Monday, February 16, 2009

A review of Friday the 13th

Usually comedian, writer, werewolf and fan of obscure sports, Ritchie Duncan writes about hockey, but he was nice enough to file this thorough and funny review of the new latest "Friday the 13."

I know that Ritchie loves horror films, but I think he went to this film based on the poster and thought it was a sequel to "Slap Shot." Or he wanted to watch something less violent than a hockey game.

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the Friday the 13th movie.

The bad news?
It kinda sucked.

The good news?
It had a HUGE weekend, made a ton of money, and there is supposedly already a sequel in the works.

But, as fun as it was to go, (and it was fun), honestly- the remake of "My Bloody Valentine" in 3D, was a far better slasher movie experience. I saw that on 83rd and Broadway at 4:30 PM and this overweight black lady started screaming, got up, and ran out of the theater.

No shit.

One of her friends had to run out and bring her back in. It fucking ruled, and that movie wasn't even that good. But it knew what it was, and delivered.

Honestly, the biggest problem I had with Friday the 13th sounds like a joke, but it's true-

I really had no idea what Jason's motivation was.

And should that be hard?

Orginally, the mythos of Jason Vorhees was kind of patched together as it went along, and there have always been continuity questions, but before the series turned entirely cuckoo, there were pretty clear rules.

SPOILERS (old movies)-----

As you may know, Jason's mom was the killer in the first one and it was a big reveal at the end. Her motive was revenge against horny camp counselors who were fucking instead of lifeguarding. She went a little overboard, sure, but had a legitimate gripe. After she is beheaded at the end of the first one, young Jason leaps out of the lake, and grabs the last survivor who beheaded his mom. Was it a dream? We don't know. She survives, and wakes up in the hospital.

In the second movie, Jason is grown up. OK, so it wasn't a dream. Whatever. After he heads out and kills the last survivor, (who hasn't aged, despite the fact that Jason is an adult) more counselors show up, and, as revenge for his mom's death, and we assume, his own, he puts a bag on his head, and fucks shit up. There's a shrine to his mom featuring her severed head, with bodies all around it which suggests he's continuing her work. He isn't killed at the end and is still....out there. In the third movie, more horny kids hit camp, he dons the hockey mask, and never looks back, possibly due to the lack of peripheral vision provided by a mask like that. Shortly thereafter the series spins off it's axis and makes even less sense. But, at it's core, there were rules, and they were fun, scary and sexy. This film's whole reason to be was to restore that sense to the series, instead of you know, shooting Jason into space.


SPOILERS (remake)

So, in a tip of the hat to the first movie, they open the film with a black and white re-do of the final five minutes of the first movie. There's mom and a final girl, the mom blames the counselors for letting Jason drown, and monologues. Then, ka-blamm, final girl chops her head off. So what's new this time? We see a little kid's hands reach in, take the machete and I guess, we're off the the races.

Cut to 20 years later.

OK, now there's a bunch of kids camping at Crystal Lake, using a GPS to find a crop of marijuana to sell for a profit. Who grew it? We don't know, but in the packed movie theater, when they find the crop, a heckler yells out "That's Jason's weed!"

That was a good time.

Sure enough, the guy who finds the weed gets his, sadly- offscreen. Whatever, it's the first kill. Anyway, Jason shows up with a bag on his head and fucks shit up. Fast, furious, maybe not as gory as I'd like, but cool, creative, and fun. He runs at the last kid like a lion and just as the machete comes down, we cut to the title card, about 20 minutes in.

I'm on board.

And sadly, it's kind of the last time I am for the entire movie.

Honestly, it was kind of like watching a late era Woody Allen movie, where you want to like it, keep rooting for it, and just doesn't deliver the goods.

After seeing a fast, furious Jason in the opening segment, there's an awful lot of scenes where kids just turn a corner and are looking the way that Jason isn't. Oh, and they aren't camp counselors, they are just kids staying in a rich kid's house. And, sure- I guess having an asshole rich kid is good fun, but what gives? He was totally familiar with the house and the lake, and nobody ever killed him before. So why is Jason attacking his house now? I have no idea.

Maybe because they are in Jason's woods?

Well, no- because there are locals around who all know the story, and warn the kids not to hang around, saying strangers who disappear are dead. So Jason only kills strangers? Nope- then he kills a local. And why does he kill the local? It's unclear. If you use the logic of the heckler earlier, (a stretch, but OK) the local does mention at one point that he can sell one of the kids some weed, so I guess we can assume that he's selling Jason's weed. So does that mean that Jason kills locals who sell his weed?

So the entire motivation for Jason is he doesn't want people taking his weed?

Then why is he attacking the kids in the rich kid's house? They have their own weed. And aren't bothering anybody, except the rich kid, who is a dick.

Insofar as I can tell, he kills the local, so we can:

a) see a woodchipper for the first time (used later)
b) Have Jason get his famous hockey mask.

So how do they pull the reveal?

How does Jason Vorhees get his famous hockey mask?
How does it all begin?

He finds it on the floor.


Well, that's cool- I guess.

He killed a guy that he could have killed 10 years ago, but chose to do so now for no reason and then after killing the guy, he kicked some garbage around on the floor, found a hockey mask and put it on.


The rest of the movie is utterly bereft of anything resembling either a good scare or a creative gore scene. In fact, there really isn't that much gore at all. At one point, they figure out that Jason is killing people, know that he is named Jason and call the cops. One cop shows up, and gets immediately killed by Jason, despite the fact that everybody in town knows that Jason exists, and that visitors get killed, and the cop shows up at the lake house of the rich guy totally clueless because, um, I guess, because nobody who lived at the lake house was ever murdered by Jason before.


I don't know.

The only people who were murdered were- I guess, visitors, but there is no camp anymore, just a weed field. So who are these "visitors" visiting? Are they all recreational marijuana tourists? How can Jason tell who to kill? Is Jason poring over the voting rolls, making sure that the only topless waterskiiers he shoots in the head with a bow and arrow aren't paying local taxes?

(NOTE: One high point of the film: topless waterskiing)

Either way, Jason has now decided to murder all the people in the lake house, and does.

Then, there is a third act which despite including several cool new aspects that weren't in any of the other movies, decides to ignore or drop all of them, in favor of a chase scene, that is very shaky and unscary, and has a person getting killed that we don't really care about much.

At the end of the movie, Jason is fed into a wood chipper- wait for it....

Yep, it's a Friday the 13th movie, and we're leaving the wood chipper scene to the imagination?

Later, there's a surprise ending that is totally bullshit.

But I'm in luck! There's gonna be a sequel!

I will see that sequel.

Probably in the theater.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just saw this movie and everything YOU were thinking is EXACTLY what I was thinking.

I did a google and your post came up, lol.