Friday The 13th Review

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 13th, 2009 at 2:51 pm,

Short version: This fresh take on the original Friday the 13th actually works.

friday the 13th reviews Friday The 13th Review
Screen Rant reviews Friday the 13th

This review of Friday the 13th is for people who are fans of the 1980s style of slasher horror movies.

If you are not into movies whose sole purpose is to display gore, a variety of ways to kill people (who you probably wouldn’t mind seeing come to a grisly end), sex and nudity via thinly developed characters, then move along folks – nothing to see here.

If however you’re looking for an R-rated horror thrill on the big screen, read on.

Now it’s a well established fact here on Screen Rant that for the most part I am not a fan of movie remakes. Most of them are made simply to cash in on a well known film and they’re usually poorly done and bring nothing new to the story put forth in the original. While I did see the the Dawn of the Dead remake which came out in 2004, I haven’t seen Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween, nor director Marcus Nispel’s version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Neither of those was very well received.

The latter is relevant because Nispel also directed this update of Friday the 13th, and I have to say I think he did a decent job of rebooting the world of Jason Voorhees. The original film was released in 1980 and cost a whopping $700,000 to produce (about $1.8MM in today’s dollars). This new version cost about 10X that much, but frankly, you don’t really see that on the screen. Then again I guess anything under $20 million is considered low budget these days.

Anyway, enough history… what about THIS one?

I have a feeling even among slasher film fans, there will be a split on this one – personally I thought the director did a great job of refreshing the story/franchise for 2009.

The film opens right off the bat with a connection to the original – before the familiar Paramount Studios mountain is off the screen we here the trademark “ch-ch-ch, ah-ah-ah” from the older films. From there we are thrust right into a girl being chased through the woods on a stormy night (summer, 1980), shown in black and white. As it turns out we’re looking at the final moments in the original film, where the lone surviving girl from the film faces off against Jason’s mother.

From there we cut to present day with a bunch of young twenty-somethings out in the woods backpacking – it soon becomes known that the reason they’re out in the middle of nowhere is to look for a marijuana garden out in the middle of the woods. A couple of them fancy themselves entrepreneurs and are thinking about all the cash they’ll make off selling the pot.

We have your standard cliche cross-section of characters: The “good” couple, the geek, the hot babe, and the jerk. Within about 10 minutes of the film starting you’ll have already heard about 7 f-bombs and seen one pair of obviously synthetic breasts. Oh yes, this is indeed rated R, and we haven’t even gotten to the gore.

They’re camped out right outside Camp Crystal Lake and “geek boy” tells the story of Jason and how his mother killed a bunch of camp counselors almost 30 years ago. He goes off to relieve himself and finds the pot garden, while the “good” couple (the girl is concerned about her sick mom and feels bad for having left for the weekend) wander into Camp Crystal Lake proper and end up exploring an old run down house. I don’t have to tell you who lives in it. Meanwhile hot babe and jerk boy end up having sex in a tent.

Now that everyone is sufficiently separated, Jason appears to kill them all one at a time, each in a different and gruesome way. This all happens within about the first 20 minutes of the film, so you’re immediately thrust into the action and ramped up to 60mph. I was wondering how they could kill off all the characters so quickly, just when the opening title FRIDAY THE 13TH appears on the screen, and the audience cheered. My thought was basically “oh man, you mean this is only really getting started now?”

So fast forward another six weeks and we meet another group of primarily obnoxious young folks. We have the rich guy who thinks he’s king of the world, the sweet girl who for some reason is his girlfriend, a black fellow who loves to jokingly pull the race card on his buddies to yank their chains, a brawny guy and his babe girlfriend, and an Asian guy (a pretty funny Aaron Yoo) who is the comedian of the bunch.

Rich guy and girlfriend run into Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki), the brother of one of the girls we saw in the previous scenes – he’s distributing flyers stating she’s missing and he is determined to find her. The party crew goes off to rich boy’s daddy’s expensive cabin in the woods while Clay goes around town on his beater motorcycle looking for anyone who’s seen his sister.

