- Rated R
- Buy the Blu-ray
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by David Medsker
t appears that Michael Bay has tired of raping and killing horror movie cornerstones from yesteryear ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," "The Amityville Horror," "The Hitcher"), and now prefers to knife them in an alley and steal their shoes. Perhaps he feels it’s more sporting that way. Whatever the case, Bay’s recent production, a remake of “Friday the 13th,” is not as unbearable as it could have been. It isn’t good, mind you, but it has what every gore hound is jonesing for: boobs, blunts and blood. It doesn’t deliver anything resembling suspense, but that’s not really the point, is it?
The story begins in 1980 at the end of the first Crystal Lake massacre, as Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor) is about to dispatch the last camp counselor she holds responsible for the death of her son Jason. The last counselor kills Mrs. Voorhees, and surprise! Jason wasn’t dead after all, and in fact watched the counselor kill his mother. Fast-forward to the present, where a bunch of opportunistic stoners and their girlfriends happen upon the now-deserted campground and suffer the bag-faced Jason’s wrath. Six weeks later a group of kids descend upon the other side of Crystal Lake to party at a friend’s lake house, while Clay (Jared Padalecki) is searching for his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was part of the stoner group.
Give them credit for a substantial kills-per-minute ratio (one guess how many characters die), pushing the title screen until after the first group is wiped out. The problem is that with only a couple exceptions, the deaths, while loaded with references to the original series, are artless and even businesslike. Jump through a window here, pop up behind a curtain there, slash, dead. Hard to believe someone as lumbering as a deformed serial killer – with no peripheral vision, thanks to the hockey mask – could possess such ninja stealth, but again, that’s not really the point.
The acting…what do you say about the acting? They’re all just generic personality types. You have the douche bag whose parents own the lake house (he also gets the movie’s biggest laugh, in a good way), the level-headed girlfriend, the “stupendous” slutty best friend, the clown, the horny clown, and the stoner. (This also describes everyone in the first group.) There is no reason to get attached to any of them, which is why I’m not even bothering to list the actors’ names. They’re just meat. Marcus Nispel’s direction adds nothing new to the genre, from the frequent use of flashlights to the unnecessary zooms to the between-the-boards shots. Bonus points, though, for the Carpenter-esque, old-school horror music in the beginning.
You have to take movies like “Friday the 13th” for what they are, which can be trying for someone who sees movies for a living. But let’s make one thing painfully clear: critics don’t pan these movies because they’re film snobs – well, some do, but that’s not my reason – they pan them because they’re basically lazy and unimaginative. Insert a couple surprising bits, flash boobies, roll credits. It may not make for great moviemaking, but it’s quite Zen, when you think about it.
Special Edition Blu-Ray Review:
Fans will probably wish that Jason would take a machete to the heads of the producers after seeing what little bonus material has been included on the DVD release, but luckily, Blu-ray owners get a whole lot more. In addition to the brief making-of featurette (“The Rebirth of Jason Voorhees) and deleted scenes that appear on the DVD, the Blu-ray version also boasts an additional featurette about the similarities between the first three films and the reboot (“Hacking Back/Slashing Forward”), as well as a picture-in-picture video track featuring trivia and behind-the-scenes footage. The real highlight of the set, however, is “The 7 Best Kills,” a 22-minute featurette that dives deeper into how director Marcus Nispel created the film’s most memorable kill sequences.