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Friday the 13th (2009)

Reviewed by: Ryan Rotten
8 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

Jared Padalecki as Clay
Derek Mears as Jason Voorhees
Danielle Panabaker as Jenna
Amanda Righetti as Whitney
Travis Van Winkle as Trent
Aaron Yoo as Chewie
Arlen Escarpeta as Lawrence
Julianna Guill as Bree

Directed by Marcus Nispel


When Sean Cunningham directed a little slasher film in 1980 called Friday the 13th, he ignited a blood-drenched phenomenon that pervaded pop culture and, through eleven films, introduced audiences to Jason Voorhees. This hockey masked bogeyman was stabbed, drown, set on fire, awash with toxic waste, jettisoned into space, dragged to hell and pitted against Freddy Krueger. He's achieved life after death numerous times and has now successfully overcome his greatest hurdle yet: Returning for a Platinum Dunes-produced franchise reboot.

It's a chapter in his long cinematic history that gets so much right that it easily makes it into this writer's top five favorite Friday the 13th films (we can talk geeky here, this is Jason after all). The most technically proficient entry to date, this is one redo - in a spate of modern failed "re-imaginings" - that embraces all that we love about the franchise, and it manages to break some new ground. It's a rush, plain and simple. And Jason is undoubtedly back in a big way.

Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (using elements from an earlier draft by Mark Wheaton) create a story that can be arguably looked at as a sequel. If it were not so modern with the inclusion of cell phones and GPS devices, one could say it fits somewhere around parts three and four, while borrowing heavily from them enough to technically be labeled as a "restart." Regardless, it's a fresh tale insofar that there are new characters fueled by new, rather lightweight, motivations.

It briefly begins with a flashback to Mrs. Voorhees' demise on a stormy night. Flash forward two decades or so and we're introduced to a group of 20-somethings hiking through the woods of Crystal Lake to find a crop of weed (a running theme in Dunes' films, it seems, after Texas Chainsaw Massacre's Mary Jane piņata). In no short time, these over-sexed, Night Ranger-listenin' victims are dispensed with in brutal fashion, save for one, as we come to learn. The energy in this opening sequence - which is a long one - is tonally on the mark. Witty and funny with a few mean-spirited flourishes (way until you see this film's spin on the sleeping bag murder).

Picking up six weeks later... Cue a fresh crop of party-goers led by Travis Van Winkle's Trent - one of the best douchebags to ever grace the screen. He's opening the doors to his lakeside home to his rowdy friends, much to his chagrin. Meanwhile, a chiseled fella named Clay (Jared Padalecki, faring better acting-wise than his Supernatural co-star Jensen Ackles in that other slasher remake) is making the rounds circulating flyers and trying to find his missing sister Whitney (Righetti). His search takes him to Trent's front door where he befriends Jenna (Panabaker) and together they head off into the woods to continue his cause. From there, the Jason antics ensue and the bodies drop.

Friday the 13th retains and amplifies the "sex 'n drugs" combo that has increasingly come to the fore in franchise. Except I don't recall ever liking the participating characters as much as I do here. They're an entertaining lot with divergent personalities, I'll give them that, and they've got an amiable rapport. And from the group there is actually one character (who shall go unnamed) I was actually sad to see fall beneath the blade of Jason's machete. That's a first. Still, seeing them go remains a thrill and director Marcus Nispel, Shannon and Swift devise a number of strong kills, however, none as outrageous as what we've seen in the past entries.

As for Jason, fans will have a new interpretation to wholeheartedly embrace in the towering, hunched Derek Mears. This guy's a brute. An expert marksman. A survivalist. A freight train allotted choice moments to exude ideal menace, whether he's throwing canoes aside to find his prey or slowly plunging a screwdriver into a victim's throat. Jason is scary again. He's real. Not the meandering zombie so many audiences remember him as in the latter half of the franchise. This Jason doesn't hesitate and Mears' performance -which floats some creepy nuances - is all of our favorite Jason "moments" distilled into a single bad-ass. Full disclosure here, this film did an effective job of making this writer fear for Jason's life at the end, because, naturally...I wanted to see him return for more films.

My gripes with Friday the 13th are few and include never being able to fully see Jason's face. The sack he wears over his head (an intimidating guise) is pulled off for a quick reveal yet it's way too fast. And now being a fan of makeup FX artist Scott Stoddard's updated look for Jason, seeing his mangle visage would have been a welcome payoff. Also, for all of the jump scares, far too many involved Jason suddenly appearing behind his victim. The dude is imposing, no doubt, but it works once. There's also a very questionable decision made on behalf of the hero (or heroine?) that might have you scratching your head. Purists might balk at the film's refusal to follow the "final girl" formula, then again, I didn't find this to be a criminal decision.

