Here’s a bit of disclosure – I’m not fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, or its iconic villain Jason Voorhees. Where’s the depth to a maniac in a hockey mask who doesn’t say a word? Forget that – give me Freddie Krueger from Nightmare On Elm Street any day of the week. Or even Michael Myers from the Halloween films (including Rob Zombie’s 2007 reboot). I’ve seen virtually all the films in both of those franchises, but the only Friday the 13th films I recall watching are Jason Goes To Hell and Freddie Vs Jason, neither of which were particularly impressive.
So that was the frame of reference I had walking into the reboot of Friday the 13th this past (wait for it)…Friday the 13th. No backstory, no baggage – just a whole new world of campers, hackings, and the killing machine that is Jason Voorhees. I’ve been following the progress of the film for the past year or so, including the hiring of director Marcus Nispel (2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake) and the casting of Jared Padalecki, best known to horror buffs as Sam Winchester in the CW series Supernatual (which if you’re not watching you should be – it’s awesome). Not a bad beginning, and I was looking forward to seeing the direction the film would take, and whether I’d finally be converted to the cult of Jason.
The answer to that is simply – not so much.
So here’s the good stuff – the movie looks great. The people are pretty, the Crystal Lake setting is scenic, and the kills are gruesome. Jason himself, as played the massive Derek Mears, is scarily intimidating. He doesn’t just hulk around either. He’s quick and spry, happy to run after his victims. The acting is decent as well, a turn for the better from the previous Friday the 13th films, including Freddie vs Jason, which was only saved by the performance of Robert Englund as Freddie Krueger. Jared Padalecki makes for a compelling hero, who has travelled to Crystal Lake to find his missing sister. The rest of the victims assert themselves well enough for a slasher flick, though I’d be lying if I said I remembered any of their names.
But even with some inventive kills and some genuine scares, halfway during the film I was left thinking “who cares?” I mean, I know it’s a horror film and all, and one shouldn’t go looking for depth, especially in a Friday the 13th film. But it would have been nice to have a little bit more story, a little more information as to how an orphaned Jason would survive in the woods on his own for so long, and why the townspeople are content to let him be. Take a look at Rob Zombie’s Halloween; the first half was devoted to giving Michael Myers some depth. Some people hated it, some loved it. While I didn’t need Friday the 13th to go that far, I really was craving something more.
I think the hardcore Friday the 13th fans are going to enjoy this new reboot. There’s boobs and blood. It’s certainly a few steps above the previous installments I’ve seen. But at the end of the day, Jason didn’t manage to bring me over to his dark side. Instead, I’ll sit and wait to see what happens when the next horror icon, my beloved Freddie Kruger, is rebooted next year.
Nubile young actresses are already lining up for a part.