How does one remake the 1980 classic yet still include the iconic character of Jason Voorhees? It’s no secret that Hollywood is all about repackaging and rebooting products so that they can wring a few more nostalgia dollars out of the public, which was pretty much the case with the 2009 version of Friday the 13th, a film that has more in common with Friday the 13th Part 2 and Part 3 than it does the original movie.
The movie opens with a poor recreation of the ending of the original Friday the 13th, with Mrs. Voorhees trying to kill the Final Girl only to have her head cut off, but in this re-telling we see a young Jason Voorhees looking on from a hiding place in the woods. Wait, wasn’t his death the thing that got all Mrs. Voorhees so hot and bothered in the first place? Once again we must wonder if Jason had faked his death and that he’d hidden out in the woods because his home life sucked or something. The movie then jumps ahead a few decades to where we find a new group of teenagers hunting for a mysterious crop of marijuana, unfortunately for them, they find the pot but also Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears), who brutally murders all of them, except a girl named Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti), whom he captures because she resembles his mother.
Six weeks later we meet Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki), who is looking for Whitney, his sister, and he’s doing the whole Easy Rider thing while handing out pictures of Whitney, it’s at this point that he runs into a group of rich kids who have arrived for a fun weekend at the lake. These teens are your standard one-dimensional characters found in pretty much all slasher films and would be considered rather unlikable if they also weren’t so forgettable. Clay eventually teams up with Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), the designated “good girl” of the group, but when they stumble across Jason carrying a corpse, things quickly go from bad to worse.
• Are we to assume that the pot field was planted by Jason, or was he just hired by the local hillbillies to guard it? Either way, this is much more financially conscious Jason than what we’ve seen in the past.
• Hanging a person in a sleeping bag over a campfire is a very sadistic thing to do but torturing people was never been Jason’s style, I mean, he did love displaying corpses so one could argue he practice psychological torture, but laying bear traps and burning people alive doesn’t have a much of a Jason vibe to it.
• After a mere six weeks, the local police close the case on five missing teens. This would only make sense if the cops were paid off by the hillbillies that Jason was working for.
• Jason trades up from the bag over his head look to his iconic hockey mask for…reasons? Did it take him twenty years to figure out that burlap was so 1981?
• Jason’s seemingly magical ability to appear anywhere, as if he could teleport, is explained here by his having a network of underground tunnels. I’d gleefully give the film points for this clever idea if only everything else wasn’t so blandly generic.
Director Marcus Nispel is good at creating suspense and tension but he’s hampered at every turn by a cast of characters that we don’t give two shits about – with the exception of Whitney who should have been the star of this movie – and at an hour and forty-five minutes in length this is also the longest of the Friday the 13th movie to date and it really shows at times. The entire last act of the movie consists of characters running from Jason, getting caught, escaping, running some more and then getting caught again, add rinse and repeat until the end credits roll. It’s really quite tiring, but not in a good way.
This is a slicker and more polished entry in the franchise, and the make-up effects used to depict the skills are lightyears ahead of what Sean S. Cunningham and Tom Savini were able to pull off back in 1980, unfortunately, other than that there is very little to distinguish this film from its predecessors. This remake also lacks the dark sense of humour that many of the better chapters were able to incorporate – there is certainly nothing meta going on with this movie – and so there really isn’t much to offer fans that they haven’t seen many times before.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Movie Rank - 5.5/10
In this reboot, they tried to give us a new origin story for Jason Voorhees but it makes about as much sense as what they tried to do back in 1981, meaning none at all, and we do get some brutal kills and a bunch of pretty people running through dark woods so if that’s all you need you’ll be happy, otherwise, give this one a pass.