“Friday the 13th”
At Showcase and Quality 16
2.5 out of 5 stars
“Friday the 13th” is part of a string of recent horror movie remakes, and out of all of them, this film is perhaps the least warranted. After all, “Freddy vs. Jason” — a stupid but memorable continuation of the original ’80s franchise — was released just six years ago. So what’s the point in starting the series all over again?
Nonetheless, this new effort is moderately entertaining. It’s not great, even in the context of the “Friday the 13th” series, but it’s not embarrassing, either. Ultimately, it’s a film for tried-and-true “Friday the 13th” fans. Everyone else will probably just shrug and forget about it as soon as it ends.
The plot is simplicity itself. A group of college students hike into a secluded forest region only to be stalked and killed by the hulking, deformed killer known as Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears, “The Hills Have Eyes II”). Then, in a brilliant twist, more college students show up and get killed off by Jason. And that’s about it as far as plot goes.
The film is certainly diverting, but even judged primarily by its merits as a slasher film, it feels somewhat tepid. Jason is menacing, the girls are attractive and the woods look suitably spooky. But the film just reeks of laziness, as if the filmmakers, knowing full well that audiences wouldn’t care about the plot, hashed out a script in a matter of days and started shooting without making any revisions.
Take the narrative structure, for example. The 20-minute-long prologue of the film, which introduces the audience to the first set of campers, is so satisfying in its blending of humor, atmosphere, tension and shocks that it’s impossible for the film to regain its footing when it shifts focus and introduces another set of soon-to-be-dead characters. What follows is essentially the same thing as the prologue, only at a much slower pace and with less likable actors.
It doesn’t help that there’s nobody to root for. While not entirely the fault of the actors (the writers deserve the most blame), the college students depicted in this film are perhaps the most pathetic, unlikable and downright stupid victims ever to grace a “Friday the 13th” film. And that’s saying a lot.
But the film’s biggest fault is its familiarity. At times “Friday the 13th” feels amusingly postmodern in its attempts to poke fun at the conventions of the sub-genre, but most of the time it seems content to merely tread the same ground as its predecessors. No one is going to see a film like this looking for high art, but even those just seeking a good slasher film might find this movie redundant and annoyingly derivative.
Still, “Friday the 13th” is what it is. Complaining about a film like this for being derivative is about as pointless as throwing the same criticism at a James Bond film. Ultimately, viewers come to these movies because of their familiarity. If that’s the case, this “Friday” is a minor winner, as it delivers everything the earlier movies did — mainly boobs and blood — in spades.
So, while not impressive — even as a slasher film — this remake is a decent time-waster, even if it can’t compare to its brethren from the ’80s.