There’s an issue at the heart of the Friday the 13th remake which doomed it from the start. It’s not the only issue but it’s so damn noticeable that it cuts deeper than a machete swung by a buff psychopath with mommy issues. That’s not to say it’s a bad flick, I happen to enjoy it quite a bit. I saw it three times in theaters, that’s only two times less than the transcendent Jason X…but there’ll be more on that at a later date.
Anyways, if a film is being remade there are a few factors at play. Most importantly, there is only one rule for the viewer and it’s impossible to follow if you’re already going in prepared to hate something. If that’s how you go into any form of entertainment, you’re doing it wrong and you are an idiot. There’s a lot of hollowed ground when it comes to us horror film lovers. I grew up on Jason but still managed to go in not really giving a damn, after all, why is it so bad to see a different creator tackle someone else’s work? Hell, Carpenter’s Halloween is a bonafide masterpiece but I was willing to suppress any judgement when going to see the remake. Granted, afterwards I wasn’t that happy because Rob Zombie took a dump on the horror genre and filled it with more cameos than a season of family guy with the hope that you wouldn’t notice how much of a turd it was. All I’m saying is wait to judge something till after you see it. It makes movie watching far more enjoyable.
Now, it’s not just your responsibility because if a filmmaker can’t hold up their end of the bargain then that’s on them. They’re remaking a film because A) they want to hit on the theme of the original but wrap it up in a different package, B) they want to update something to reflect the current sociological/political/any of the als climate, C) they want to fix mistakes in the inspiration and you can rest assured it all comes with a different emphasis placed upon D) just how much money there is to be made. I’m not saying you have to stand strong in any of these reasons, as I’m bloody well sure mixtures of these variables are all at play but this is why familiar sources are mined. The problem with Marcus Nispel’s Friday the 13th is that it presents a refreshing variation on the familiar boogeyman but spends way too much time fan servicing the franchise faithful to do a damn thing with it.
Young Jason witnesses the decapitation of his mother back in 1980. After this very brief scene we jump ahead twenty years or so to a group of sexy young people camping near the sight of the decades old awfulness. Rumors of a pot farm has made Camp Crystal Lake the destination of this gaggle of idiots. When two leave to explore the ruins of the campground, the single one of the bunch goes off wandering to leave the other couple to get their sex on at the campsite. He stumbles upon the marijuana surplus and immediately meets the business end of Jason Vorhees’ trusty machete (the same one used to kill his momma). Jason dispatches the others except for one young woman who kind of resembles his dead mommy. We jump once more in time to six weeks later. A group of more attractive idiots are off to stay at head idiot’s lakefront family cabin. We also meet Clay Millar (Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki) who is traveling around town trying to dig up any hint as to where his missing sister is.
Clay has a run in with Trent (the head idiot) and because douchbags are gonna douche, they almost come to blows. Luckily Trent’s sympathetic girlfriend Jenna manages to calm things down before it escalates beyond some snarky comments. Clay goes off to search some more and the group of friends head off for some beer, drugs and sex. Eventually Clay finds himself at the door of Trent’s house and although Jenna attempts to be as helpful as she can, that old dickhole Trent is having none of it. These leads to a pissed off Jenna heading out with Clay to help him search for his sister. They come across the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake and the bulky homicidal maniac that calls it home.
There’s several revelations that come to light as the snooping duo make their escape. First, Jason has built some sort of underground tunnel system spiderwebbed all over the stretch of land that is Camp Crystal Lake and he has it rigged with trip wires and bells. Second, and most important, Clay’s sister is still alive and being held captive by the lumbering psychopath. Clay and Jenna manage to make it back to Trent’s house to warn everyone of the danger they’re in but unfortunately Jason has already started picking off the goofs.
The points of interest, at least for my weird ass, are the new additions to the Jason mythos and I wish they had remained focused on that shit. It sets it up so it would seem Jason has farmed the cannabis for its many natural benefits but also as a lure for idiots. The underground tunnel network and crude alarm system are perfect explanations for his ability to pop up anywhere on his stretch of land. It sort of fashions him as a pot farming survivalist with a lethal stance on protecting his property. Derek Mears is definitely an imposing figure and the agile savagery he brings to Jason’s movements set him up to be so much more than the goalie masked lump of murderous nothing the original series made him out to be. Sadly, none of this receives much focus and were left treading familiar waters. Most of the deaths are your typical acts of slasher brutality but a couple do stand out. There’s an incredibly nasty roasting of a victim within a sleeping bag that still makes me cringe (got a thing about fire) and a giallo worthy impalement is gifted to the head asshole and stands as the film’s best death. There’s atrocious dialogue and paper thin characters but that should be of no surprise. It’s a good enough time waster but also hints at something that could have been which makes it more of a failure than anything. 5/10