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. Just curious and hope you can clarify, when you say they took out the more supernatural stuff, you just mean in the actual events during the movie right? Because isn’t the whole nature of the movie kind of supernatural since Voorhees is actually dead since he drowned in the events that led to the first one? Or did they change the backstory so he’s actually a living breathing person that just likes to kill people?

  2. Ken, in the original Friday The 13th it’s Jason’s mother who THINKS that Jason drowned. In Friday The 13th pt. II Jason has somehow NOT drowned and lived alone in the woods growing big and homicidal. Somehow his mother never knew but Jason somehow saw her killed at the end of the first one and goes on a rampage. The supernatural stuff came later when the series really went off the rails.

    So this new one just simplifies everything: Jason is just a crazy mf’er living in the woods. Boom. There it is.

  3. Yes, I mean the actual events. He’s not super-powered and he can’t magically beat someone who’s running to their destination.

    Oh, and Ken… you’ll LOVE the scene in the film involving a gun. :-P

    Vic

  4. Wow Kofi, it’s been forever, I remember now that he sees his mother being killed, but I guess it was completely lost on me that his mother was merely under the impression that he was drowned. I guess I was younger or wasn’t paying much attention, but in the later ones they made it seem like he DID drown and that he’s come back to life to kill people there…

    And Vic, now that you’ve specifically said *I* would enjoy something, I am even more interested. I think you have a pretty good sense of my taste in movies so I’ll trust that… :-)

    Gorey fun here I come… :-D

  5. I’m so over PG-13 horror movies…

    Nothing makes a slasher flick better than a little blood and guts mixed with some inventive killing…

  6. @Ody

    I’m with you. “PG-13 horror movie” is an oxymoron as far as I’m concerned.

    Vic

  7. I am off to see this one right now……let you all know what I think when I get back…..thanks Vic, I was waiting on your review before I took off to see it. You Rock!!!

  8. @Smitty

    Let us know what you thought!

    Vic

  9. Vic,

    I’m a huge Friday the 13th fan and I appreciate your review for how you received the movie. This is not an award winning movie or genre, nor should anyone treat it that way– sadly, most people will.

    Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, not only did it completely recapture Friday The 13th and not harm it’s origin, it added onto it– LOGICALLY! When they showed how he knew where the teenagers were– brilliant. Him using hunting skills to kill them? Awesome.

    A couple of things that made me smile:

    1) In the third film, Jason is hung in a barn– much like the end of this one.

    2) In every movie Jason is seen killing atleast one person by coming up behind them and you see the blade come through their chest from behind– was glad to see that in this movie.

    Another thing I thought they did well was the fact they didn’t try to make Jason overly evil. They knew who we were there to see and who we were there to see get killed. Was rootin’ for Jason the whole movie!

    Thanks!

    Rev

  10. @Rev

    Yeah, I try to review movies within the context of what they’re trying to accomplish. I actually bumped up my rating on this one from 3 to 3.5/5 after thinking about it.

    Vic

  11. Rev, that’s why you don’t write reviews professionally. Spoiler alert? Spoiler alerts are for pansies! :-D

  12. I actually like every Jason movie except Jason goes to Hell and Jason takes Manhattan. Vic is right,these films are what they are and there’s no point going to see it if you already hate the genre.

    chuck

    chuck

  13. Ken,

    Really? For Friday the 13th Remake? Sorry I ruined the story for you =)

    I’ll be sure to insert that next time I divulge such important info on a film’s plot.

    Rev

  14. I stopped reading right when I saw it, but you did just say how this movie ends right? I’m not sure, I’m not looking back just in case, lol. :-P

    I know it’s not a serious movie, but I still like a little bit of a surprise or at least the attempt at it, lol.

  15. Actually as far as the original series goes, if you’ve watched the Evil Dead series as well, you will notice something very interesting on a table in the Vorhees house of part 9.

    My take on the original series, is that he actually did drown back in 1955(or is it 56?) and his mother dabbled in a bit of demon summoning to try and bring him back. She didn’t realize that she succeeded which is why she goes around killing counselors who she blamed. Either that or the act of summoning a demon drove her insane… take your pick really lol

  16. ok…..I will start of saying “For what this movie set out to be……it hit it out of the park!!!!!”. That being said.

