Friday, 3 July 2009

Friday the 13th (2009)

They got the mask right at least.

I'm not particularly fond of horror production company Platinum Dunes, and not just because it's run by Michael fucking Bay. My main issue is that if you're remake a classic horror film then I think you should have something interesting to say or at least try for better execution. Some of the recent horror remakes I've liked (eg The Hills Have Eyes, Dawn of the Dead) and I appreciated that Rob Zombie's Halloween was trying to do something new and different even if I thought it wasn't entirely successful. In the case of Platinum Dunes, however, I think the remake angle is purely a business decision. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of my favourite horror films of all time and the remake completely missed the appeal of the original while bringing nothing new to the table. For the folks at Platinum Dunes, Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just a brand name that they can slap onto any old product and sell a few more tickets during the opening weekend.

Despite all that, I tried to keep an open mind with Friday the 13th. I don't hold the film in as high a regard as some other classic horror films and let's face it, most of the sequels are fucking awful. Here they kind of mash together the first three Friday the 13th films. I've talked about how stupid the plot is once you consider the timeline of the first few films and the way they handle it here only calls attention to that fact. The film picks up with Pamela Voorhees facing off against the last of the camp counselors she blames for her son's death. Jason is still alive however, and witnesses his mother's decapitation. This sends Jason into a state of revenge-fueled insanity and now he stalks Camp Crystal Lake looking for victims.

This is all recounted in a campfire story later by an ill-fated teen early in the film and if I were there listening I'd call it some retarded, illogical bullshit. These campers are here looking for a mysterious, hidden marijuana crop. This got me wondering if Jason tends to this crop himself as a way to lure teens onto his campground. Does Jason like to kick back with a joint and giggle at Adult Swim? The questions are endless. Anyway, about thirty minutes into the film all but one of the campers was dead, so I was wondering if they were really going to drag this Final Girl chase out for an hour. Well, it turns out that this bunch of teens were just the entree, we haven't even got the main course yet.

Our main victims are a bunch of teenagers headed out to Crystal Lake for a holiday full of sex and drugs. The alpha male of the group is Trent, a rich dickbag who drives around in an enormous black SUV, the official car of the dickbag. He is a complete asshole to a guy named Clay who is out looking for his missing sister (she was in the original group of unhappy campers) and you pretty much can't wait to see him die. Most of the other kids think he's an asshole too and are just using him for his awesome holiday house and boat.

There's also a black guy who seems to be aware he's the only black person in the whole film and a stereotype-breaking Asian dude who likes sports, drinks and smokes a shitload of weed. Unfortunately nobody thought to bring any ethnic girls for them to bang (if either of them fucked a white girl it would break the space-time continuum) so they are shit out of luck. After drooling over one of the girls the Asian dude remarks that he has "better chance of fucking a penguin", whatever that is supposed to mean, and the black guy is reduced to jerking off to a magazine photo of a fully-clothed girl with his friends right next door. Poor dudes. There's also a few other nondescript teens plus a few hillbilly stereotypes and a local cop played by Travis Davis (this generation's John Saxon).

While these characters are busy meeting a grisly fate, Trent's girl ends up befriending Clay and eventually romance blossoms. Clay, buddy, if a girl is with a douchebag like Trent it's because she likes douchebags. As soon as you steal her away she's going to get bored and leave you for the first guy who treats her like garbage. It's not worth it, man. Trent, meanwhile, immediately bangs one of the other girls, during which he says stuff like "you got perfect nipple placement baby" and "your tits are stupendous". Who says romance is dead? Although to be fair they are pretty stupendous. You see, they managed to find a bunch of actresses who were willing to doff their tops for a few cheap thrills, and I didn't think they existed anymore. Good going, guys.

Traditionally Jason has been an insane killing machine, murdering anybody he sees, but here Jason is far more methodical. I remember reading an interview with the filmmakers where they were talking about a leaner, smarter, more territorial Jason and referencing movies like Rambo. I was getting pretty excited. Unfortunately they don't take it very far. He sets traps, climbs walls and it looks like he's even put those camp archery targets to good use, but most of the time he just appears behind people and chops them with a machete, just like usual. The kills aren't anything spectacular either.

They've also added a pretty silly twist. You see, it turns out that Jason has dug out all these tunnels beneath the campsite and he has been keeping Clay's missing sister there for over a month. I don't know, I can't imagine Jason spending years digging away with a shovel like in The Great Escape. He's got a bunch of tripwires and alarms set up around the place so he can find people easily and apparently he uses these tunnels to travel around the campsite but I must have fallen asleep during that part. This would have been a good idea if there were some harrowing chase sequences, but there really isn't much of that either.

In the end Clay's sister manages to distract Jason like the girl in Friday the 13th Part 2, long enough for them to kill him, and this is the dumbest part of all. He's suspended in the mouth of a wood chipper, and rather than giving him a shove they stab him in the chest until the wood chipper takes a bite out of his head and supposedly kills him. Then, instead of calling the cops or going Fargo on his ass, they take his body out of the wood chipper and put it in the river. That is some of the dumbest, most half-assed sequel-setting-up bullshit I've even and I've seen all the other Friday the 13th films. I'd have to rate this as a middling Friday the 13th sequel. It's more competently made than many of them, but it's also more boring with fewer laughs.

1 comment:

The PAC Squad said...

Didn't they say something about the tunnels being left over from mining and bootlegging days, or some shit like that? Perhaps I'm just projecting . . .