On Friday June 13th, 1980, Mrs. Pamela Voorhees killed seven counselors at Camp Crystal Lake in revenge because she blamed them for her son Jason drowning. That same night, the last counselor alive cut Mrs. Voorhees' head off with a machete as Jason (who apparently didn't drown) watches from a close distance. We skip to the present day where a group of pot smoking and perverted college friends consisting of Wade, Richie, Amanda, Mike, and Whitney are camping out in search of some rare marijuana that supposedly grows around Crystal Lake. That night, Wade tells the legend of Jason Voorhees. Soon, these care free friends are killed by a burlap sack masked Jason. TITLE CARD 23 minutes into the movie. We then skip six weeks later where rich asshole Trent and his friends (Jenna, Bree, Chelsea, Nolan, Chewie, and Lawrence) are spending the weekend at his Dad's lake house. They plan to be totally care free with sex, topless water sports, beer, and of course some marijuana. Later, they meet a guy named Clay who is searching for his missing sister Whitney, who disappeared six weeks back. The only person willing to help Clay in his search is Jenna. One by one, they are killed by a now hockey masked Jason who doesn't take kindly to people trespassing around his home.
In 1980, a little slasher film was released by Paramount Pictures titled Friday The 13th. The film was a huge success because it pretty much imitated Halloween except had the location at a secluded summer camp and consisted of over the top murders. At the time, mainstream audiences had never seen anything like it before. Before 1980, movies of this caliber were done totally independent and didn't receive much attention except for John Carpenter's Halloween. The massive success of Friday The 13th sent the horror genre's popularity way the hell up and other studios began to pitch in, creating what is now known as the slasher film. These films were very cheap to make and basically guaranteed your film to make a lot of money. Friday The 13th spawned seven sequels throughout the '80s. The slasher film trend began to tire itself out in the late '80s and into the mid '90s. After the eighth installment, Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan, bombed at the box office in 1989, Paramount Pictures sold the rights back to Sean S. Cunningham. New Line Cinema bought the rights from Cunningham and released Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday in 1993, hoping to finally make a Freddy VS. Jason movie happen next. In 1996, Miramax released the box office hit Scream that breathed new life back into a worn out genre by poking fun at the slasher film as well as casting famous actors.
The late '90s and early '00s brought on Scream-like slasher films starring actors from television, hoping to make it into movies to further their careers. New Line released Jason X into theaters in 2001 that placed Jason 400 years into the future and in space so that it wouldn't screw up the possibility of a Freddy VS. Jason movie. In 2003, New Line finally found the right script and cast/crew to make Freddy VS. Jason happen after all these years. Freddy VS. Jason was released to theaters everywhere in the late summer of 2003. Fans of both franchises (myself included) flocked to the nearest theater on opening night to see our favorite '80s slashers not only kill teenagers, but try to slash each other as well. Freddy VS. Jason was a huge success, doing major box office cash for both franchises. Talk soon arose for a sequel as well as other match ups. We had rumors of Michael Myers VS. Pinhead, Chucky VS. Leprechaun, Leatherface and the Sawyers VS. Papa Jupitor and the hills family, and even a Freddy VS. Jason VS. Ash possibility. Sadly though, none of these happened.
Michael Bay who is best known for his action movies (Bad Boys, The Rock, Transformers, etc.) began a small production company called Platinum Dunes. I can hear you all sighing now. But yes, THAT Platinum Dunes. Anyways, Bay claims that his small company consisting of himself and partners Brad Fuller and Andrew Form are to help first time directors break out into feature films. BUT, what Platinum Dunes is known for is horror remakes. They find whatever they can get the rights to and remake it. Now, I'm not talking small unknown horror films, but big name franchises as well that don't need a remake and are stand alone classics.
In the Fall of 2003, Platinum Dunes released their first remake, which was for Tobe Hooper's 1974 classic masterpiece The Texas Chainsaw Massacre starring big names like Jessica Biel. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) did majorly well at the box office, beating out the grossing of the original four films. Platinum Dunes released their remake for The Amityville Horror (their best remake in my opinion) in the Spring of 2005 starring Ryan Reynolds. Again, the film was a huge success. Much like how Hollywood was with slashers and sequels back in the '80s, they took notice of how successful these remakes of old school horror films were at the box office. So, the remake trend kicked off leaving no original film safe from a re-imagining. By cashing in on these big name titles, studios could garner a lot of cash from teenagers that wanted to see them.