Eventually Clay and rich guy’s girlfriend come across Jason’s (Derek Mears) cabin and see him bringing home a dead body. Soon thereafter, one by one the party gang are picked off by Jason until we’re down to only a couple of survivors.

Now for “purists,” you need to understand that even though this has been called a remake of Friday the 13th, it’s more accurately a remake of Friday the 13th Part 2, as it picks up right at the end of the first film. For the film to have Jason as the antagonist, there was really no other way to do it. Now as to the variety of “kills,” I’ve heard complaints that they weren’t “creative” enough, but geez… Jason dispatches his victims in this film using a machete, bow & arrow, fireplace poker, antlers, screwdriver, bear trap, fire and even an impalement for good measure.

I liked that they brought Jason back to the basics – gone is the quasi-supernatural aspect of the character. Here he’s just a huge dude who likes to kill people (up until the very end where they bend that way a bit). They don’t run for five minutes and then he suddenly appears ahead of them and that sort of thing. I found him to be very physically imposing and brutal. The film had lots of nods to the first two or three films, right down to the ending which was a definite hat tip.

I even felt a bit of suspense and dread during the movie, which didn’t resort to an endless number of “jump scares” that are so common in PG-13 horror movies. Oh sure, it had a few but it didn’t depend on that as its primary scare tactic.

So what’s not so great? There’s no real getting to know the characters here – they’re all pretty much cardboard cut outs set up like bowling pins just so they can get killed. There was one scene that just really didn’t fit and was obviously inserted into the film just to show you how Jason ends up with a hockey mask (he starts out with a burlap bag on his head). Also, after the adrenaline-pumping opening 20 minutes, the rest of the film just wasn’t able to quite measure up and it suffered for it.

Overall though I thought it was a fresh take on the 1980s slasher genre that accomplishes what it sets out to do: Scare the heck out of you.

But for God’s sake – LEAVE THE KIDS AT HOME for this one.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

TAGS: 3 star movies, friday the 13th

55 Comments

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  1. Alex,

    Well I’m certainly not going to take the blame for your losing your girlfriend. :-P

    What can I say? It’s a Friday the 13th movie and on that level I enjoyed the hell out of it. I don’t expect deep character development or Oscar winning performances from a movie like this: I expect a visceral thrill and for me it delivered on that level.

    Vic

  2. I am just so surprised that there were no shots of a full moon (at least I don’t remember). That was such an important thing in the other movies to set the mood. Was it even Friday the 13th in this movie? I’m not sure if that was even mentioned.

  3. Well, he’s not a werewolf, it just seems like in movies, anytime they show the moon it’s always full. Seriously, have you ever seen a shot of the moon in a movie where it wasn’t full??

  4. Ken,

    Not to be a prick, but in Angels in the Outfield the crescent moon was described as “God’s thumbnail.”

    I have no idea why I remember that.

    Also, I’d like to say I own ten of the now thirteen movies and I thoroughly enjoyed this one– it will be welcome in my collection.

    Rev

  5. Oh, I haven’t seen that movie. I just remember that in movies, everytime they show the moon in movies, from what I remember the moon always happen to be full, not just horror movies, any kind of movies. But that’s just what I remember from the movies I have seen so it could just be a weird coincidence.

  6. I’ve always been a huge fan of slasher films, even though I spend half the movie criticizing it and the other half hiding (I’m a big chicken).

    The Friday the 13th franchise has always been my favourite, at least up until that whole weird supernatural mystic knife thing they tried to do around the ninth film with the guy who played the police captain on 21 Jump Street. What was that about?

    But, I digress.

    Reading back on a few comments there was a mention of why Jason would kill “Barn Guy”, and while Vic pointed out it was because he (“Barn Guy”) was trespassing on his property to steal weed, it could also be because “Barn Guy” interrupted Jason while he was stealing kerosene from the upstairs loft. The kerosene theft being something “Barn Guy” had mentioned to Clay earlier on in the film.

    Or, perhaps the filmmakers just wanted a total of 13 deaths by the ending credits. Who knows?

