Friday the 13th (2009)

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" It'll be easier for you than it was for Jason "

April 5th, 2013

While I'm not opposed to remakes I can't help but feel a little fatigue that they have become so frequent. When the Friday remake was announced I wasn't surprised but eventually started to really look forward to it (I'm usually indifferent to remakes preferring to catch them at home on DVD). When it comes to this horror franchise in particular each movie already felt like a rehash of the last. In fact it took 3 movies to actually define its presence meaning a rebooted universe could fix the problems of the past.

I was extremely disappointed the sequel Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash was never made (it was serialised in comic book form) but with the franchise moving into the hands of Platinum Dunes (New Line Cinema and Paramount Co-Produced this one) I had high hopes (I really enjoyed their version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre) that the film would have a more aggressive scary tone (I like the campy cheese brought with the original franchise but it was time for something different).

I had wondered how the movie was going to work given the fact that Jason wasn't the antagonist in the original movie but the flick dealt with that relatively quickly. The first couple of moments recount the death of Jason's mother at the hands of a camp councillor as a young Jason watches hidden away. Fast forward a number of years and Jason is now a homicidal wreck living in the forests of Crystal Lake. All is well until some pesky kids decide to party in the woods.

I'm not going to beat around the bush with this one, Friday the 13th (2009) is a great addition to the franchise but I'm not entirely convinced it's a full remake/reboot. While the film does change a couple of things to the Friday cannon it actually could slot quite easily within the original timeline. That and the fact that it actually feels like a sequel to a remake we seem to have missed (as well as to itself but we'll get to that later).Before we get to the oddities of the movie (that stop it from being out and out fantastic) I want to cover the things that work in the movie.

This being a new era lets cover this movies iteration of Jason. Gone are the more overblown aspects of the sequels and Jason is once again a human male (no zombie here). Derek Mears takes over the role and while he is an imposing figure to look at (the rugged woodlands costume fits Jason well) he gives the character more human traits. Ditching the walk and stalk this version actually has to chase down his victims and set traps (more like the Jason who appeared in Part 2 and 3). I thought this added more of a fear factor by raising tension with the suggestion that the cast actually had the chance of escape.

Jason gets the chance to cover his face with both the burlap sack from Friday Part 2 and eventually the hockey mask from Friday Part 3. Both look great and while Jason is no longer Jason without the hockey mask I can't help but feel the sack felt more natural to this version of the character (he's more of a hillbilly). The addition of hostage taking was something I liked as it gave a little more depth to the character that was searching for a replacement for his dead mother. It's easy to forget that Jason was a special needs child suffering incredible trauma. The character is more a tragic victim of circumstance (that's not to say he's not a vicious git).

What also surprised me was how great the casting and portrayal of characters were this time around. Instead of having huge numbers to be decimated over the run time we get a smaller bunch that have the time to develop into believable teenagers. Two of the cast members stood out more than the others.

Jared Padalecki plays Clay a man on the hunt for his missing sister who was last heard from at Crystal Lake. Clay is not that much different from his character Sam on the TV series Supernatural in personality and while it wasn't much of a stretch for the actor he was a great addition to the film. Not quite an Ahab (Slasher movie character hunting the villain) character Clay is instantly likable and easy to relate to as of his passion to find his sister. It's also a great contrast by having his character not be part of the main group of teens allowing for great moments of conflict and development of my favourite character in the movie.

Travis Van Winkle gives us one of the best Horror movie assholes in Trent who personifies the word douchebag. This is one of the most unlikable characters to ever grace the screen (Possibly worse than those in Halloween 6) and actually has you rooting for his comeuppance to come. The character who becomes more aggressive as the movie progresses but is never grating like some characters (Andrea from the Walking Dead comes to mind). The payoff to his antics is pitch perfect and left me satisfied.

As always a slasher can fail upon its execution of death scenes (ah, puns) and the Friday reboot defiantly delivers. While nothing is quite as elaborate as the original timeline things are a lot more brutal and aggressive (much in the same way they were in the Halloween remakes) it may take away a little of the fun factor but it allows the movie to actually fell like a horror. Death is presented as unpleasant and it works with the new darker tone. There is also a surprise element as a few of the cast I expected to survive actually died meaning that things were never as predictable as they first seem.

Overall the movie offers up familiar elements that match the Friday franchise while giving us a fresh feel (I like the nastier edge to things). Unfortunately there are a few baffling pieces that didn't quite work.

The first minor issue was the way they used the location of Crystal Lake. The film is practically unrelated to the events that transpire at camp Crystal Lake (aside from the 5 minute introduction). As a remake I expected the focus to be on camp councillors but we join the film after the camp has become deserted (and home to Jason). The dilapidated area is a great location but it feels more like something you would encounter in a sequel (where they planning a prequel at some point?).

Talking of sequels the opening of the film is rather drawn out and only slightly related to the rest of the movie. Acting as an abridged movie in its own right we get 30 minutes of a separate group of teens who are attacked by Jason. It's a brilliant set piece and some of the kills are gruesome (this whole sequence feels a lot more like the old school Friday series) but it becomes all rather pointless when you realise that these are not the main characters that the film is set around. At around the half hour mark the title pops up and you realise that there is still a full movie to go. It's an odd choice that gives you a bit of fatigue that you now have to get to know a new cast (This is very much one of the issues with Tarantino's Death Proof). Padalecki's Clay is actually searching for one of the girls in this first group which is why the rest of the movie seems like a sequel to itself.

That leads into the next issue that the film is overly long. For some reason the runtime of movies have increased over the years. Where 90 mins was the average films feel the need to last 2 hours. That's all well and good for certain genres but in a slasher film that's far too much padding. Set up the characters, get to the killing and lets all go home. I'm pretty sure if the opening was cut out it wouldn't make that much difference and the film would feel a lot brisker.

And then we get to the part which is going to sound a little strange ,especially how I've championed its use in previous flicks but the nudity is a little excessive. On the whole most of what they add is fine (topless water skiing may be silly but amusing) and fits within the realm of titillation but there is one sex scene which is far too graphic. I'm fine with things being a little bit more realistic and I can't deny that Julianna Guill is probably the most attractive actress to ever appear in a Friday film but her sex scene goes on for such a long time that it begins to become uncomfortable (we even intercut to other scenes and the shagging continues). I think like a lot of the movie certain scenes could do with a little more editing.

Friday the 13th (2009) has a much darker tone that I appreciated and can be held in the same regard with some of the original sequels. As a remake/reboot/introduction I'm not entirely sure it's as effective as it could have been but the original Friday series had shaky beginnings which were ironed out via sequels and I'm sure the same can be done here especially as it has a much stronger start.

Other reviews in the series

Friday the 13th (1980)
Friday the 13th Part 2
Friday the 13th Part 3
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Friday The 13th Part VII The New Blood
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Jason Goes To Hell
Jason X
Freddy vs. Jason
Friday the 13th (2009)

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Movie Details

Movie Poster Here
Director: Marcus Nispel
Screenplay:Damian Shannon
Mark Swift
Released: 2009
Starring: Jared Padalecki
Danielle Panabaker
Derek Mears