And now we have Platinum Dunes' 2009 reboot of Friday The 13th. Since New Line Cinema only owned the characters of Jason and his mother, Camp Crystal Lake, and the hockey mask, they had to find some way to get Paramount Pictures on board to use just the title " Friday The 13th". Platinum Dunes somehow convinced Paramount Pictures ($$$) to co-produce the reboot along with New Line. Was Friday The 13th (2009) a needed reboot? Not exactly as I would have loved to have seen what would have happened after Freddy VS. Jason. But, was this a good reboot of the classic slasher saga? If by good, you mean entertaining and fun then yes.
I will start by saying that of the horror genre that Friday The 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are my all time favorite horror film franchises. Why? Because while they can be intense, they are so simplistic and fun. When I got into my teenage years, I took a fascination with the backwoods horror genre and these two franchises are the best of that subgenre. Plus, they are so simple to follow. With The Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, you have a group of young people traveling through Texas and their vehicle either wrecks, dies, or they just run out of gas. They go to seek help and fall victims to a backwoods farm family with usually the final girl being chased through the long dark forrest by Leatherface with a chainsaw. The family cannibalizes the girl's friends and usually ends with the girl getting away half sane. Only thing that changes really are the victims and the family members except for of course Leatherface and usually the decrepit grandfather. In Friday The 13th's case, a group of teenagers/counselors go to Crystal Lake to party by having sex, getting stoned, getting drunk, and getting slaughtered by Jason Voorhees, who wears his trade mark hockey mask and prefers a machete as his weapon of choice. By having such a simple formula to follow, it makes it much easier to bring Jason and Leatherface back to stalk and kill teenagers for generations to come unlike the Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street franchises that have a more complex story with specific characters they have to have. It's harder to make sequels that star Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger than it is to continue the legacy of Jason Voorhees and Leatherface. Where the Friday The 13th films had a new Crystal Lake adventure every year back during the '80s with only one film in the early '90s and three films during the '00s, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre series has basically had only one film every 10 years.
With that all said, I was one of the few horror fans who was not pissed about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being remade in 2003 or Friday The 13th getting the reboot treatment in 2009. Let's be honest here, once you get passed the re-telling of the origin story where Mrs. Voorhees is decapitated and of course Jason receiving his iconic hockey mask, this film is just another Friday The 13th film. The screenplay written by Freddy VS. Jason scribes Mark Swift and Damian Shannon is not as juicy as their Freddy VS. Jason script, but still manages to be interesting by bringing back the old yet managing to give a little bit of a new spin on Jason Voorhees as a character. The Jason Voorhees in this film is pretty damn cool. I love it where he sets traps, is always several steps ahead of the victims, and is basically just killing because he wants to be left alone. I love how Jason is more territorial in this film basically playing the Kevin McCallister card by setting traps for the horny intruders, but unlike Home Alone, these intruders get sliced, diced, and murdered!
The victims are your standard Friday victims. But, this time we get two very different sets of victims. The first batch who get killed by Jason at the beginning while he is wearing his burlap sack mask, which looks fucking badass by the way, are basically the bait to reel us in for the main course. Of course like most appetizers, they usually taste better than the actual feast. The first batch of victims are pretty silly pot smoking dumbasses, but I couldn't help but to laugh at some of them especially the Wade and Richie characters. Richie had I shit you not some of the best lines in this movie...
"I'm not going out there with a boner."
" Fuck it, let the perve watch."
"Wade, if you are out there jacking off man, that is not cool!"
"Wade! If you jump out from behind a tree, I'm gonna punch you in your face!"
