Unimaginative moviemakers continue to plow through unnecessary remakes of thirty-year old horror movies, spicing them up with state-of-the-art schlock effects that are supposed to make up for an utter lack of originality but don’t. So barely a month after “My Bloody Valentine 3D” comes this “re-imagining” of one of the granddaddies of the slasher genre from some of the folks who already gave you the remake of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” But while they actually did a reasonably good job with that one, here the result is bloody awful.
In fairness one does have to admit that this “Friday the 13th” isn’t as dreadful as Rob Zombie’s execrable “Halloween” retread. But that may just be a function of the fact that while John Carpenter’s 1978 thriller was a really good picture, Sean Cunningham’s 1980 flick—which in the recent DVD reissue writer Victor Miller admits was just a cheap rip-off of it—wasn’t. So one expects less, and unfortunately, that’s what you get—in spades. This isn’t really either a remake or a re-imagining; it’s just another crappy sequel in a long line of them.
The script by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, set twenty years or so after the events of the 1980 movie, pretty much ignores all the follow-ups since the first installment and might better be titled “Friday the 13th: Another Part II.” Camp Crystal Lake has been shuttered and forgotten for two decades. But a quintet of twenty-somethings come hiking into the area looking for a crop of marijuana; when they stumble on the old camp, it rouses Jason, who’s apparently been living in a maze of tunnels beneath it all these years with a burlap bag wrapped around his face, offing anybody who ventures too close. Our group of doltish, horny weed-hunters does so and suffers the consequences.
A few months later Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki), brother of Whitney (Amanda Righetti), one of the five unfortunates, shows up looking for her. He meets up with another bunch of twenty-somethings looking to drink and…well, you know what, at the lakeside mansion owned by the family of their snooty leader, Trent (Travis Van Winkle). The only reasonably intelligent member of the crew is Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), who takes a liking to Clay after mean-boy Trent insults him. For some reason Jason comes out of his hideaway at this point to attack locals, including the orgy house, and in one of his raids he stumbles upon an old hockey mask to complete his outfit. The cast, of course, is whittled down one at a time until only a small group is left to do final battle with him. A huge, strategically-situated metal-crushing machine is glimpsed early on, and sure enough it turns up in the last act.
There are so many missteps in this new “Friday the 13th” that it’s difficult to enumerate them all. The lapses of logic throughout are wide enough to drive Trent’s SUV through them. And the attempt to mimic many of the original’s signature moments while adding new twists on them proves a failure on both counts; the result just isn’t very scary. The one thing the picture gets right is to make all the victims such stupid, repulsive people that you don’t much mind seeing them get dispatched. (Unhappily, the writers and director Marcus Nispel don’t exhibit a great deal of imagination in staging the deaths—Jason usually just pops up behind his quarry and impales him or her with some sharp instrument, though he does also prove himself an expert archer.) Of course, it’s only the nice ones who make it to the final reel—including one whose survival is even more implausible that the remainder of the screenplay.
That brings us to the cast. Padalecki, who’s already had some experience with the sort of stuff (he was one of the victims in “House of Wax”), acts suitably intense; apparently he and his “Supernatural” co-star Jason Ackles, who was in the “Valentine” remake, tossed a coin to chose which role would fall to each. (Both lost.) The only other performers who make much of an impression are Van Winkle, who makes a thoroughly detestable handsome dog, and Yoo, who seems to think that he’s in a remake of “Dude, Where’s My Car?” or “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” rather than a horror movie.
The technical credits, including Daniel C. Pearl’s widescreen cinematography, are frankly better than the material deserves, though as usual nowadays the jerkiness in many of the violent sequences is wearisome. Steve Jablonsky’s score makes only minimal use of the creepy music Harry Manfredini contributed to the 1980 picture. Cunningham, incidentally, continues his connection with the franchise by serving as one of the executive producers for this picture. Looking back over nearly three decades, he certainly has a lot to answer for—this time more than most.