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Friday the Thirteenth (2009)

dir: Marcus Nispel
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There are remakes that are pointless. Remakes that are insults to human dignity. Remakes that just make you wish a nuclear war would wipe out the world so that you wouldn’t have to watch any more crappy flicks ever again. It would be a small price to pay.

And then there are remakes of crap horror flicks, which are just as crap as their origins, which it’s hard to get angry at.

Shit repackaged as another form of shit, when you know it’s shit, can’t really surprise you. It doesn’t have that power.

I don’t care what classic horror buffs think about the original Friday the 13th series: they were crap, whether the first or the four hundredth movie in the franchise. They achieved then and have maintained since a cheap notoriety far in excess of the actual artistic or frightful merits of the actual productions. Most film critics and social pop cultural commentator-types point to them as a barometer of the political and ideological landscape of their era: that being the Reagan era of conservatism for which the protagonists, being generally teenagers, are punished for drug and alcohol use and for having sex by the wordless and faceless Jason. Clad generally in his tasteful but elegant rags and hockey-mask, the unstoppable killing machine mows his way through swathes of people whose purpose is solely to die, until an ending where he looks like he’s finally bought the farm, only to come back again and again.

I find it fucking tiresome, and pointless, generally to watch a movie whose sequences I can predict just by hearing the franchise title. I don’t get off on watching people being killed, so when I know it’s just going to be nearly two hours of the same crap, done so mechanically, I have little to be interested in.

At the very least, considering the recent rash of ‘classic’ horror remakes, the rare one that does anything right (I’m one of the few people who thinks this, but the first of the Texas Chainsaw remakes wasn’t completely worthless in my anything but humble opinion) is the one that references its origins well enough not to be bound to or by them, and by achieving a tone and mood consistent with what the initial ones were going for.

All Friday the 13th has is dull signatures shared by most of the horror flicks of the era, with very little else to set it apart, except for that ‘sha sha sha’ sound, which anyone who’s ever watched one of these dire flicks recognises instantly. Even the original flick was a ripoff itself, being a fairly blatant cash-in on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

It doesn’t matter. All this back story front loads the review, making it look like the flick is more important than it actually is. It doesn’t matter if they re-jig Jason’s origin story. It doesn’t matter if there are characters in or around Crystal Lake, and whether they’re using drugs or having energetic pre-marital sex. It doesn’t matter if they have beliefs, and feelings about stuff and the world, and it doesn’t matter what their opinions are on America’s various wars or universal health care or anything else for that matter. All will die beneath this grim reaper’s machete.

I generally watch horror flicks, when I can be bothered watching them, for their discomfort, for their disturbing ambience, and for their capability to thrill and shock. I never watch them in order to feel depressed. The depression springs from watching something go through the motions in a perfunctory manner, as if it and the people making it really don’t really want to be there, because they could be at home folding laundry or grouting tiles or clipping toenails.

No-one likes feeling obligated, but everything about all of this feels so pointlessly obligatory. It never achieves the level of terror that would seem to justify the expense, it doesn’t relish the clichés of its own leit motifs, and it barely has any sense of its own ridiculousness, or any sense of humour about itself. And, this will probably seem utterly ridiculous to most of you, but the thing I find funniest / strangest about the whole scenario is that the protagonists / kill fodder have never seen either a) any horror flicks ever, or b) any Friday the 13th movies. If they had, they’d never do half of the stupid shit they do on their short trek towards the grave.

The movie opens with a strange retelling of the events of the first flick, positing as it does a different way in which Mrs Voorhees buys the farm, and a different way that Jason becomes Jason. Then there’s about a 25 minute sequence which is one of the longest intros I’ve ever seen, which actually surprised me only in that when the blood red letters spelling out the title appeared at the end of it, I thought (and hoped) that maybe it was the end of the entire film already.

Shame, damn shame. The obligatory group of teenagers / early twenties bland ciphers wandering around dispatched early on are replaced with another group of bland ciphers wandering around just waiting for Jason to kill them already. They are, eventually, joined by the one ‘cool’ guy on a motorbike (Jared Padalecki), complete with his working class griminess, who’s looking for his sister, presumably dead from the opening reel.

Describing anything else that might happen, or not happen, is probably pointless by now. Jason wanders around killing people with great ease. He can appear anywhere at any time, and nothing anyone does against him matters. The order in which people are disposed of depends on when they drink, consume booze or have sex. If you were getting a blowjob and drinking a shot of whisky whilst smoking a joint Jason would probably appear out of thin air like a genie and kill you instantly.

But so what? Who the fuck does this Jason creep think he is anyway? Why should we care that this mindless thing trudges around killing anything and everyone with no real purpose or justification. There was only one person in the whole movie who really “deserved” it (within the context of what justifies being butchered in these retarded flicks), and he’s an actor of such swinish arrogance that the actor portraying him is called Trent Van Winkle. Not the character’s name. The actor’s name. If ever a man was born to play an entitled fratboy…

Every line of dialogue spoken by this premiere power tool (bar one) made me wish for Jason’s machete to appear disembodied out of nowhere to end his screen time. The rest of the cast, whilst annoying, don’t seem to ‘earn’ their deaths as much as this guy. He is involved in the second sex scene which fills up a surprising amount of time with another character called Bree. Bree? That’s a cheese, innit?

Her only claim to fame is that she possesses a stupendous set of natural breasts prominently displayed and remarked upon by the previously mentioned fratboy. She doesn’t, alas, fair any better than the girl with the implants who Jason kills in the movie’s opening, so it isn’t clear whether Jason is a fan of natural versus implants, or whether it plays any part in his deeply complex psychology.

It’s dull, it’s a drudge, the tension just isn’t there, and mostly it’s just a dispiriting exercise in futility that only has one place to go. It is virtually and pointlessly indistinguishable from every other horror remake that has been inflicted upon us over the last five or so years, to the point where I was forgetting which one I was watching. It even looked like they used the same sets from Hills Have Eyes, My Bloody Valentine, Chainsaw et al, and Jason is as blank and pointless as ever.

Avoid, unless you’re one of those desperately pathetic people who hires or buys horror flicks for stroke material, in which case, have at it, sick puppies.

3 times all Jason really needs is a hug from another Jason out of 10

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“Say hello to mommy, in HELL!” – Friday the Thirteenth (2009)

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