Monday, November 28, 2016

Friday the 13th (2009) Review

So, recently I've been on a bit of a horror binge. It's new and unfamiliar territory for me and so far, I've been tackling the classic 80s slasher franchises. I've already done A Nightmare On Elm Street and this review will mark the end of the Friday the 13th films. And thank God too, because those movies were really bad.

After seeing his mother get decapitated, a mentally impaired child grows up to be the vicious, legendary Jason Voorhees(in a very illogical series of events that for some reason, weren't rewritten for this remake), who murders anyone who comes anywhere near his territory - an abandoned children's camp at Crystal Lake.
And that's exactly what happens. A bunch of people go there, get chopped up, then another bunch of people go there and get chopped up.

One of the many endearing qualities of the original series was the poor acting. The Friday films were always as cheap as you could get, and the often inexperienced "actors" reflected that. Here, they bring in people with both obvious talent and a filmography... and have them deliberately act like morons. Not 'quirky Crispin Glover' morons, but like a bunch of awful, loud alcoholics you would try and ignore on the street. Even the supposed heroes aren't very much fun to watch, and are usually scowling, fighting or running for their lives. The only time I really felt something for them, was when a brother and sister were reunited after one of them was held captive for a long time, but even that wasn't given any attention at all by the filmmakers.

They're not completely irredeemable and most of them get a likable moment here and there(for your knowledge, my favourite actor was Jonathan Sadowski, purely because he reminded me of James Rolfe aka the Angry Video Game Nerd), but they're easily the worst group of teenagers out of any Friday film.

Now let's talk about the star of the film - Jason. He's had his ups and downs over the years with a variety of appereances and intelligence. In this film, both are ramped up. Jason is enormous... by far the biggest of all the incarnations and probably also the smartest, given that someone had to build all those tunnels underneath the camp, fill it with lamps and hook them all up with electricity, plus invent an alarm system that would tell him when someone's treading on his ground. He's also significantly faster, trading his usual unstoppable march for olympic marathon legs.

So in that sense, he's the most efficient incarnation. But does all of that make sense to you? I liked Jason best the way he was in Friday the 13th Part 2: a slim, grown-up oedipal psychopath with some sharp weapons, who lived in an ugly, makeshift cabin in the deep forest. It was so much more... sensible.
That, and the other films also gave him a dark sort of likability. Jason was a devilish child with a temper tantrum, stuck in a man's(and later a zombie's) body and often in the old films, you rooted for him a little bit, because in his own way, he just wanted peace and quiet with his mother. He would often get befuddled or annoyed with things, and it added character to him. Here, he's just a ferocious killing machine, which just isn't as interesting to watch.

Whilst the gore effects are impressive enough, the kills are not particularly inventive. There are a few good ones here and there(particularly a lovely tribute to the famed sleeping bag kill), but for the most part, Jason just unsheaths his machete like a sword and cuts people down.

The cinematography is awful. During most action scenes, the editing is far too fast. Plus, this film has no concept of "night lighting"(aka adding light during the night, so the audience can see what's going on). Half of the movie takes place during the night, and you're left squinting all the time to make out what's going.
Pair the darkness up with the fast editing, and you have an unsatisfied customer.

As for Jason himself, he looks pretty cool. I like the costume they gave him(especially the T-shirt) and though we never get a proper look at his face, it's pretty repulsive, once again more so than any Jason before him. I'm not a huge fan of the blond, Gollum-esque look, but I can't really say it's bad either.

Trashy even by the standards of this franchise.


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