Yes, the victims are a lot more sleazy than what one is used to seeing in a Friday The 13th movie, but the perverted humor made the film really enjoyable when the kills or sex weren't going on. Basically Swift and Shannon heightened the partying, sex, and boobs for this film, which I enjoyed a lot. The second group of kids were pretty fun to watch too especially the stoner pals Lawrence and Chewie. Trent was the stereotypical douchebag you expect to see in a movie like this and are cheering when he does get it. I do love how he invites all his friends over yet won't let them touch anything. Bree was hands down the hottest chick in this movie. She had hands down the best set of knockers that I've ever seen in a Friday The 13th film since that chick from Part V: A New Beginning. This girl was smokin' hot and Trent is one lucky evil bastard to get to bang her! Jenna is your typical final girl character, the same with Whitney from the first group of victims. Clay is basically like the Rob character from The Final Chapter who is looking for his sister. Chelsea and Nolan were the usual wild couple that gets killed around the same time. Donny, who was the redneck pot farmer was kinda funny and annoying at the same time. Typical character in a slasher flick. There's also the cop who doesn't really do anything except tell Clay that they have stopped looking for his sister and gets killed by Jason. We also get a Crazy Ralph esque local lady who warns Clay to stay away from Crystal Lake. All in all, the victims are pretty much the kinda characters you come to expect in slashers.
And now for what is usually the highlight of these Friday The 13th films, the kills. The kills in Friday The 13th (2009) are pretty standard Friday kills. Some we've seen before and others are actually pretty twisted and exciting. The best one is that of Amanda where Jason drags her out of her tent in her sleeping bag and hangs her sleeping bag with her trapped inside over the campfire as she is roasted like a fucking marshmellow. One guy gets a machete through the head and Jason does this cool thing where he kicks the dude in the face to get the machete out. A girl gets a machete through her head while hiding under the dock and Jason lifts her body up to show her boobs one last time before pulling the machete out, causing her body to drop back into the water. I don't care if it is impossible, it looked awesome! There's a cool scene where Jason keeps ramming his machete through the floorboards as a guy is trying to get off the floor. A dude gets shot through the head with an arrow while operating a boat. We get a great fire poker through the eyeball. Some guy gets a screwdriver through his throat. Someone gets hit in the back with an axe and then Jason flips the person over where the blade goes through his chest. And a guy gets impaled, moved back and forth on the machete before Jason pulls the guy off and impales him on the back of a moving truck. All in all, while the kills could have been a lot more over the top and gory, they kept me content.
I do have my problems with this reboot though. First off, the shaky cam and constant lens flares kinda took me out of the film. Not a fan of the new Mrs. Voorhees. They probably couldn't get Betsy Palmer to reprise the role for this small scene, but they could have had a better actress play her than the one they got. I did like that the opening was shot in black and white, but the shaky cam ruined the decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees. Also, it would have been awesome if they had set the film in the 1980s. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake/prequel and The Amityville Horror remake were both set in the 1970s, which is when the original films came out and when they took place. It would have been fun to have seen the victims dressed in '80s clothing with '80s hairstyles, and had a rocking '80s soundtrack like Jason Lives had! But, the only part that took place in the '80s was the 3 minute opening scene where Mrs. Voorhees gets beheaded while trying to kill a really hot camp counselor. Oh well. The title card appearing 23 minutes into the film was pretty hilarious. I remember everybody laughing when that happened. Should have used it after Mrs. Voorhees was killed. The kills were pretty standard like I mentioned with the exception of a few wowzers. Could have used more blood and gore. After all, it is a Friday The 13th film, not a Halloween film. Many complained that this film looked a lot like Platinum Dunes' The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and prequel. While it did probably due to the fact that it was shot and directed by the same guys who did the Texas Chainsaw remake, this didn't bother me. I liked that dirty and raw look. There was a scene that reminded me of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning where Jason looks in a broken mirror after putting on the hockey mask for the first time. I do wish that one of the two batches of victims had been camp counselors readying the camp up after the evnts that took place in 1980, but then Jason begins to kill them all. Instead, it feels more like a more perverted and updated version of the victims from The New Blood and The Final Chapter. One of the biggest complaints that fans (myself included) had with Friday The 13th (2009) is that Jason actually holds a girl prisoner. Even more, the girl escapes, finds herself at Trent's lake house, and then Jason catches her and puts her back in chains. It reminded me of Strangeland when Captain Howdy re-kidnapped a girl after getting released from the mental hospital. It just felt so out of place. I could see Freddy doing this and slowly torturing her, but Jason, Jason would have just killed her. Okay, okay. I get that she reminds him of his late mother, but still. It didn't work for me here. Jason should have just killed her off in my opinion. Many complained about the whole mining lair that Jason had and that it actually had lights in it. I think the lights were still there back when it used to be a mine shaft. One misconception I think people have about Jason is that he is mentally disabled. Just because the man is horribly deformed and doesn't talk doesn't mean he is stupid by any means. Leatherface is mentally challenged, yes, but not Jason. Although, I can understand why people think he is with him being a momma's boy and all.
