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John’s Horror Corner: Friday the 13th (2009), a remake/requel love letter to the early 80s featuring brutally familiar death scenes.

September 16, 2019

 

MY CALL: This remake gets a lot of flack but, you know what? I like it! I like it a lot. In fact, loaded with familiar scenes and kills, it’s a blast that serves as a death scene love letter to the early installments of the franchise. MORE MOVIES LIKE Friday the 13th: Lovers of this film may not appreciate the early Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), and I’d only suggest part III (1982) for the sake of story completists. But part IV: The Final Chapter (1984), part V: A New Beginning (1985), part VI: Jason Lives (1986) and part VII: The New Blood (1988) were all quite redeeming—with part VII starting a campier off-the-wall trend.  So part VII and part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) get a bit more silly, Jason Goes to Hell (1993) is outright bonkerstastic entertaining mayhem, and finally Jason X (2001) in drunk with lunacy. For a detailed (and fun) podcast discussion about this film check out The MFF Podcast #196: Jason X and the Friday the 13th Remake and then, to go back to some older installments, perhaps The MFF Podcast #182: Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.

Franchise Timeline SIDEBAR: So much as we’ve seen in the Halloween (e.g., 2018 and H20) and Critters (e.g., Critters Attack! and A New Binge) franchises, this film actually presents an alternate timeline. Because, sure, it’s popularly understood to be a remake/reimagining of Friday the 13th (1980). But really, it’s more of a direct sequel to Friday the 13th (1980) that ignores the other eleven Jason Voorhees movies (i.e., 9 sequels and Freddy vs Jason) and shares many revealing elements of Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)… or one could call it a reimagining of the sum of Friday the 13th films using the end of 1980’s original as backstory—as we learn during an opening scene campfire story. So, with that said, this is not the undead/deadites Jason of many sequels.

Venturing to the long-abandoned Camp Crystal Lake to harvest (i.e., steal) the marijuana harvest of a grow-operation, some unlucky hikers encounter a sack-masked killer. Wrapping a girl in a sleeping bag and hanging it over a fire—this Jason is just plain mean, which should come as no surprise with director Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre). Not to mention the visceral machete-through-the-floorboards scene, the cruel flesh-stripping bear trap, and the machete cleaving halfway through a dude’s head! All of which honor some of our favorite death scenes in the franchise!

Then we meet our next batch of victims heading out to a preppie rich college guy’s family vacation house by the lake—near Camp Crystal Lake! And unlike most slasher victim fare, these characters are fun to watch on screen as they are loaded with rich stoner and shallow and hyper-sexualized dialogue. They are almost caricatures of standard victim tropes…

Meet the victims: Whitney (Amanda Righetti; Return to the House on Haunted Hill, Colony), Richie (Ben Feldman; Cloverfield, As Above So Below), Amanda (America Olivo; Bitch Slap, Neighbor, Maniac), Wade (Jonathan Sadowski; Chernobyl Diaries), Clay (Jared Padalecki; Supernatural, House of Wax, Cry Wolf), Jenna (Danielle Panabaker; Piranha 3DD, Girls Against Boys, The Ward, The Crazies), Trent (Travis Van Winkle; Asylum, Transformers), Chewie (Aaron Yoo; Demonic, Disturbia, A Nightmare on Elm Street), Bree (Julianna Guill; The Apparition, Altitude, Mine Games), Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta; Final Destination 5), Mike (Nick Mennell; Halloween), Nolan (Ryan Hansen) and Chelsea (Willa Ford).

This movie hilariously embraces its franchise tropes and, like clumsily shotgunning a beer, spills these tropes all over itself deliberately. Character dialogue openly discusses sex in the woods in blatant language, America Oliva teases her boyfriend by rubbing her bare breasts with baby oil for God’s sake behind the back of their mutual (humorously oblivious) friend at the campfire as her beau mimes thrusting motions, a general abundance of sex scenes (with amusing dialogue), topless water-skiing, a sultry dance and then sex scene with Julianna Guill (with some epic commentary from her partner). Oh, right, and all this death was predicated by twentysomethings with the goal of theft, drinking, sex and drug use. However, I will note that Jason’s behavior is quite askew from our expectations. For example, he kidnaps one victim—which is far more typical of Leatherface than Jason.

Like an homage to the entire franchise, we span several movies (1980-1988) worth of Crystal Lake killers, masks and iconic kills. Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears; Dead Snow 2, Hatchet III, Cursed, The Hills Have Eyes II) is as hulking a menace as ever, and he uses whatever he can to kill these fun-loving vacationers—including arrows (part 3, 1982), creative use of sleeping bags (part 7, 1988), the through-the-throat stab (part 1, 1980), a gloriously fun and unexpected through-the-deck stab (with bonus boobs), hefty ax-throwing, and of course his favorite machete! In addition to familiar death scenes, some iconic moments you may recall from older franchise installments include the through-the-broken-glass grab (part 2, 1981), Jason’s hanging (part 3, 1982), dumping Jason in the lake (part 6, 1986), the discovery of his mom’s head (part 2, 1981), and the finale jump-out-of-the-lake grab the final girl (parts 1 & 4)!

REMAKE/REIMAGINING SIDEBAR: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982; yes, this was a remake), The Fly (1986), The Mummy (1999; adventure genre), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017) and Suspiria (2018). Those to avoid include The Thing (2011; a prequel/remake), Poltergeist (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Night of the Demons (2009), Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), War of the Worlds (2005) and The Mummy (2017; total adventure-style reboot-imagining). I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Halloween (2007), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), Fright Night (2011), Maniac (2012) and Pet Sematary (2019), which range from bad to so-so (as remakes in my opinion) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

Despite being much raunchier than necessary, I really enjoyed this much needed defibrillation of Jason Voorhees with the last film being 2003’s Freddy vs Jason. This remake gets a lot of flack but, you know what? I like it! I like it a lot. In fact, loaded with familiar scenes and kills, it’s a blast that serves as a death scene love letter to the early installments of the franchise.

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