Yeah, Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes strike again and, yet again, they completely miss the point!
Before I move on, let me announce, grudgingly, that this film wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. That said, it still sucks. In some ways, the remake of Friday the 13th suffers even worse from the fact that it's not as bad as it had to be, because each time a glimmer of quality could be glimpsed a major let down followed. It's as if Friday the 13th was calculated to disappoint. Every time I thought "Oh, wow, they could really do something with that, now couldn't they?", the characters did something so ridiculously uncharacteristic and stupid I couldn't believe I was watching anything but a farce. Those few good points stand out in this film as plot peaks, however, the ways the characters get from high-point to high-point are all mere plot contrivances and dusty-old McGuffins.
The character of Jason Voorhees quickly outshined the series itself, so it makes some quasi sense that this film reimagining would focus much more on Jason himself than the original did. That said, it's rather disturbing that the "remake" portion of this film lasts approximately ninety seconds. Pamela Voorhees (here played by an underused Nana Visitor) shows up, spouts some lines from the original at Stephanie Rhodes' "Camp Counselor" (she wasn't even on screen long enough to be named Alice Hardy) and Nispel dusts off his hands saying "Well, cool, we've explained the Mommy Issues, now we can move on!" This might be excusable if this pre-credits sequence had enough substance to prop up the back-story, but it doesn't. Oh, don't worry, though, if you showed up late, we quickly get a recap of the whole thing by another character. It's called padding out the film. Good job.
Flash forward to the present day when a group of five Meddling Kids shows up in the woods near Crystal Lake looking to - I'm not kidding - steal some pot. I had to wonder if the characters' long ruminations on how rich peddling stolen shit was going to make them might have been the writers channeling themselves through their goofy characters. But that's just the guys... The two women are, luckily, beautiful. There's Amanda Righetti's Whitney who wants to get home to her ailing mother and America Olivo's Amanda who wants to give us our first fantastic nude scene. And fantastic, it is... that is until the pillow-case-masked Jason Voorhees (here played by Derek Mears from Dragon Wars) traps them, cuts them and cooks them. Dick move!
Quick question... there's apparently a crop of marijuana large and well known enough for this disquiet quintet to hear about it... and so when they show up, Jason does his normal camper-ka-bob thing. So... what happened to the corn bags who planted the damned crop? What about the midnight tokers who spread the rumor of enough pot to satiate Michael Phelps? What, do they have "Voorhees Proof Vests"? Or, what, they just got him high? Would that work?
The world may never know. What we do soon learn is that Whitney's brother Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) shows up in the town of Crystal Lake to find his sister, who has been missing, by this time, for six weeks. He's mainly still on the case because Crystal Lake's finest (represented by Richard Burgi) gave up a long time ago. Yeah, he's probably seen Jason Goes to Hell and figured "Screw this!"
Naturally, no Friday the 13th flick is complete without an entire roster of young people to die in lots of horrible ways thanks to Jason. As is common, these consist of beautiful women and the completely idiotic dipstick guys who inexplicably accompany them (but HARDLY deserve to). In the former category, we have the lovely Willa Ford, whose Chelsea gives us an enchanting topless water-skiing show that made me immediately want to go out and buy a boat. Then there's Julianna Guill, whose Bree grants us a peerless nude scene! Peerless! (More on this later!) Then there's Danielle Panabaker's Jenna, who seems to be the only character who is aware enough of her environment to recognize that she's surrounded by knuckle-dragging dorks and thus, keeps her clothes on (dammit). This also gives her the presence of mind to prefer hanging out with a stranger like Clay, no matter how improbable that concept may be. Improbable, yes, but the "filmmakers" made the rest of the guys out to be such wastes of space that even Padalecki looked better by comparison!
You know the core of the spiel by now. The girls get naked, the guys act like idiots, dope is smoked, booze is consumed, sex is had and blood is spilled! Jason is a silent juggernaut as he carves a graceless swath through guy and girl alike. All the while, he's presented as something of an anti-hero with a weak stab at sympathy on the part of Nispel and the writers. Of course, some of the guys are so obnoxious, it's kind of hard NOT to root for Jason, though I'm pretty sure that's not quite what the producers were going for. Man, when Ryan Hansen bought it, I actually applauded.
But at least Hansen's character of Nolan was consistent. He was virtually the only one in the film, not that he had enough development to deviate. The rest of the characters are equally onion-skin thin and change at the whim of the script, adapting to any idiotic textual contrivance that writers Mark Swift, Damian Shannon and Mark Wheaton could pull out of their asses. Were it not for the paycheck, I have to wonder if credited character creator Victor Miller would have asked not to be associated with such a mess. When the "story" requires a characters to run straight into Jason's abode (in spite of the fact that they already know it's Jason's abode), they do just that... thinking they're (excuse me for laughing) escaping Jason. Yeah, let's hope he doesn't (drumroll) come home. When characters are almost free they choose to box themselves into a local barn... because it's raining. Yeah, good thinking. A psycho slasher is hot on your trail and he's sure to shove a machete up your ass, but, you know, you really don't have an umbrella, so...