    While we’re on the subject of the weed garden…At the beginning of the movie, when “Geek Boy” and “Jerk Guy” reveal their true motives for camping, they mention it was a third party who tipped them off to the marijuana growing in the woods. My question is, if Jason kills anyone who sets foot on his property, how did this third party find the weed and make it out of Crystal Lake alive?

    Now onto the tunnels…I don’t think the tunnels were just underneath Jason’s house, but stretched throughout the camp. Remember, one the tunnel exits came up through that over turned bus. I believe that was the filmmaker’s way of explaining how Jason could be behind you one minute, then pop up in front of you the next. He created underground shortcuts to intercept his prey. The same was he rigged those tripwires to bells to inform him when someone was trespassing on his property.

  7. You know, today I just re-watched the original Friday the 13th for the first time in many years.

    Those who are complaining about lack of plot and character development in this latest film REALLY need to go re-watch the original again then come back and tell me how much of each of those that film contains. :-P

    Vic

  8. That is exactly the point, Vic. That they’re all the same. Fans needed to see something different, something fresh and new. They needed to, at least, write a decent script.
    Take Halloween, for instance. The acting was crap but they gave Michael Myers a solid and great backstory.
    You’ve seen this Friday the 13th, you’ve seen them all.

  9. By the way, Vic, how creepy was the part in the first one when one of the girl counselors is about to go to sleep after reading two lines from her book and she hears a faint voice of a girl yelling, “help me!”
    I thought that was kinda scary.

  10. Alex, what can I say? I liked this latest one.

    And the first one was of course totally creepy throughout the first time I saw it. :-)

    Vic

  11. I think what I liked best about this movie was all the subtle shout-outs to the previous Friday the 13th movies. Like Mark’s wheelchair from part 2 which could be seen mounted on the wall in one of the tunnels beneath Jason’s house.

  12. One question why cant anyone just freakin cut Jason’s head off?

  13. @Johnny

    Maybe he’s wearing a neck brace in addition to that hockey mask, lol.

    Vic

  14. Johnny,

    It’d be stupid-hard to cut his head off even if he were already dead, cutting through sternomastoid and vertebrae is probably more difficult than Akira would have us believe =)

    Not to mention, if you take the original three films as the “main story,” ( as it was supposed to be a trilogy, nothing more ) Jason totally takes an axe to the forehead, killing him. I love how you can see that gash in his mask in every movie after.

    Rev

  15. I read alot of negative comments about the movie, series and similar remakes on this site…and I say, forget you.

    Lack of substance? Yes.
    Lack of Plot? Sure.
    Poor directing? Maybe.

    Oh well boys and girls, guess what, you went to see the movie as well which is what the production staff and crew wanted you to do, so they have obviously accomplished there goal now didn’t they. Are there alot of cheesy and over the top moments in the Friday saga, I say yes there most certainly are, but I take each and every movie for what it is and personally love each and every one of them for that reason. If you hate the movie and series so much, than why don’t you just go find a dungeons and dragons site to post on while sitting in your mothers basement, instead of reading reviews of a movie that you “Claim” to hate.

  16. I guess, to me, I was expecting a little more background.For those young folks who might have never seen a friday film, this was probably a good one, but for me, there was nothing new. I left the movie wanting thoses two hours of my life back.

  17. i went to see this movie with high hopes. maybe that was my problem, but this one is the worst remake i’ve seen. rob zombie should have done it, Halloween was great! my problems with this:
    1. friday the 13th is not a comedy. there were way to many laughs.
    2. this is a slasher flick. where were the blood n guts?? sure there was some blood, but there should have been lots more. and i dont remember seeing any grusome seens with guts all over the place. those 2 things are most important in a slasher film, IMHO.
    3. jason doesnt run. period. sure i can understand, who hasnt complained about him catching up to people who run away from him. but thats jason. he has the big, powerfull, fully in control style walk.
    4. this should have been a remake of the first movie. retell the origins of jason. there was not much of a back story at all. ok, so the guy tells the back story durring the camp fire scene. for a person who has never watched the originals, how much can they understand that little story? for a better idea of what i’m trying to get at, just look at halloween. the rob zombie version explained the origins of michael meyers very well, and did an excellent job with the present day part. they could have easily worked this movie that way too.
    5. the mask. why was an old, beat up looking hockey mask, found in the attic of a hillbilly?? i did not get the impression that he even knew what hockey is!
    6. jason is smart? he has never needed a trip wire to alert him to someones pressance. tunnels? he had to dig them himself, why would a campground have them? and to be able to dig them around the woods, he has to have mapping skills. ive never felt that jason was smart from watching the originals (that i can remember).
    8. jason lived in a shack in the woods, not one of the huts (or bunkers, or whatever they’re called) in the campground. by the way, that sure looked like a house to me..

