Photo from source, LA Times
Well, I finally got to see the new reboot of Friday the 13th today. The verdict? I loved it! I've been a fan of the admittedly lackluster horror franchise since the very first installment. I snuck into the drive-in movie through a hole in the fence with my brother, and a friend. We were scared witless (I was 14), but I was hooked.
Friday the 13th is a movie series remembered fondly by children of the 70s and 80s, almost entirely on its nostalgic value. The movies themselves are fairly weak, viewed objectively. The first one is fairly slow and talky, though the last reel is terrific. The second picture was almost a remake itself, but followed very closely to the same vibe. Part 3 was filler, with the novelty of 3-D, and part 4--allegedly the "Final Chapter"--was one of the best entries, even though there were eight more movies to follow.
The new movie is a blending of the first four, and was paced in a novel way. Part one is covered briefly in the title sequence, with Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Major Kira) as Jason's mother, Pamela Voorhees. Stupid Monkey Planet (who joined me) and I agreed that there is likely more Mrs. Voorhees footage that was cut, hopefully to be restored in the DVD/Blu-ray release. For her brief part, Visitor evoked Betsy Palmer's classic role very nicely.
Act II of the movie--really only a few minutes in--has "sack-head" Jason doing his thing with a group of campers who were foolish enough to go to Crystal Lake for a weekend of pot crop gathering. And then we get into the movie proper with an act III, and a new group of "kids"--really a group in their mid-to-late 20s (at least). Jason acquires his iconic hockey mask, and then goes after our new batch.
There is an attempt at a bit more story than usual, with a captive from act II who resembles Jason's mother (or at least he thinks she does). But mostly, this is a typical slasher story, with a more agile and intelligent Jason. It's not particularly scary, but it's a crowd-pleaser. The kills are inventive--and even funny, if you have a dark sense of humor. Jason seemingly gets done in, but of course they left it open for yet another sequel. Wouldn't you?
I wasn't thrilled with the ending, though I suppose it is possible there is something during or after the credits that I missed. But it was certainly the best of the Friday movies in terms of production values, pacing, and overall quality. The plot line of the victim's brother who is searching for his missing sister was a carryover from Part 4, and made more sense in this movie. But there was one annoying plot point that was glossed over that was a personal disappointment.
The original Friday the 13th was a stand-alone movie, with a vengeful mother seeking revenge on teens she believed let her son drown, due to neglect. Jason is supposedly dead in that first picture. Then, when they decided to make a sequel, they claimed that Jason saw his mother beheaded, and was from part 2 to part 11 avenging her death. But they never explained why Mrs. Voorhees thought that Jason was dead, when he was really in the woods watching her death scene along with us. Since the whole series hinges upon this moment, I assumed they'd have come up with an explanation in this new rebooted series. Nope.
Still, I had a really good time. It was equal parts homage and kick-ass slasher movie. The new Jason was much more believable as a person, who eats and sleeps, and thinks. He still seems to know instinctively where each character is at any given moment, so as to kill them at opportune times. But his movements and reactions were much more human than they've been in any of the other films. He actually gave me a couple moments of--not fear--but apprehension at least. When is the last time one of these slasher movie anti-heroes did that?
UPDATED: To note that I saw this film at the RAVE theater in Town Square in Las Vegas, which is totally digital. "Big whoop?" you might say? Well, I've got to tell you, if you've never seen the difference, you'll be blown away. It was like watching an impossibly large HDTV in Blu-Ray. Crystal-clear picture, no dirt, spots or scratches. If I noticed in a movie like Friday the 13th how spectacular the picture was, I can only imagine how good a Pixar-type movie might play in this format.
My rating: Highly recommended for fans. Others, use your best judgment.
If you're curious what a real reviewer thinks, here's another view:
Review: 'Friday the 13th'
The team behind the latest installment in the "Friday the 13th" horror franchise has decided to reboot the series with a respectful nod to the mythology surrounding its iconic villain, the unspeaking, marauding killer Jason Voorhees -- who has, in previous outings, been sent to outer space, hell and/or New York City. . .
Read more at: Los Angeles Times