Much like Rob Zombie’s quite excellent version of Halloween, the latest installment in the Friday the 13th franchise has been billed as a remake of the 1980 slashtastic original. The problem with that is, in the original flick, Jason’s mom did all the killing. Fast forward to 2009 and nobody wants her cockblocking their quality time with her son. Other than a brief re-enactment of that iconic scene where she gets her head flown with a machete, which comes right at the beginning of this film, momma Voorhees mostly sits the bench this time around. So technically, this is more like a remake of Friday the 13th Part 2, but for the people behind the film to admit that would just be stupid. But questionable remake status doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time.
Just like with any slasher film, Friday the 13th is far from a master class in quality acting. There are no real “stars” to speak of, unless you count Willa Ford or the goofy Asian kid from Disturbia, which you absolutely should not. It relies heavily on slasher film clichès, but why the hell wouldn’t it? Some of the scenes require shaky logic to work, like when we learn that goalie masks might be fine for deflecting high velocity hockey pucks but they are no defense against the force of a kick from a malnourished young woman. If technicalities like these bother you, this definitely is not the movie for you.
Fans of slasher flicks certainly won’t be disappointed with the pace of the film. After the opening machete beheading, we’re treated to a high speed camping party massacre taking no less than five horny young lives (or so we’re led to believe). This all happens before the name of the film even makes its way to the screen. After that, things slow down a bit, giving the viewer time to sort out who they hope will die first (the douchebag in the convenience store), who they absolutely know is not going to die (the hero on the motorcycle… and don’t pretend like that’s a spoiler) and who they hope to see slaughtered while topless (Willa Ford, obviously). It’s a slasher flick, we all play that game before the action unfolds. Once those issues are sorted out, there is no shortage of gory action.
It’s hard to watch a film like Friday the 13th without seeing it as some kind of thinly veiled morality tale. Smoke weed, you die. Have premarital sex, you die. Bring your urban ass to the country and disturb the simple way of life, you die. Stumble upon the cabin of a deranged killer you just heard a story about who has filled his home with trinkets commemorating his life but for some reason has no souvenirs from his trip to Manhattan and you fail to flee the scene immediately, you’re an idiot who deserves to die. Time and again throughout the movie, no act of stress relief or relaxation goes unpunished. But that’s just how slasher flicks do. Would you really wish to have it any other way? Friday the 13th never pretends to be anything other than what it is – a kind of shitty movie that is still pretty entertaining. It’s a fine enough return to form for a long ailing franchise.
Friday the 13th is in theaters now…