The music by Steve Jablonsky who does all of Platinum Dunes' music scores was okay. I prefer Harry Manfredini's iconic score. Plus, we should have gotten way more "KI KI KI MA MA MA". I only heard it like maybe 4 or 5 times tops. The ending is a typical Friday The 13th ending.
The direction by Marcus Nispel was okay. Not as good as his direction on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, but probably a Hell of a lot better than Pathfinder, which I've heard nothing but awful things about. My problem with Nispel though is he tones down the blood and gore in movies that require lots of carnage. I do like the gritty and dirty look of both this film and his Texas Chainsaw film. I do wish that he didn't have so many shaky cam parts and so many lens flares. Not too bad, but I would have preferred Jonathan Liebsman who directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning who delivered on the gore part. I do love the homages to the first four films. The decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees from Part 1, the burlap sack Jason and a wheelchair in his underground lair like in Part 2, a barn and him getting the hockey mask from Part 3, and a group of friends staying in a house while a guy looks for his sister in The Final Chapter.
The acting was pretty good for the most part. Jared Padalecki was great as Clay. Danielle Panabaker was cute and very likeable as Jenna. Travis Van Winkle had the stereotypical douchebag down perfectly as Trent. Amanda Righetti was good as Whitney. Arlen Escarpeta was good as the token black guy Lawrence. Aaron Yoo was hilarious as Chewie. Julianna Guill was smokin' fucking hot and had awesome knockers as Bree! Willa Ford looked pretty hot, went water skiing topless, and died as Chelsea. Ryan Hansen had a pretty amusing death as Nolan. Nick Mennell who also played Bob in Rob Zombie's Halloween gets killed by that other horror icon as Mike. America Olivo got burned as Amanda. Ben Feldman and Jonathan Sadowski cracked me up as Richie and Wade. Kyle Davis from that awful The Hitcher remake was both amusing and annoying as Donny the pot farmer. Richard Burgi was okay as Officer Bracke, but no Sheriff Garris. Nana Vistor was horrible as Mrs. Voorhees. And Derek Mears was absolutely awesome as Jason Voorhees. While Kane Hodder, C.J. Graham, and Ted White are my personal favorites, Mears made Jason a fucking badass and I loved every second of seeing this man on screen picking off today's youth!
Overall, Friday The 13th (2009) may not be a warranted reboot, but it did entertain and I had fun watching it. Platinum Dunes has had a pretty mixed bag of remakes/reboots under their helm. Both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre films were good, Amityville Horror was awesome and way better than the original yet not as good as Amityville II: The Possession, The Hitcher was a really bad carbon copy just about of the classic 1985 Rutger Haur/C. Thomas Howell thriller, and A Nightmare On Elm Street was a pretty mixed bag. Friday The 13th though was an enjoyable back to basics reboot and is a guilty pleasure of mine. I know many who hate it or are stuck on the fence, but I enjoy it as another day at Crystal Lake. It's funny that people keep saying that this film didn't do anything new or original, yet they hate Jason Goes To Hell and Jason X who did something totally different. I guess you can't win some times. Anyways, I hope we get another Friday The 13th film. Possibly that one that takes place in snow that I've heard rumors of. Please New Line/Paramount, please bring Jason back to kill more stereotypical care free teens!