    what i did like about the movie.. the sleeping bag death scene was pretty cool. i did like that one. although the girl should have been burnt alittle more. jason did look like jason. that was a plus. and the nudity was good.. lol but thats about it i think. all in all, i would like my 12 bucks back please.

  18. Vic,

    I saw this for the first time last night. While it was a descent horror movie I felt the ending was a little too out of control. Spoiler Warning!! I know that the end of slasher films like Friday the 13th are supposed to always have one last come back from the killer but the fact that the main characters in this film would probably had to disassemble the entire wood chipper to get Jason’s body and the chain his neck/head were attached to out of it and they felt the need to bring along his mask and a token of his mother along with to drop him in the water was just too much for me.

  19. I enjoy a well made horror film as well as anyone, but most are completely illogical and quite a few are downright stupid. To act of expending time and energy commenting on the lack of logic and holes in the plot of such a film baffles the hell out of me. To do this with a quality film makes sense, but to try and make sense of something that starts out at birth as fantasy and unbelieveability seems kinda dumb and a complete waste of time, does it not?

  20. Saw the movie on Sunday the 15th (work). I have to agree with others who question the integrity and lack of supernatural elements. I have to say this film could of been so much better if they would have kept to the supernatural element, which they threw back in at the last scene of the movie. It was also boring the way the deaths were in acted, I mean come on Friday the 13th with Jason Voorhees was all about the dang u got messed/comedic kills. Hopefully the unrated DVD will be better than the rated version, but overall not too bad.

  21. I just bought the dvd and I kinda liked it. it’s not great, it’s not an oscar nominee, but then again, it’s a friggin’ slasher flick. does it need to be?
    I personally think that the kills were pretty creative and the movie did honor to the other Friday films. I liked how they really did something new with Jason. if I want to see the old Jason, I’ll just watch the other films. this wasn’t a remake, this was like a reboost or whatever. this wasn’t supposed to be exactly like the other films. so i think they did a great job. I wasn’t expecting to see characterdevelopment or anything, I wanted to see Jason killing pretty, annoying people. and I got what i asked. why should they make characters all deep and stuff, when they die anyway. but Aaron Yoo was funny and I liked that.
    but there were some downs for me. even though I love Jared Padalecki, his story line was a bit much. SPOILER! and why did Jason left Whitney alive and kidnap her? yeah, it’s never done before, but we wanted to see killing, not brother-sister-happy-ending
    but otherwise, I think the movie was pretty good. I’d watch it again

  22. At first i could not wait for this movie to come out but when it did i was sadly disapointed. My friends said it was good. I guess i can never trust them again. The old ones were much better. This movie really did not have a good story with it. It’s the same old same old, teenagers go out to the woods, do bad things then get killed for it. They just need to think more mix it up. It was not even really gory. I give it a four and thats being nice.

  23. I watched this the other night & I have to say I enjoyed it – It did exactly what a Friday film should do! Homicidal maniac kills lots of people that should die, plus the exception that shouldn’t but does anyway.Leave your brain at the door and enjoy the gore :=)
    Granted the missing sister storylie was a bit much,but lets face it, I wasn’t expecting Macbeth.

  24. I always thought that it would be a great idea to make a movie called “Saturday the 14th”. The main plot would involve a load of police investigating a ton of murders and desperately trying to mop up all of the blood and gore ;-)

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