Nispel and cinematographer Daniel Pearl present a slick-looking entry. They're absolutely in love with lens flares and nearly capture a certain '80s look to the daytime photography. Composer Steve Jablonsky, meanwhile, sets a proper mood music that thankfully isn't the "doom and gloom" of his work on Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Here he's a bit livelier and spices up his score with some subtle touches of John Carpenter. Harry Manfredini's "ki-ki-ki ma-ma-ma" is sparingly used. To be fair, I didn't miss it all that much, but when it's called into play, you can't help but grin.

Following a second screening (where I thought the film played even better than the first time around), I got into a conversation with one fan who enjoyed it but lamented some things he would have liked to have seen. Minor details. Why wasn't Jason invincible? Why didn't they have this? Or that? My argument was that this film was a perfect warm up. A reminder of just how a much fun a Friday the 13th film should be (admit it, we've lived through some dark days after Jason Lives). Platinum Dunes and company could have fallen into the trap of overloading it. Producing a film that was merely a "greatest hits" - which is not what I want to see. They nailed the balance, as far as I'm concerned, blending old and new sensibilities. And yes, this just might leave the fans wanting more but they should take heart in knowing that if the Friday the 13th has come this far, there's a good chance Jason will come back for more.

I hope he does.

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Posted by: djblack1313 on February 12, 2009 at 18:17:14

great review, Ryan! i know which kill that made you sad-ish
that you're referring to (i've read all the spoilers and stuff) and i'm w/ you on this. it's going to be a "shock/surprise" for people who are expecting this person to live.
i AM REALLY pisssed though at the non-big-reveal of Jason's face!!! that's total bull$hit!!! EVERY FRIDAY movie (as far as i know) has had a reveal and usually a dramatic one. so what gives Platinum?

Posted by: David on February 12, 2009 at 19:05:49

I thought it was overly slick, vapid bull****. Typical Platinum Dunes faux-gritty garbage that didn't have one-tenth the fun of any of the earlier series entries. It merely devolved into the same tunnel/chase sequences in the equally abysmal TCM remake. And the idea of Jason as a pot farmer is ridiculously awful.

Wow, even JASON GOES TO HELL was more entertaining than this forgettable waste of time. At least that film actually tried something inventive.

Posted by: Winchester on February 12, 2009 at 19:13:31

David. You lost all credibility by pairing JASON GOES TO HELL and the word "entertaining."

Posted by: David on February 12, 2009 at 19:16:04

Compared to this, it WAS entertaining. My credibility is intact, thank you very much.

Posted by: David on February 12, 2009 at 19:21:59

Jason X is better, too. At least David Cronenberg gets killed in that one.

Posted by: Winchester on February 12, 2009 at 19:33:35

And let me guess, you think that KANE HODDER is the end all be all of Jason performers? "'Cuz he ruuuuules!" right?

Posted by: Sick Nick on February 12, 2009 at 19:48:14

I'm scared by some of the things I've read. I HATE, HATE, HATE the modern 2-d doucebag kids thy put in slasher film so it sounds like we get more of that, Jason as a poy farmer? I just hope that is a joke. I'm sad about no face reveal aswell. I disagree with the 'diehard fan' that is dissapointed that jason isn't invincible. Have they seen fridays 2-4 aka the best films in the series? he got hurt in those films. in fact the only thing i was really excited about with this remake is returning to the human Jason.

Posted by: ico on February 12, 2009 at 20:10:17

Ryan Rotten

Besides the obvious like the fact that he runs more and the tunnels, is there anything else thats different from past entries? Is there something memorable that will make it stick out from the past movies? Thats really what i'm looking for. I'm afraid they wanted it to be almost a generic addition to the story just so that they wont anger fans of the series.

Posted by: Jonathon Knight on February 12, 2009 at 20:31:11

There was no big face reveal in Jason Goes to Hell or Freddy vs Jason so I'm not disappointed.

Tomorrow He's back!

Posted by: omarramos on February 12, 2009 at 21:00:19

David you don't know a good jason movie if it sliced you in the rear.

