Friday The 13th Review

Published 6 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)

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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. @Smitty

    Let us know what you thought!

    Vic

  8. 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

  9. @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

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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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…

  16. @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

  17. @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

  18. 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.

  19. @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

  20. 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…

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.