Reviewed on July 22nd, 2010
By James (administrator) & filed in the Movie Reviews vault
"This is my... BOOMSTICK!"
I have a confession. Some of you wont be happy to hear this and it may make you shun me in the street… I have never seen the original Friday The 13th.
And you know what? I don’t care. I have been unfortunate enough to catch a few of the first 11 (yes, you read that right) and they were the worst kind of excrement imaginable. In fact films like that are what gave the genre such a bad name for two decades. If you need proof go and rent part 10. Or take my advice and don’t.
I was able to watch the recent remake with low expectations and little baggage and I am so glad I had that opportunity. For a film directed by a guy better known for music videos and written by 4 different people somehow this just about comes out on top. Don’t get me wrong, it wont revolutionise the industry or make the world see horror in a new light but in its defense that was never its intent. If you want a few scares, slick production values, likable characters (and ones you love to hate) and lots of teenagers getting inventively butchered then this is right up your alley.
Yet another in the chain of remakes from Platinum Dunes (part owned by Michael “I blow things up” Bay), that seems enough for most people to dismiss it and yet I can’t help myself picking them up off the shelf. All of their films that I have seen I have enjoyed. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was great and at times truly shocking; The Amityville Horror actually scared me; and this left me feeling guiltily satisfied. Except the ending – but we will get to that later.
Headed up by the ever likable, but slightly lightweight, Jared Padalecki we have your typical cast of throwaway teenagers and the only real surprises here are who will make it to the end. Will it be the asshole? Probably not, he deserves it too much and horror films always dish out that kind of justice. What about the goofy, but amiable sidekicks? Doubtful, you always have to have a few characters you like bite the big one so that you root for the hero even more. Perhaps the slutty, bitchy blonde who gets her knockers out? Ha ha yeah right!
So while you aren’t going to be overwhelmed by twists and turns it does allow you to comfortably sit back and know that you are going to get exactly the kind of entertainment you are hoping for. And lots of it!
After an extended intro giving us the back story of tragic, forgotten, mixed-up Jason Voorhees (who keeps his mother’s head in the bathroom – that just isn’t normal. I keep toothpaste in mine which is probably why my teeth are in better condition than hers. Minty Fresh and brilliant white! Mine that is – her’s probably have maggots living in them) and the obligatory slicing n dicing of a gaggle of students to set the tempo for the film, we meet Padalecki’s character, Clay, searching for his missing and presumed dead sister Whitney. Could there be a connection to the opening scenes? Yeah, of course. They aren’t exactly re-inventing the wheel here but I have to commend them on keeping the revelation of her fate secret for so much of the film – you never know whether he is chasing a ghost or whether there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Unlike earlier appearances in fare like House Of Wax, Padalecki assumes the mantle of lead character with convincing ease. It seems like playing second fiddle on Supernatural all these years has honed his skills and in a safe environment like this he is able to provide the backbone the story needs.
The recent glut of remakes seems to consistently get one thing right. The casting of the near-mythical protagonist (even with the latest, albeit underwhelming A Nightmare On Elm Street). I know for some this is heresy but in most cases I feel they have outperformed their predecessors and Derek Mears is no exception to the rule. Threatening, savage, cold and convincing all at the same time (and almost as scary without the makeup!). You could say this is a back to basics Jason; no prosthetic muscles for a start; but in a tweak of the original’s legacy he gets to don the iconic hockey mask from the word go. Most assume he had it from the start but he didn’t actually acquire it until part 3 – prior to that he sported the rather fetching bag-on-the-head look that is sooo in this season, which purists will be pleased to see used in the first part of this outing.
This raises an interesting issue. Most of the originals were dross and most people won’t have seen a single one of them and yet the recognition factor associated with the brand is off the charts. Even if you aren’t familiar with the name Jason Voorhees you sure as hell know what he looks like and that translates into box office credibility and the sound of cash registers ringing. His first cinema outing in ages brought in close to $100 million off the back of a relatively small budget – the simple truth here is that horror makes money when done well. Yes there will always be lazy crap that sneaks through and surprises us and inversely genuinely great films that tank but a recognisable property like this one is able to draw in over double what would be expected of a slasher flick. The film-makers must be so glad the majority of the audience were too young to have seen the steaming dog turds that went before!
Back to the film: Good levels of tension, a few “I didn’t see that coming” moments, spot on special effects and a smattering of crowd pleasing moments should deliver the goods for most. This isn’t psychological horror, it most likely won’t stop you sleeping at night and truthfully you won’t rave incessantly about it to your friends but its a damn good way to kill an hour or two. Right I’m off to hack up some teenagers so all that’s left for me to do is comment on the ending.
It’s pretty true to the original and is one of those throwaway “is the villain dead?” scenes that you always get after the main story has wrapped up – but I didn’t like it. The film didn’t need it and its addition was neither asked for nor plausible and ever so slightly leaves a bad taste in the mouth, which is a shame in what is otherwise a slaughterfest that you could almost imagine happening deep in the woods at the old Summer camp by the lake… if you are about to go camping try and have a good time and make sure your sleeping bag isn’t flammable because you never can tell when someone is going to invite you to a hog roast…
A solid 7 out of 10.
Director: Marcus Nispel
Screenplay: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, Mark Wheaton, Victor Miller
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears
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