Overclocked On Caffeine v.1.1 2009-10-31 10:08:00

Friday The 13th

1 hour 45 minutes

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…

As cheesy as they are, the big horror movies of the 80s have a certain charm to them. Cheesy as hell, outright stupid in places, but still always watchable. The Friday the 13th series, one of the biggest of the time, was arguably more serious than the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise – well, to begin with, at least – but it still had some moments of dumb fun before becoming outright silly in its final instalment, the downright hilarious Jason X. It’s probably worth mentioning that that was also my favourite entry in the series, a film comparable to Army of Darkness in terms of genre switch and sheer excellence. Since ‘reboots’ are the marketing buzzword of the week, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to do a more serious remake. The results are, predictably, less than great.

You all know the story: Jason Voorhees goes ballistic against a bunch of retarded horny teenagers. The film opens with a replay of the end of the first original film in the series, before skipping forward some years later. A group of teenagers are looking for the ultimate weed patch while on a camping trip. Within the space of the first 20 minutes, they’re all butchered mercilessly. We’re then introduced to a new bunch of teens, going to a plush woodland cabin for the weekend. Unfortunately, these guys last slightly longer, everyone resisting the temptation to off a new conveyor belt of idiots every 20 minutes.

(Incidentally, why hasn’t anyone done this in a movie yet? It’d be hilarious!)

This being a remake, there’s a slightly different take on the original concept: the idea of Jason going apeshit at a summer camp has been dropped, in favour of a more typical ‘house siege/running around the woods’-style story. Rather than the slaughter being spaced out evenly throughout the film, there’s one big blood orgy at the start, then pretty much nothing for about the next hour before the murders begin again in earnest. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the rest of the cast were even remotely likeable, but I haven’t wanted to see a bunch of idiot teens get ripped apart so badly since high school. There’s one guy, a stoner, who’s halfway cool, but, of course, he dies horribly. Jared Padalecki is probably the only person you’re likely to recognise, playing Clay, a guy looking for his sister, who was part of the group killed at the start. He’s also the only remotely sympathetic guy in the bunch, only emphasized by the fact that he’s pitted opposite Travis Van Winkle, playing, as Sir Laurence Olivier would put it, ‘a gigantic douche of no singular redeeming value’. Kudos to the guy for playing such an utterly convincing dick, but he doesn’t even get an interesting death, which highlights the other major problem of the film.

Let’s face it, you all watch these films for the same reasons: you want to see idiot people dying in fun and interesting ways. There’s no shame in it, that’s the primary draw of them, after all. But no, this is a Serious Reboot for Serious People. Can’t be having any of those wacky shenanigans here! So everyone gets offed in a variety of incredibly samey ways, every last one involving impalement or stabbing in some way or another. If you were one of those boring types who has to write a lengthy thesis or two on phallic imagery in modern cinematic blah de blah, you’d probably have a field day with this one. Me? I’ll be sitting over here, bored out my mind. And I still won’t be finding the film much more entertaining.

If there’s one thing the movie does right, it’s that there’s none of those knowing winks to camera. There’s a couple of musical cues that you might recognise, but other than that, it’s entirely fanservice free (if you don’t count the mandatory boobs, of course – this is the Extended Edition, after all). But really, I can’t remember the last time I saw a more boring movie, and that’s the last thing you want to say about any horror film. It counts double when you take into account that it’s based on a series that’s still popular nearly 30 years on. I don’t ask for much in my horror movies: I don’t mind if they don’t scare me, I don’t care if the effects look atrocious, but if they’re not entertaining, that’s an immediate fail right there, and Friday the 13th falls hard at that hurdle. Stick with the originals, kids, this isn’t worth your time.

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