Night #16: Friday the 13th (2009)

Directed By: Marcus Nispel

His name was Jason. And today, is his birthday…

 

So here we are, a remake that actually works? Kinda? It’s hard to say. I’ve seen the movie twice now and I certainly like it more than I don’t. Confused? Me too.

Platinum Dunes chose another classic film to remake, but this time they took things that were inherently ‘Friday the 13th’ and scoped their own movie around it, while making some intriguing changes of their own. See, that wasn’t hard was it? I’m not sure how they can get one remake so wrong while get another one right but that’s the movies for you.

This one is set in vague land between remake and sequel. It sort of acknowledges the first movie in the franchise and then spins off into doing its own thing (Basically it ignores the other sequels) . The basics remain the same: There was a camp, a boy drowned, his mother took revenge, the boy was still alive, the boy kills. All of this is set up during the opening credits, with the protracted opening scene (Seriously, the title card comes up at the end of the scene – 25 minutes in) serving as a mini Friday movie in its own right. It features the group of kids you’d come to expect from these films and then offs them all, leaving one.

After that we follow Jared Padalecki (From the fantastic Supernatural) as he searches for that one survivor and he meets the second typical group of teens on his travels. I’m sure you can guess where that goes.

The movie, for the most part, largely works. Except curiously some of the violence was a little offputting. I’m not prudish or anything like that, but like Piranha, there are moments when all too real violence invades upon the otherwise ‘fun’ tone of the film. And the tone is very much on the ‘fun’ side of the spectrum, with gratuitous sex and nudity abound which is then punctuated with scenes that would feel more at home in Hostel or something. To be fair to the film it’s only a handful of scenes and it’s not as egregious as it is in Piranha but it’s still there.

Violence aside, my only issue is with the look of the film. It looks great, it just doesn’t look like this movie should. The stylised grime look worked for the Texas Chainsaw remake, but it’s been copied verbatim over to here. It’s as if Marcus Nispel wanted to bring something dark and gritty to a franchise that didn’t really need it. There was always a naturalistic look to the Friday movies, and it would’ve been nice if they’d honoured that. Instead, given that the look has been duped many times since, it just looks sort of bland. Which is a shame.

Still, if you’re going to do a remake this is the way to do it, and it’s how the A Nightmare on Elm Street should’ve been handled: Both familiar and different at the same time. Take Jason for example, in nods to previous iterations of the character he wears both a burlap sack and hockey mask and he’s more territorial (There’s the implication that people ‘know’ Jason is around, they just stay out of his way) and less the argument for teen abstinence. He isn’t ‘punishing’ anyone, but they should stay off his land. Jason Voorhees: Vengeful Farmer. It’s enough to make you nod in recognition while still keeping it fresh enough that you stay interested.

Despite the success of this one there’s been no sequel announced, which is a shame because for once they’re on the right track. It’s not hard to make a Friday the 13th movie. But it’s altogether more impressive when they do one this well.

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