You already know if you want to see “Friday the 13th” or not. If you can hum or pant the iconic score, you might very well enjoy the movie. But if it takes more than blood, tits and hockey masks to get you going, you’re likely to be extremely bored. Personally, I almost fell asleep.
For the three or so people who have never encountered one of the previous 11 entries into the “Friday the 13th” series, let me summarize: A young mongoloid boy drowns at Camp Crystal Lake in the late ’60s while the camp counselors are busy having sex. Twenty years later, the deformed boy’s mother resurfaces and kills a bunch of pot-smoking, sex-loving teenagers at that same camp. Then, after she too is dispatched, Jason Voorhees returns from the grave to avenge his mother… who was avenging him. Kids keep coming into the woods, and anyone who doesn’t follow some bullshit Ronald Reagan-esque code of morality is brutally killed. Wash, rinse and repeat.
It’s kind of neat that this is not merely a sequel, a remake or a reboot. Instead, it is a mash-up. A sort of fan edit, if you will, of the first four entries in the series, cut together and refigured as one film. The first 90 seconds of the film is a remake of part one, where Jason’s mother was the killer. The next 15 minutes represent a loose remake of part two, where Jason dispatches teens with a burlap sack over his head. The rest of the movie is simultaneously a remake of parts three and four.
Unfortunately, it’s also about as much fun as watching four “Friday the 13th” movies in a row.
Director Marcus Nispel shoots the film as if he is still on the set of his “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” redux. Everything is a deep-fried southern stereotype (despite the fact that no two actors could agree on an accent). It’s almost like the film could have been the creation of some alternate, reality-retarded version of William Faulkner. Sadly, absent from Nispel’s bag of tricks are the inventive camera angles and vicious black humor of the former film.
It doesn’t help matters that this “Friday the 13th” is a dreadfully serious film. Screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift return from the deliriously fun “Freddy vs. Jason” and bring with them their tin ear for dialogue and wooden characterization. Unfortunately, they left their sense of fun at home. For some reason, the filmmakers decided that Jason would become scary for modern audiences if he stopped being a zombie. But he isn’t. Nothing about Jason is scary, and nothing about the cheap, obvious jump scares in this movie is effective.
In fact, the only thing likely to get the audience’s heart pumping in this film is the plethora of beautiful naked girls. Not only are they gorgeous, they also act as time markers. Every 20 minutes or so, you see a pair of breasts and know you’re that much closer to going home. If you own a book by Judith Butler, prepare to be repulsed. If you’ve ever bought a copy of Hustler Magazine, prepare to get your money’s worth.
The “Friday the 13th” brand has endured for 29 years not because of its brilliant storytelling or wildly interesting characters, but rather because of its unfailing consistency. Yes, Jason is dumb. Yes, the doomed teenagers are racist, underwritten caricatures. Yes, the plots (if you can even call them that) are paper thin to nonexistent, but the Voorhees name has always meant that an audience would see about a dozen really bizarre ways for people to die. And for some, that is enough. Annoyingly, this newest entry cannot even boast this much.
There is really one only notable kill scene in the entire film. In it, Jason melts a young nubile over a fire and tricks her young beau into stepping into a bear trap while trying to save her. It’s all very grisly and pretty entertaining; unfortunately, it is also totally outside of the (ever-so-slight) character of Jason.
For some reason, the filmmakers decided to overhaul the Jason persona. No longer is he a supernatural beast with no mind, no motive and no weakness. Now he is a survivalist who plants traps and digs miles of underground tunnels and smokes pot.
Yeah, that’s right. The film implies that Jason grows pot. It seems like he has a pretty big field out there. I wish the movie had contained a scene where he haggles over the price of an eighth.
Oh well, maybe in the (inevitable) sequel.