    1. I found myself saying why a whole lot…Why throw ##### in the lake….Why not call the police…..and on and on.

    2. Are you going to tell me that there was only one gun in that whole hunting lodge? Oh Please…..whatever.

    3. The “Sleeping Bag” was a little over the top…..could have done without that…..though I found that to be the most memorable and most dread inspiring part of the movie…..so it really did its job….I guess.

    On the positive.

    1. We actually had a plot line to follow……kinda….in a twisted sort of way.

    2. The actors where not half bad….Jared Padalecki and Travis Van Winkle played real well off each other with there “tough guy” banter.

    3. The movie kept it real……but did not leave us cold……we all know Jason is “Special”.

    4. It was Jason Freakin Voorhees!!

    ok I do not do this for a living for obvious reasons….but….this was Jason……I waited along time to be old enough to catch a Friday the 13th movie in the theaters….thats one off the Bucket List.

    Now if only we can get Pumpkin Head and Chucky rebooted…..Just kidding Just kidding………or am I????

    later all

    Smitty

  17. LOL Smitty, you find yourself asking why A LOT in most horror movies.

    And I’m surprised to hear that there was even one firearm in this. Most horror movies have it conveniently where nobody is armed, because then the movie can potentially end with the bad guy being killed within the first 15 minutes. And usually when there is a gun involved in a horror movie, they would rather it seem like it serves no purpose because if it actually helps I’m sure the movie makers are afraid that will imply that people having guns a good thing, and we all know most of them don’t believe that so…

  18. Ok, I went to the movie opening night with every hope that it wouldn’t suck, even though I just knew it was and yup, it sucked!…but first off let me address this…”Kofi Outlaw said,
    February 12th, 2009

    Ken, in the original Friday The 13th it’s Jason’s mother who THINKS that Jason drowned.” Urmm…so he hid from his mom in the woods for 22 years? You do realize that Jason drowned in 1958 and the the original takes place in 1980, right?…Anyway, I only addressed that for one reason which ties into my sole purpose of writing this and that is this new movie starts where part I ends and part II picks up…soooo, after Jason’s mom is beheaded they show “Jason” picking up a machete…but did anyone notice his still a kid?..or was that just me?..so for the first like 31 years of his “life” he didn’t grow?…but the later 38 years of his “life” he grows into a super human killing machine…? So now he would be every bit of 70 by the time this movie supposedly takes place, but he’s running around like a teenage?…Then we have the underground tunnels?…Why would Jason have underground tunnels in his house?…Why would he need to “hide”?…Anyway, on to his captive…what was that?…We see him RUNNING like hes going for the Gold in the freakin Special Olympics (He is mentally retarded) and he swings and we fade to black…6 weeks later we find out he has her as a captive..no reason as to why she’s there, no explanation offered, no nothing, just her still freaking out after 6 weeks and thinking someone is going to hear her cry’s for help?…That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, which brings me to my next point… You hit the nail right on the head with this statement: “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.” Enough said about that. Now we come to the random murder of a “local” so he can FIND the hockey mask conveniently lying on the floor…how lame was that?…besides the fact the mask is just lying there, this local has probably been living around there for 30 years or so along with a lot of others but yet he just gets killed because of some teens coming into the neighborhood?…yeah, highly doughty that…The bottom line is this “movie” was made with no heart, no thought, no intention to hold true to the “Friday the 13th way”…Case in point…where was the music?…Where was the “ch-ch-ch, ah-ah-ah” from the older movies.?! Where was the suspense, the I know his there but where? How’s he going to kill this one? All we got was “Oh there he is” in your face hit them with a machete…yes there was a few other types of kills but 90% of them was with a machete…in the Friday the 13ths of old he used whatever was there and was creative with it…he didn’t plan what he was going to do..he just did it…why? Because his a deformed mental retarded with one thing on his mind…you dying…this movie everything was planned out…just lame…And finally we have the name dropping, from the director of so and so, and the producer of so and so, and the writer of so and so…who freakin cares…they didn’t get it done, that’s all that mattered…The movie had no plot, no point, and no substance…it sucked!

  19. @Ramey

    Take a breath dude – this was a REMAKE/REBOOT. Jason was a young kid in 1980, not 1955. I thought that was pretty obvious.

    Tunnels: Good question, gotta admit that.

    Holding the girl captive: She looks like his mother. Remember the scene where her boyfriend found the necklace and says “she looks like you?”

    Jason killed the barn guy because he was going onto Jason’s property to get the weed.

    And they did do the familiar sounds right at the opening of the movie, even before the opening credits. I don’t recall if they used it during the movie – don’t think they did though.

