The day has finally come, my friends. A week of buildup, a week of practice swings, a week of potato sack heads, and now here we are strapping on the hockey mask and sharpening the machete. It’s Friday the 13th, baby! Set your clocks back and get new calendars, because its 1980 folks. This isn’t a reimagined 80s slasher – it is one. Just with nicer cinematography and about 30 years late.
In this outing for the all-star slasher, we reboot back to his humble origins. Mixing the best parts of the franchise from installments one through four and condensing them all into a singular, kick-ass experience, we find out all over again what happens when sex-crazed teens encroach on Jason’s territory. The film begins with a black and white introduction to the character for those who may not be familiar with his original story. That quickly aside, a group of drug loving teenagers decide to set up camp while on their search for a rumored marijuana farm near Crystal Lake. Not content just to earn Jason’s ire through their blatant love of drugs, they add in some sex, some drinking, and trespassing in his old home. He responds about as kindly as you’d expect.
Cut to later as Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) is searching for his missing sister Whitney, who was among the ill-fated campers previously seen. In his search, he butts heads with both local law enforcement and grade AAA super-fine douche Trent (played perfectly by Travis Van Winkle). Trent is heading up to his families luxurious cabin with his girlfriend Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) and an assortment of friends to enjoy a weekend on the beautiful Crystal Lake. This goes about as well as you’d expect. What follows is an exciting romp through 80s slasher cinema celebrating the triumphant return of Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears). Finally, Friday the 13th is frightening again! Derek Mears absolutely owns the character and strikes some intimidating and Frazetta like poses. Texas Chainsaw Massacre helmer Marcus Nispel is back on form, populating the flick with great visuals and plenty of jump scares -even hardened veterans will find themselves jumping out of their seats. The film got me once or twice and almost sent the lady next to me into cardiac arrest she was so skittish. Jared Padalecki plays his strong sort of silent type role well, he makes for a good male lead. Amanda Righetti is always a pleasure to watch on screen and she gets to test out her running abilities and spend some face time with Mr. Voorhees himself.
You may be getting the idea that I, a big time horror and Jason Voorhees fan, enjoyed the film. Well, you’d be right. This installment mixes creative kills with blood and humor in true 80s fashion. It delivers everything you demand of a slasher; blood, mayhem, and beautiful women disrobing. Producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller have done the franchise justice, along with fanboy writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who manage to piece together all the elements that make an effective slasher. Let me just say – Jason Voorhees is back and scarier than ever. Gone is the slow, jokey Jason who walks down Times Square and uppercuts heads off. In is the Derek Mears Jason, who springs traps, utilizes intelligence, and can throw the holy hell out of an axe.
If you’re expecting something in the vain of the latter films, like Freddy vs Jason, you’ll be disappointed. This new film takes itself seriously. That’s not to say its overly serious, as there is a great mixture of tones, with plenty of humor thrown in. Aaron Yoo steals every damn scene he’s in as Chewie, a lovable sidekick. He was utterly hilarious. But being funny doesn’t get you anywhere in a Friday the 13th movie, except maybe a body bag. In contrast to the funny moments are the kills – they’re brutal. There is an element of humor to one or two of them, but overall they’re nice and wicked, with plenty of punishment and blood ready to be handed out on the sharpened edge of a machete. This film bristles with tension – every angle change, every potential weapon has you on the edge of your seat with anticipation. Anticipation of what will be picked up and thrust into a teen next. Anticipation of where Voorhees managed to sneak off to. This mother [explative deleted] gets on roofs, ducks underground, and does whatever he possibly can to manuever into the right position to kill you. When he’s on your tail, he’s not giving up. He is an animal who knows only one thing – killing you feels right.
And just because I’m the Coroner, I give you a very abridged Coroner’s Report:
13 is the lucky number. Or, more accurately, the unlucky number.
I don’t want to give much away, but Jason uses a bear trap, an axe, a machete, an arrow, a school bus, and yes…. A sleeping bag.
Three ladies show you what they’re working with and none of them are shy when it comes to screen time for their chests.
It’s taken 12 films and yet we people still won’t stay away from Crystal Lake!
I’ve probably said enough above, but let me shoot some quick thoughts at you. This is a fun movie. It’s not absolutely perfect (wait for a 10 and 5 on Monday) but I am having trouble picking out the things I didn’t like. Jason has been rebooted much closer to his original form – a bad ass hunting machine. They added in the right amount of humor, the perfect amount of female nudity, and a great amount of gore and kills. The action is fast and fun and a wonderful ride to take. When you put Derek Mears up against the greats that have strapped on the mask, I think you’ll have to give him some serious points for how intimidating and violent this guy can be.
In short, if you’re a horror fan or a Friday fan, give this one a shot in theaters. Nostalgia and respect to the series creators aside, this is the best Friday the 13th movie in the franchise. That’s not necessarily saying it is my absolute favorite Jason film, but I am totally willing to watch it again already.
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