Monday, April 1, 2013

Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th was never a franchise that I took too seriously. It’s about a mute zombie hockey mask wearing serial killer who murders anyone that crosses his path, and that’s it. Sure the original had a method to its madness, but the endless sequels were all about the gory death scenes and nothing more. Not that I’m complaining, I enjoy a number of the films in this series (Part II, Jason Lives, The New Blood, Jason X) and the prospect of a decently budgeted remake could be pretty cool if handled right.

But this is Platinum Dunes we’re talking about here. So you know they effed it up at every opportunity. EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

The story is that a group of rich college kids come to Crystal Lake to spend spring break at a summer home smoking weed, drinking heavily and getting laid. Little do they know that a mentally unbalanced mongoloid pot farmer has staked a claim to that land and methodically picks each of them off in increasingly gruesome ways.
You read that right... pot farmer. Yes, the writers decided to give Jason a reason to be in the area, and that reason is that he tends a rather sizable marijuana field. The part that makes me find the whole concept contemptibly funny is that Jason grows the weed in order to draw stupid co-eds onto his land so he can kill them, evident in the overlong opening scene. Epic, epic fail. This is especially frustrating when the writers decided to include the demise of Jason’s mother during the opening credits (the original reason Jason went on his murderous rampage in Part II) and then forgot about it being Jason’s homicidal motivation for the rest of the film.

The other obvious misstep is that these movies featured, at least at first, camp counselors working at Camp Crystal Lake and not a bunch of self centered college students with silver spoons in their mouths. Seeing teenagers attempting to make some summer dollars at a run-down camp made the characters instantly identifiable and relatable since everyone has done something like that in their youth, be it a crappy summer job at a department store, a movie theater, etc. The main players here are all spoiled rich kids that act like assholes and have zero redeeming qualities at all. The sole exception is Jared Padalecki’s Clay who is looking for his missing sister, assumed to be dead after the opening massacre scene. He is at least written with half a brain and a personality, and Padalecki plays him with a sort of macho honesty that made me not hate him on sight like the rest of the characters, Danielle Panabaker’s Jenna included. I know we are supposed to automatically like her character since she seems genuinely interested in helping Clay find his sibling, but to me she came off as someone who is on his side because she’s embarrassed by her boyfriend’s douchey attitude toward his plight and lends an assist only because she has nothing better to do. Not that she actually gives a shit that his sister might have been killed in the woods, but at times it actually felt like she was helping him because she thought he was hotter than her current beau (Travis Van Winkle). So you can understand why I didn’t give a shit when she was unceremoniously killed off in the finale. Although credit is due for the writers pulling a fast one on me for killing off who I thought would be the “final girl”.
I will also say that Derek Mears, who plays Jason, does a pretty good job of making him move like a freight train instead of a lumbering cripple (check out the skip in his step as he approaches that girl on the ground right before the title is shown in the opening sequence). His body language is creepy and he definitely has the right body type for the character. Too bad this version of Jason is a big joke and non-scary thanks to the writers.

The kills are the main reason most people watch these films to begin with, and without them you’d be stuck watching cardboard characters in soap opera situations for 90 minutes. So when I say that the kills in this remake are lame beyond belief you know you’re in for a tedious experience. There’s not one that I can say I thought was excessively cruel, creatively executed or ironically humorous. You’ve seen everything here before in other slasher films, only with 100% less CGI. The only one I will admit took my by surprise was when Nolan (Ryan Hansen, who always seems to play douchebags) gets an arrow to the face out of nowhere while driving a speedboat. The worst, however, is Jason’s (supposed) death scene which is pretty pedestrian when compared to how he bought it in The Final Chapter or Jason Lives. Disappointing to say the least.
Director Marcus Nispel, who also helmed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, along with writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift show just how little they actually care for this property with how ineptly they’ve handled it. I’m not saying that the original Friday the 13th films are of an award winning caliber. Far from it. They are trash pure and simple, but entertaining trash for the most part. There are tropes that should have been left alone for the sake of the fans, but these jokers decided to change everything for the worse. I expected there to be some alterations to the formula, but each and every one does nothing but draw attention to the how bad most of the source material really was since the writers basically took the first four films and crammed them together into one.

Some people bitch about how Michael Bay and company changed the look of Optimus Prime in his Transformers films. Sure he looks different, but the character is exactly the same in the personality department. They even brought in the original voice actor from the cartoon for crying out loud. They knew the fans would appreciate that and the feature film Optimus is just as awesome as the one I remember from childhood. However, Bay and company did the exact polar opposite with the iconic character of Jason Voorhees. They took a simple idea for a character and bastardized it for no reason at all. So I will say this in regards to this putrid remake of Friday the 13th… “Thanks guys for raping my childhood”.

0.5 out of 5

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