    As to plot and all that, how much plot did the original couple of Friday the 13th films have? I’m not saying this is Oscar material, but it is what it is.

    Vic

  20. I know it was a “remake/reboot” but Jason died in 1958, the original takes place in 1980 which 22 years has passed, so he isn’t and wasn’t a kid. Roger Ebert even pointed that fact out in his review of this movie of all ppl..lol..And yes I remember the statement about her looking like his mother…but how did she get there? How did she survive the swing for the fences attack?…none of this was even addressed, that would be a plot all in it’s self…there’s just way to many gaps and holes in this story is my point. As for the previous movies, there were a lot to the story, you pretty much got to know them before they died which when they actually did it kinda sucked because they pull you into the movie. Plus in each movie at least one character had a purpose. Part II, we get an deeper look into Jason’s past because it is a continuance of Part I, Part III he gets his mask for the fat goofy kid, besides, Jason stalked his victims through most of the movie keeping you in suspense waiting and watching, then BAM it’s on! With this one it was just fast paced in your face and you said yourself they were just cardboard cut outs for killing.

    I can’t name one Jason movie that New Line has put out that was watching more than that intentional time..they have made a mockery of the Friday the 13th franchise, Jason goes to hell was meant to kill the franchise off (and no it the ending wasn’t leading into Freddy vs Jason), Jason X was made because they weren’t making any other horror films and they just wanted to make one. Both of those films made no sense as this one makes no sense. New Line has a history of throwing movies together to make a quick buck and this is no except to the fact. I will say this as a “movie” it was ok, as a “Friday the 13th” it was horrible…they just used the name to make money off of nothing more, after the opening scene I was done with the movie I sat there girting my teeth just wanting to walk out…But I just had to stay and see the ending…which was lame also. They had every opportunity to tell a more in depth story which would be the point of a “reboot”. Other than the opening scenes you have no idea what’s going on. For those who don’t know the history of the movies all they got from it was “This kid named Jason drowned here and his mom killed all the camp counselors”…that’s about as in depth as it got. The movie was just all hype. Watch the previews, they marketed that movie as a remake, but delivered some whack off the wall BS movie. I mean with all these “great” movie minds working on it you’d think this was going to be a freakin block buster! But what it ended up being was needing a block busted over it so no one else can ever see that crap again! I have been watching these movies since they came out I didn’t get to watch the 1980 movie when it first came out but I was alive at the time…lol…but I did however get to see Part III and on as they came out. With any movie if they promote it like they did Friday the 13th, every time you turn on your TV there’s a promo, every time you get on your computer there’s a advertisement for it, etc… you know its going to suck. They know it sucks why do you think they are pushing it so much? They are wanting as much as they can get before the word spreads that it actually sucks! The movie has already made over $42 million in it’s opening weekend…that number will not go much higher…The promos and so forth are miss leading and untrue…as in the scene of him shaping his machete?…I never left the theater and didn’t’ see that…and then they actually lead you to believe that the movie was going to be redone. Which had me thinking ok they are going to at least tie the first 3 movies in to this one, which they did not…the whole movie was a Part II “redo” of sorts…all the scenes, phrases and so forth, were from Part II! I know, I know…I’m being harsh…but who can blame me? I go in hoping I’m going to see already killer movie told in a more in depth and true to the franchise and I ended up sitting there saying wth?! at just about every scene…There was just no thought in this movie…At all. And that’s why it sucked…:) And I must apologize for my long winded post, but I am a huge horror movie buff and know just about anything there is to know about them. So when the opportunity arises to “reboot”, “remake”, “retell” an awesome story and you make a mockery of it, yeah that kinda gets me PO’d…But, Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake was freakin AWESOME! Now that was how a remake was meant to be…all you have to do is tweak it make it more believable, not so unrealistic your sitting there scratching your head with a stupid look on your face trying to figure out what in the world is going on. They frame work has already been laid out, so how in the world after 8 solid movies can’t you just make one?…

  21. @Ramey

    It’s interesting you enjoyed the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake because the same director did this one.

    My point about the remake is that (much like last year’s Iron Man) they changed the origin year and moved it to the late 70s/1980 much like with Iron Man they changed Vietnam in the 60s to present day Afghanistan.

    I’m generally not a fan of remakes but I thought this one was all right – then again I’m not as attached to the original films as you obviously are.

    I can appreciate your passion for the horror genre – I have a similar one for superhero and sci-fi.

