Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Friday the 13th (2009)

Remakes. Reimagings. Reboots. Whatever you choose to call recycled and reused ideas in Hollywood, everyone has their opinion on them. Most horror fans think they are all rubbish, and I tend to agree. Sometimes, though, I see a few of them so I can judge for myself whether they are decent or completely useless.

In recent memory there have only been a few decent remakes, like Alexandre Aja’s The Hills Have Eyes. With the hope of something good coming out of all the unoriginality Hollywood has to offer, I set out to watch the new Friday the 13th “reimaging,” which really is a mix of parts 1, 2 and 3 instead of a straight remake. I’ve been wary of it ever since I first heard about it, especially since it was produced by Michael Bay and directed by Texas Chainsaw remake director Marcus Nispel, but even though I thought a reboot of the classic was unnecessary, I figured I’d give it a chance.

A chance I wish I had never taken…

A group of 20-somethings hike into the woods to look for a pot farm, which just happens to be near the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. One of the kids explains how 20 years ago Mrs. Vorhees went psycho and slaughtered the camp counselors, blaming them for her son’s drowning death at the camp. The kid goes on to explain that Mrs. Vorhees son, Jason, is actually rumored to be alive and killing people to avenge his mother’s death in the very woods they are in. ‘Sho ‘nuff, they’ve stumbled on Jason’s stomping grounds and he makes bloody quick work of the group.

Six months later, Clay is looking for his missing sister, who was one of the unfortunates in the pot-seeking group. Clay has had no luck with the authorities around Crystal Lake taking his sister’s disappearance seriously, so he’s decided to take things into his own hands. He is convinced that she disappeared near Crystal Lake and won’t give up until he finds some clue or leads about her disappearance. Clay meets up with a bunch of douchebag rich kids who are partying at a cabin by the lake and one-by-one they meet their deaths at the hands of Jason.

I couldn’t even think of a synopsis that would make this film sound interesting! Seriously, Hollywood studios, please stop insulting horror fans’ intelligence by releasing these watered-down remakes! I know you are just trying to make a quick buck, but does that buck have to come at the expense of genre fans? We are the core audience of these remakes, so stop pissing us off!!

There are so many things wrong with this movie I don’t even know where to start. The main things that really bugged me about this reboot were the plot holes, inconsistencies and just overall laziness with the story. Freddy vs. Jason writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift aren’t known for their consistency and other writer Mark Swift’s only claim to horror fame is his The Messengers script, so right then and there you know the story isn’t going to be the film’s strongest point.

First off, let’s talk about some of the ridiculous story points in the plot. The opening scene with the first bunch of kids searching for pot didn’t ring true at all. If it was Jason’s stomping grounds do you really think he’d let a pot farmer plant his crop there? Don’t think so! And weren’t the kids even remotely worried about pot farmers, who usually pack heat as well as plant booby traps so no one gets in their crop? The whole “pot” angle really could have been left out of the movie and nothing would have been lost, which really makes me wonder why it was in there in the first place! That may be a minor quibble, but another WTF moment came when we are introduced to Jason’s underground lair. Yep, apparently Jason has spent the last 20 or so years tunneling under Camp Crystal Lake and building an underground hideout just like Leatherface and family did in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2! Was this necessary? Did this make Jason any scarier? Did this make any kind of sense? No, no and no!!

As for the characters, they were all unlikable buffoons that you didn’t care about. None of the women really stood out and didn’t have much to do except get naked and all the guys were pretty much macho assholes or stoners. At least in the originals there were some spunky kids you could root for, but here it is a barren wasteland of banality. The closest we came to having any empathy was for Jared Padalecki’s character of Clay, but even then he would turn around and do something boneheaded (like fighting douchebag rich kid #1) that made you lose all sympathy for him.

You’d think watching the lackluster characters suffer horrible deaths would be fun, and it might have been had the kills actually been brutal or at least interesting. The lack of gore and uninventive, boring deaths sure were a snooze, just like the rest of the movie. The only memorable death I can remember is one involving someone in a sleeping bag suspended over a camp fire being burned alive…but that was within the first 15 minutes and it was all downhill from there.

The only commendable thing about this “reimaging” is Derek Mears performance as Jason. Physically, he looked the hulking, menacing part and also got down Jason’s creepy mannerisms quite well! The character of Jason, being faster and smarter, is a bit different from the one we are used to and I can’t say I enjoyed his ninja-quick way of disappearing and reappearing (like from the ground to onto a roof in 1.5 seconds), but Mears’ performance was the only thing I enjoyed in the film.

Friday the 13th is a spotty patchwork of plot holes, unlikable characters, unbelievable circumstances and uninteresting kills. Marcus Nispel’s direction looks sleek and flashy as usual, but you can’t really polish a turd. No matter how pretty and shiny it looks, the weak storyline, stupid characters and lackluster kills just drag this film down.

A very disappointing reboot for horror fans, Friday the 13th is one Friday you’ll want to forget.

Available from Amazon!

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