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Oh, the Horror

For all the pre-release hype and “We’re really going to kick your ass with what we’ve done here!” chatter by the those Platinum Dunes heads (Michael Bay’s production company, also responsible for the better-than-expected Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake), this new Friday the 13th is like a machete-slash through a horror fan’s heart. Well, through mine, at least, since most of the various horror-websites are showering the return of Jason Voorhees with praise. I smell a bit too much dickriding on their parts, though, considering that nearly all of these sites have been running giant advertisements for the film for about a month now. That’s neither here nor there, though.

All I can worry about is what yours truly feels, and now two-full-days removed from the movie, I’m noticing that the entertained-yet-partly-letdown feeling I initially had has devolved into pure indifference sprinkled with shots of furious disappointment.

Rather than write your eyes off with paragraph after paragraph of analysis, I’m simply going to list the problems I have with Friday the 13th. I’ve never been a huge diehard for the franchise, now; rather, I’m the type of horror hound who enjoys the hell out of the films, yet can acknowledge that they’re really just bad movies masked in cool death scenes and supple boobs. The lowest common denominator, but done with enough sadistic glee that I can’t help but partake.

SPOILER ALERT

Let’s quickly run through what this new version does RIGHT:

—Like the best ’80s slasher films, this Friday the 13th knows when to hit the audience with comic relief, and does it often and funny enough to earn some genuine chuckles. Namely through a trio of likeable, stereotypically-stock characters—Chewie, the Asian funnyman who has the best overall “death sequence,” thanks to his drunken monologue in a toolshed that’s pretty amusing; Lawrence, the token Black dude who’s so desperate to get his rocks off that he almost masturbates to a plain-Jane catalog model wearing a sweater; and Trent, the all-American douchebag who delivers endless assholes-comments for laughs

—Again, like any quality slasher flick, this one has an ample amount of bare-breasted goodness. You get sexy-ass Willa Ford (remember her? One-time pop singer who had that one song “I Wanna Be Bad” featuring a shameful guest shot from Royce Da 5’9?) water-skiing topless; newcomer Julianna Guill showing off her awesomely-stacked goods in a “memorable” sex scene; and the film’s female MVP, America Olivo, who dies within the first 15 minutes but not without flashing the best Twin Peaks since David Lynch’s show

—Speaking of those first 15 minutes, they’re downright superb. It’s basically the first three Friday the 13th films redone and condensed into a quick mini-movie that sets up the film’s “plot,” and it’s about as intense as Hollywood horror filmmaking gets. The machete splitting the one guy’s forehead open alone deserves a golf clap

Now, the WRONG:

—With those opening 15 minutes in mind, it brings me to the film’s main issue: the script totally blows its load 15-20 minutes in, offering the sharpest brutality and only true scares before the title card even appears. Once this beginning set-up is over, the remaining 65-70 minutes are merely a slowed-down, less interesting version, never topping anything seen in the first act.

—A big problem for such ensuing whatever-ness is the general lack of ambition in the kills. Not to sound morbid or deranged, but the biggest charm of the Friday the 13th films has always been the at-times-unpredictable, always over the top ways that Jason Voorhees offs his victims. Here, though, we only get two, maybe three memorable demises. The rest boil down to machete-use overkill or bullshit manipulation. Case in point: there’s a truly pointless scene involving a redneck guy tossing objects into a chipper machine, which would be a perfectly gruesome death device, right? Unfortunately, Jason simply thrashes his throat with the machete. Same goes for Chewie’s shed scene, which shows us a plethora of cool-looking tools for Jason to choose from, but ultimately settles for a screwdriver.

—Jason lives in, and operates out of an underground mineshaft system?! What is this, The Hills Have Voorhees?! And he keeps a girl chained up as a prisoner?! How about the whole “Jason is a territorial marijuana farmer” angle?! Fuck out of here.

I’ll stop here, since this is running on a bit longer than I’d originally intended. For that, I apologize. Just so many things that frustrate me about this film, especially considering what could have been. If only the filmmakers pushed the envelope more, rather than taking the easy ways out. **Sigh**

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