    BTW, a suggestion – if you would break up your comment into a few paragraphs it would make it easier to read. Just a thought. :-)

    Best regards,

    Vic

  22. Yeah, I know…I just get zoned into what I’m saying and not what how I’m saying at times..lol…blame it on the ADD..haha.

    Anyway, there’s a big misconception about who directed a movie. The Director merely takes what was written by someone else and puts whats on paper and transforms into life. So if the script is bad so will what you see be also.

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre stayed true to it’s origin, they made small little tweaks to make it more believable. Like the opening scene where the police are in the house and it’s setup up so realistic it was amazing! You saw things that were later explained in the movie. Like the finger nail scratches in the walls leading down stairs. That was so awesome! And the ending, where he attacks the police officers and they play it out like it was actual police footage because Texas Chainsaw Massacre is “based on actual events”. Loosely I might add but still. What he did with that movie was great because he had great writers.

    This new Friday the 13th, you know who they brought in to write it?…The same 2 dudes that wrote Freddy vs Jason!…imagine that, we all know what a bang up job they did with that movie! That movie was so stupid, but I can’t bash it because it is ORIGINAL and not a rip off of a cult classic. So it was it is.

    And yeah, I can understand the time line changes, but again…that wasn’t addressed. So there for, nothing changed except we went from 1980 to present day. Only “dates” addressed, because if you remember in the first part of the movie they tell the story of Jason drowning, never said when, only that his mom went nuts and killed everyone in site. They never once gave a year.

    I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to vent my frustrations with this incarnation of a movie though…lol..It just really sicked me. My daughter knows nothing of the history or really anything about the movies of old and she looked at me and said this is stupid he doesn’t do that,…lol..so when a 15 year old says that, you know to listen! Thank you again…

  23. Come on guys, I am amazed how many of you gave this movie a decent review. It was awful, a terrible slow plot combined with little horror movie feel. I left before it ended because I couldn’t take it anymore.

  24. @Ramey
    No problem, I love having articulate and passionate commenters like you visit the site.

    @darthbalo
    Sorry, dude – I enjoyed it. I *did* mention in my review that I predicted fans would probably be split on this. :-)

    I will admit that the rest of the movie never did measure up to those intense opening 15-20 minutes.

    Vic

  25. I am usually pretty critical when I watch movies, except if it is a Jason Voorhees movie… I enjoyed Freddy Vs. Jason. It was incredibly stupid, but I liked seeing Freddy get owned by our favorite hockey mask wearing brute with a machete. My favorite was when that girl made fun of Freddy and his “Christmas Sweater.” That was classic. And Freddy’s facial expression when he was first pulled out of the dream and sees Jason standing there, lol. That is the “Oh %$^#$!” look. He deserved getting owned by Jason, that child molesting a-hole…

  26. I liked the movie, ill admit i am a sucker for friday the thirteenth movies but it was good. If you wanted inventiveness in the kills the sleeping bag incident was shockingly amazing. And Ram, 90% of the kills were not by a machete, and the ones that were held variety as well. I especially liked some of the nods to the other movies in the film.

  27. The movie was a huge disappointment for me. I couldn’t agree more with Ramey. The writers had a chance to upgrade this franchise and really tell a story about Jason to a new generation and they blew it. To me this was the worst Friday the 13th movie I’ve seen. Not to mention the annoying crowd that went to see it.
    I understand it’s a slasher film but we’ve seen the same damn story in 11 previous movies. The same stupid guys with 70′s haircuts, the black guy, and the Asian guy. Just typical.
    It seems like they cast bad actors on purpose, I just don’t understand the terrible acting and terrible directing. Is that a requisite?
    If they write an actual story and develop the characters then it’s immediately more engaging, especially when you’re getting to know and feel those characters and then BAM!, Jason kills them. That’s what I was expecting.
    I dragged my girlfriend to see this crap, promising it would be amazing. I am now single.

    Other than the painfully bad acting, the first 20 minutes were actually pretty good.

  28. Vic, I usually agree with your reviews but you should take a look at this movie again and realize that it was one big flaw. The writing, the acting, the directing, the this and the that… everything.

  29. Also, bow and arrow?! Are you kidding me?! They can’t find any trace of the moron’s sister or her friends?! Seriously?! Does Jason know how to clear a crime scene with forensic perfection?! Okay, I know it’s a movie but c’mon. Just a simple way to veer away from that little hurdle, eh?
    This is just my disappointment typing.

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