As Friday the 13th is yet another "reimagining" of a previous (and superior) film more than it is a direct remake, the film makers adopted a new set of events (cribbed, in some small part, from the first three films). At times I found it interesting that, with a few exceptions, this film might fit in as a separate (possibly concurrent) story that goes along side the existing series. The only major difference from existing continuity is the way Jason procured his iconic Hockey Mask. One of the saving graces about this film is that the series it is based on paid very little attention to its own continuity anyway. Each entry was pulled out of the ass of whomever had the helm that time out. Hell, more than one of them declared, within the very title, that it was surely to be the last one! This one is not much different. It was pulled out of the ass of the clowns who made it and tossed onto the screen. Friday the 13th the Remake is neither the worst film to bear that title, nor is it the best. Similarly, this is neither the worst "bad horror remake", nor is it terribly memorable, nor does it add anything noteworthy to the saga.
Part of the reason for this is the group of business people who made this film. The two companies who produced all of the Jason films, New Line and Paramount teamed up here to release this new movie, but the strike-outs at Platinum Dunes are the hacks who made the damned thing. Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes are not interested in making films and they don't care much about those who view them. Platinum Dunes makes "product" on a mass-production scale. They brainstorm what they think their target demographic will think was cool and they shove that in, limply wrapped around a mediocre and largely borrowed plot. Instead of scares, we get startles. Instead of suspense, we get cheap jumps and shocks.
Luckily, one of the things that was calculated for in the gratuity area was a respectable amount of amazing nudity. America Olivo sets the stage beautifully with her sweet tease and Willa Ford's follow up is only ruined by the presence of Jason himself (I'd have paid just to see her ski in the buff). Julianna Guill's nude scene, however, is absolutely mind-blowing. She is nothing short of incredible and the cast and crew seems to know this. Prerequisite stoner hangers on Aaron Yoo and Arlen Escarpeta can't stop commenting on her while she's clothed... so just imagine her nude scene!!! This extended, eye-popping sequence has to be seen to be believed and is almost worth the price of ticket and time to see. Travis Van Winkle's Trent describes her breasts as "Stupendous!" in an awe-stricken voice. I doubt that was even scripted. I'm thinking that Van Winkle was so mesmerized by the sight that he broke character and said what he thought and Nispel just left it in there. I don't see how Van Winkle could possibly justify having received payment for playing this role, man! He should give his check back and say "I... I can't! I just... I can't!" Seriously, the amazing Bree is bouncing on Trent while Jason is actually watching them through the window and their friends are banging on the door, screaming out a warning to them that a killer is outside... and Trent just screams for them to shut up, so as not to be interrupted. Julianna Guill naked is more important than surviving Jason Voorhees! This, my friends, is the most realistic part of Friday the 13th! Forget the slasher thriller... I want more of that scene!
What made these original horror films into classics is the fact that they were truly groundbreaking. The creators took a low budget and created something truly unique and challenging. This current crop of horror flicks is much less about movie magic than it is about corporate investments and dollar signs. They have larger budgets, but don't break any new ground or build anything fascinating. In short, companies like Platinum Dunes completely miss the mark when they make these shortcut flicks. But as long as people continue to shell out their dollars, these bad horror remakes will continue to be made. Still, while Friday the 13th could have been (and, let's face it, has been) much, much better, this remake could have also been worse. It's not a good movie, especially when the few intelligent parts are so limply and illogically taped together, but 2009's Friday the 13th remake does earn Two and One Half Stars out of Five! Yes, this is perhaps the best film that Platinum Dunes has ever made, but that doesn't say much. If good Horror flicks are steak dinners and horror remakes are fast food burgers, Friday the 13th, the remake, is the Grocer's Freezer knockoff of said fast food burgers. It's not good for you, and it's not known for its taste, but it's, at least, edible. It's hard to believe that I've given a Platinum Dunes flick Two and a Half Stars... but, mind you, if it weren't for the mind-enthralling nudity (especially, but not limited to, Guill's), this flick would only have received two! See you in the next reel, folks, and remember, there are certain reasons to watch both Bad Horror Remakes and Bad Horror Sequels. Hell, I may even watch Road Trip II: Beer Pong, now! Happy Friday the 13th, everybody, and Happy Valentine's day, Julianna, Willa and America. Thank you!
Man, I have to wonder why there aren't more
Country Music songs inspired by Friday the 13th!
Seems like a no-brainer!
I hear when you play a Country Song backwards
You get your house back, you get your car back,
you get your Wife back, you get your friends back...
Unfortunately, backwards or forwards if you click this link
you still get the same old Reviews!
In the past week my Uncle passed away, my Benefits Cards stopped working, my kid got sick, my sister confirmed she had to ship out to Afghanistan, my car needed work, I realized I couldn't pay my house note, I had a picture of myself taken at a party and realized I have some belly-fat again, my corporation's parent company revealed that they had to freeze bonuses and insurance rejected my wife's medication.
In short, bring it on Friday the 13th! Jason, I'm ready for your ass!
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