Posted by: Boogeyman78 on February 12, 2009 at 22:18:44

Saw it on Tuesday at a screening in Hollywood and couldn't wait. I walked out very dissapointed. It lacks a good storyline and right there, you lost me. I'm not going to go into specifics and try and ruin it for Friday fans that will be lining up tomorrow to see it, but my next viewing (if any) will be when I can use my free pass just so I can see it a second time with hopes to maybe find something I liked. It fails to capture a true Friday the 13th feel, nothing about what goes on in the movie feels right, other than the fact that it's called Friday the 13th and Jason is in it. If you've seen the Texas Chainsaw remake, you've already seen their take on Friday the 13th, and I'll even go to say that Chainsaw was better. I'm a long time fan, I couldn't wait, and all I know now is that any attempt to keep this franchise alive has just been shot to hell thanks to this poor attempt at a re-boot.

Posted by: Gregmeth on February 12, 2009 at 23:02:19

I will be seeing this, no doubt. I've been looking forward to it for months. I watched the old ones for kicks. It's finally here and I'm psyched. With that said, my biggest fear is exactly what Boogeyman78 wrote, and that is that I've already seen this version because I've seen Chainsaw 2003. I hope I'm wrong.

Posted by: paul firin on February 13, 2009 at 00:26:41

Amanda RIghetti was awesome in the movie

Posted by: JarrodUSM on February 13, 2009 at 03:22:41

Just got back from seeing it.....and it was AWSOME!!! It had everything I wanted in a Friday The 13th movie.

Posted by: edd on February 13, 2009 at 03:24:58

first off i havent seen this movie yet but i will tomorrow but for David to sit here and say that Jason X and Jason goes to hell were better movies.... damn David all i can say is that is you are not a true fan simply becuase they were the worst of the movies hell id almost put friday the 13th part five above them that jason wasnt even in. David you should really think about what you say before you type complete crap no offense David. and sick nick the best thing about fridays 2,3, and 4 is that jason was a serial killer that could be hurt and was not a living invincable zombie like he was in jason lives which is a good jason movie but it doesnt beat parts 2,3, and 4 that all happened in a row with no pause. it was jason going on his killing spree and most people dont even think about that. he was seeking his revenge. Sick nick i could not agree more with you more they were the best of the franchise! 2,3,4

Posted by: francesco on February 13, 2009 at 04:33:22

i knew it. he's back!

Posted by: Malky Fletcher on February 13, 2009 at 05:34:32

Cant wait till see this new friday the 13th
Look pure class man! am going to see this tomorrow.

Posted by: mujan on February 13, 2009 at 07:20:59

u guys are the male version of film devastators...

and u guys are a true meaning of minority...

replying to this coz i cant help sustaining my disbelief that these movies are watchable...

Posted by: coolerthanu on February 13, 2009 at 08:45:33

im so excited about this movie, when i was nine or 10 me and my friend always watched these movies, that and godzilla(GO JET JAGUAR), and i dont care wat anyone says i just want to see this movie for one reason and that is JASON(and naked girls) i dont care if its not a remake of just the first one, i didnt care for the first one and i dont want to see a disgruntled old biitch killing people, i only watched them for one movie and that was jason, so im really excited and people who are fans of jason should quit *****ing because its not everyday we get to see our favorite hockey mask wearing killer everyday :D

go on and hate one wat i wrote, because when its all said and done ill still be in line buying my ticket for the movie tonight, while u haters are sitting on ur computer all day hating on a movie.

Posted by: coolerthanu on February 13, 2009 at 08:46:53

o and btw when i wrote ''i only watched them for one movie and that was jason'' i met to say i only watched them for one REASON and that was jason.

Posted by: omarramos on February 13, 2009 at 09:47:39

Good to see JASON back on the big screen.The way its supposed to be.I've seen all Jason films in the theatres.This is the best one since the original.1,2,3,4,were just plain awesome and fun.From 5,6,7,8,9,and 10 those were just campy popcorn filler movies that were not scary at all.Little silly but still fun.This remake made JASON SCARY AGAIN AND FUN.Thats what this series is suppose to be about.Good comeback JASON, HOPE THE SERIES CONTINUES WITH THE SAME INTENSITY AS THIS ONE.

Posted by: omarramos on February 13, 2009 at 09:51:59


Posted by: pugs on February 13, 2009 at 10:31:30

well this could have played as just a sequel instead of a remake. nad noticed the real moral of the story is don't mess with jason's weed

Posted by: pugs on February 13, 2009 at 10:34:37

well this could have played as just a sequel instead of a remake. still loved it though and the real moral of the story is don't mess with jason's weed

Posted by: Evan on February 13, 2009 at 10:41:25

saw this at midnight..terrible movie..ryan rotten once again with a biased review..your site has been on this movies **** for months..what a suprise you give it a 8 out of 10. the ending was ridiculous and the acting was outragous. hope platinum gave you a good reach around you hack

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