Monday, February 16, 2009

Movies: Friday the 13th

As you might have guessed, I take horror movies pretty seriously. I grew up watching the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street series and all the other cheesy 80s slashers like Sleepaway Camp and Slumber Party Massacre. While nowadays I prefer psychological/supernatural horror flicks and zombie flicks, cheesy slashers will always hold a special place in my heart. Which is why I was apprehensive when I heard Michael Bay was re-making Friday the 13th. I wasn’t big into Transformers when I was a kid – my 80s baby memories are more defined by My Little Pony and She-Ra – so I wasn’t devastated the way some of my guy friends were by his hulking, messy crapheap of a movie adaptation. But Friday the 13th is something you just don’t mess with as far as I’m concerned. My friends and I even took a road trip one dark night to the Boy Scout camp that served as the filming location for the first movie. Which is why I’m relieved to say that the new Friday the 13th not only assuaged all my fears – it wildly exceeded all of my expectations.

Part reboot, part sequel, Friday the 13th dives right into the hack-and-slash terror with little preamble, which is exactly what you need for a movie like this. One group of unlucky campers is served up and sliced before the opening credits, after which a second set of campers rolls in and, well, you can guess what happens next.

This movie doesn’t reinvent the slasher wheel, it just freshens it up. Jason still plods along, dispatching pretty young things left and right. But there are several improvements on the 80s model. Director Marcus Nispel keeps the action tight with few narrative lags, and even when you know a kill is coming up, he keeps the tension going. And writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift have delivered a crackling screenplay, filled with hilarious and true-feeling dialogue that will finally allow you to watch a slasher flick and cringe only at the copious amounts of blood, not the corny conversation. It’s well-acted, too. Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, and Amanda Righetti do a good job of carrying the movie, while Aaron Yoo and Arlen Escarpeta provide some great moments of comic relief.

You don’t have to be a Friday the 13th fanatic to enjoy the movie, it gives newcomers a quick nutshell summary close to the beginning, but if you are a fan of the older movies you’ll be pleased to spot several references to the first few installments. You know, the good ones, before Jason went to Manhattan and Hell and faced off against Freddie. If you’re only going to see one remake of an 80s slasher film this month, Friday the 13th is definitely the hands-down winner over My Bloody Valentine.


Sex Mahoney for President said...

Correction. My Bloody Valentine 3D.

I watched the new Friday the 13th movie with my brother last night. I didn't like Jason the pot growing tunnel dweller, but everything else was fine.

smd said...

Oh yes, 3D...I forget, having seen it in the technologically-lame New Jersey. I won't make that mistake with Coraline 3D!

But yeah, Jason definitely wasn't perfect...he moved too fast and seemed a little too cunning. But I was happy to see they can still make effective slashers.