Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Premise: A reboot of the 1980s slasher series. A group of college students spend time at a cabin not knowing that a killer is stalking in the woods outside.
What Works: This Friday the 13th is best compared to Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns or Peter Jackson’s King Kong in that the picture is essentially a tribute by contemporary filmmakers to the movies that have influenced them. And like those other films, this is a tribute on steroids, with far more violence, gore, and nudity than were present in any of the earlier pictures. The Friday the 13th of 2009 composites elements from the first four films and fans of those pictures will enjoy spotting the references to early Friday the 13th entries as well as other genre films like Jaws, The Silence of the Lambs, and Psycho. Derek Mears takes over the role of Jason Voorhees and his performance is among the most successful portrayals of the killer. This film hits the right note with Jason, returning him to the animalistic creature of the woods as he was originally presented.
What Doesn’t: The fatal flaw of Friday the 13th is that the film is just not very scary. While the filmmakers have cobbled together a cornucopia of Friday the 13th iconography, they miss the style that made some of those early pictures, namely Friday the 13th Part II and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, so successful. There is no atmosphere of dread in the film. The lighting is done all wrong and this film features scenes of Jason Voorhees fully revealed and killing people in broad daylight. The gore is intact but there is very little build up to that gore and so the scenes that should make the audience jump don’t have much impact.
Bottom Line: Like the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the remake of Friday the 13th reduces an effective horror story down to an average slasher picture. It’s not much of a tribute, nor does it take the franchise into new territory.
Episode: #228 (February 22, 2009)