The Strangers?!

Michael Bay produced this updated version of Friday the 13th, and it just doesn't do itself or the franchise any justice. Freddy vs. Jason was more compelling, more intriguing and less cliched. Bay's involvement just changes the whole production from a resurrection of a classic series to a quick money-spinner for the studios. There's no tension or build up to any of the scares and besides the slick visuals, they have retained the original's guilty pleasure of watching all the idiots getting their just deserts. At the end of the night, you just expect more from this kind of gratuitous hack job.

The bottom line: Unnecessary.

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