, 97 min, 2009
Director: Marcus Nispel
Writers: Damian Shannon (screenplay) & Mark Swift (screenplay), Damian Shannon (story) & Mark Swift (story) and Mark Wheaton (story), Victor Miller (characters)
Stars: Jared Padalecki, Amanda Righetti, Derek Mears
Has there ever, in the history of cinema, been such an iconic character as thanklessly portrayed as Jason Voorhees in the Friday the 13th franchise? Halloween‘s Michael Myers leaps to mind. At least Robert Englund’s Freddy Kruger (Nightmare on Elm Street, etc.) had a personality and a point of view – however repetitive and formulaic it may have become. After all, how much personality and individuality can you exude whilst wearing a hockey mask, hulking around and silently killing loads and loads of teenage campers? This question is just one of the things that occurred to me during and after watching Marcus Nispel’s 2009 “reimagining” of Friday the 13th. The answer: none.
The original Friday the 13th (a.k.a. Paraskavedekatriaphobia) came into the world in 1980 thanks (or no thanks) to director Sean S. Cunningham and screenwriter Victor Miller. It concerned a number of kids (including a pre-fame Kevin Bacon!) going out to Camp Crystal Lake to reopen a camp that was closed there after a tragic accident. Apparently, years earlier, young Jason Voorhees was swimming in the lake and the counselors were too busy having sex and doing drugs to notice. Jason drowned, and his mother Mrs. Voorhees returned to the camp to wreak revenge on the innocent camp counselors who weren’t even there when Jason died.
This backstory is hinted at in the 2009 version’s 20-minute pre-credit sequence. However, this one has its own “plot”: Trent (Travis Van Winkle) is a rich “Preppy” (ala’ Zack from TV’s Saved by the Bell) who has invited a number of seemingly economically equal pals out to his lake house for the weekend. On their way to the lake, they come across the sullen worrywart Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki of TV’s Supernatural and Gilmore Girls), who is in the area searching for his missing sister. Meanwhile, a mysterious, large, hulking figure in a hockey mask is going around killing people one by one. Is this Jason? How did he drown as a kid (and presumably die) but grow up to be such a frighteningly large and seemingly unstoppable force? Shouldn’t such questions be moot points in a movie like this?
This modern reboot of the Jason Voorhees saga comes from producer Michael Bay and director Marcus Nispel. These two are no strangers to horror remakes/re-imaginings – they did the same thing in 2003 with Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Like that film, this is a stylish and well-produced piece of utter schlock. The entire point seems to be to see how many young kids Jason can kill in increasingly gruesome and horrifically violent ways (though the bloodletting seems surprisingly tame for a modern R-rated horror movie). If this sounds like an entertaining time at the movies to you, then please be my guest.
Note: The “killer cut” extended edition is rated R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, nudity, language and drug material and runs 106 min.