Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Marcus Nispel
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Daniel Pearl
WRITERS: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
MUSIC: Steve Jablonsky, Pieter A. Schlosser
Naked girls? Yes. Cheesy Dialogue? Yes. Great “Friday the 13th” film? Far from it. Jason Voorhees returns in a remake of the 1980s classic. The cast is a bunch of original characters but they are influenced by characters seen in the past eleven films and the film acts as a remake to the first four films in the series.
The film takes a while to get to the point. Clay is the protagonist of the film and he is looking for his sister that disappeared six weeks ago. Along the way he meets the characters that will inevitably become fodder for the hockey masked psychopath.
When I walked into this film I expected the bad dialogue and the 2D characters that are a tradition of the series and I was fine with that. Jason looks great and the make-up team deserves major credit for their work. Beyond that, the film falls hard on its face.
The film starts with a quick scene of Jason’s mother (the killer in the original film) and how she got her head cut off. This acts more like a scene from a film that should have preceded this one. We then follow a group of characters that start to get hacked up right away and this makes you think the film is going to end in fifteen minutes.
If only wishing made it so.
It turns out that this is just the intro to the film before a big “Friday the 13th” title card hits the screen. We then follow a new set of teenagers and finally get introduced to Clay. The teenagers are your basic Voorhees prey. You have the funny guy, the asshole, the promiscuous women, and the pot heads.
Bad dialogue has always been a part of the series but the dialogue here is so bad that it does not even work for this series. An example of this is when one of the characters drops a gun in a small puddle and cannot seem to find it. He then shouts like a kid, “Where are you, gun,” as if the gun is just going to pop up out of the water and reply, “Here I am, you fucking idiot. Let’s go to work, friend!” And then they skip away together to find Jason. Anyway, it’s just fucking horrible.
Another thing that bothers me is the two things that piss me off in modern day films. Director Marcus Nispel (the director of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake) decides to utilize the shaky handycam technique. This has become the most clichéd thing to do in films and Nispel does not utilize it well.
You end up getting angry that the camera won’t stay still for five fucking minutes. The other problem is that they shoot so close to the actors when they are struggling with Jason that you can’t see what the hell is going on. This style is also used in many of today’s action films during fight sequences and, in my opinion, is a lazy way to get around actually choreographing a fight or, in this case, a kill.
This leads to my other problem with the film: the kills. The ones that are seen are lame as shit and the ones not seen feel like wasted opportunities. One example of kills seen off-screen is a remake of the classic moment where Mrs. Voorhees gets her head cut off. For those who may not have seen the original film, they actually show the head getting sliced off and her hands automatically reaching for where her severed head used to be. In this film, the camp counselor decapitates her off-screen and I feel cheated out of the moment.
The thing that made up for all of the bad dialogue and two dimensional characters in the past films was seeing how Jason would dispatch his prey. This film does not even try to bring anything new to the table. The kills are either really shitty or some cheap knock-off of something done in earlier films.
The final thing that pisses me off about this film is that I felt like I had watched a compact version of the first four “Friday the 13th” films. This is why I hate remakes in general. If the filmmakers are not going to try anything original to update the series for modern audiences, then they should not have even tried to do it in the first place.
I felt like I should have just saved my money and watched the original series at home for free. Remakes can work only if something new is tried. “Casino Royale” breathed new life into the Bond series by giving us a more serious and realistic Bond while “Batman Begins” made up for the travesty that is “Batman and Robin”. Here, I got nothing.
The only reason this film gets any points for is the nostalgia factor. It was good to see that the writers at least referenced Mrs. Voorhees and remembered the potato sack from the second film. In the end, though, this is another useless and unnecessary remake that does not deserve to be a part of this series.