Finally caught this picture this afternoon. I feel like the perfect time to watch a dumb horror movie is on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It's a time i find myself pretty generous with the amount of stupidity I'll allow myself to sit in front of for the next 90 to 120 minutes.
FRIDAY THE 13TH 2009 is a poorly made film written and directed by 12 year olds, made for 12 year olds. In that essence, it's a perfectly fine film. You have your scares, your sex, your profanity and your drugs.
In 2009, we find ourselves at a point in our culture where we have been exposed to so much, that movies need to ratchet up some components to desperately keep with the ever shrinking attention spans of it's audience. This has been the practice for awhile now, but never so much transparent while comparing a remake like FRIDAY or MY BLOODY VALENTINE against their seemingly tame originals. Yup, there are boobs and carnage galore. Also a helluva lot of jokes about pot smoking (not to mention the fakest looking pot plants ever shown in any forms of media) and tons of profanity. When the snotty Maitre'de in FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF exasperated "I weep for the future" he meant now.
FRIDAY took awhile to kick in before I could really just sit back relax and enjoy the ridiculousness of it all. There's an extended prologue before it's title sequence that fell pretty flat. Shouldn't a 15-20 minute sequence that leads up to the title FRIDAY THE 13TH leave you with a feeling that screams THAT'S RIGHT! Instead, it's prologue meanders and crams loads of bad dialogue and now fashionably annoying characters straight into their demise that is mostly shown off screen or in badly choreographed close-ups. A bolder film would have set the bar high with the horror and tension, keeping it's audience at bay for it's remaining running time with terror alongside a sense of fun.
Oh, and did I mention that this FRIDAY sports the worst use of a great pop song I've seen in quite some time? Night Ranger's Sister Christian is thrown into this scene so gratuitously and ineptly that it left me forgetting what happened for the next few minutes to follow. I think someone found some pot and got chased by a man with some sort of sack on his head, but I'm just guessing about that.
After bungling a new beginning that could have packed a real wallop, the film gets back on track and basically acts as a sequel to the franchise us horror fans all know well and love. We get introduced to a new set of brainless young persons who will later surely be led to slaughter. There's a blend of stock slasher characters of past and present, most of whom act as audience identifiers. The fun begins... My favorite character was the decidedly more complex chewie. His dialogue was noticeably much sharper than the others and he manages to even incorporate a shout out to my new favorite scotch, Lagavulin. People who know Meep, know I have a vice for a nice single malt. I'd have a glass with that wacky & hapless chewie, any day.
The novelty of this redux from a fan perspective is the fact they crammed the first 3 sequels of Friday the 13th fun into one, allowing each little retread to spin into it's new beginning and become something else. It's apparent several writers have worked on this script because at times it's cohesive and other times pretty scattered. And that's fine. No one ever in the history of the franchise went into a Friday The 13th movie and complained of a lack of real structure. Each scene should simply be a scene that either works as a build up to or as a set piece of someones demise. This FRIDAY stays true to that formula and for awhile finally becomes fun.
I will complain that It didn't help that director Marcus Nispel (of the dismal Texas Chainsaw Massacre Redux) does not have a clear style other than always going for the obvious. This particular film could have benefited from a real sense of atmosphere and tension, but instead we get lingering shots of young flesh and a portrayal of New Jersey as the deepest sticks of West Virginia. As a native New Yorker, I must admit to not being a fan of New Jersey as a state (They still think the statue of liberty is theirs! Ha!---Plus New Jersey drivers are kind of douchebags) but the movie's portrayal of the town of Crystal Lake wanted me to rise up out of my seat and run to that state's tourism board in defense. Clearly Marcus still can't get TEXAS off his mind.
There is much contention about the film's "kill scenes" among fans, and I must side with those who feel FRIDAY lets us down in that department. There are a couple of choice moments to be found here, but overall, they lack any kind of real invention or sense of personality. It's pretty stock stuff, whereas the the original film with the help of Tom Savini's mad genius set the bar pretty high for the genre.
The FRIDAY films started out as more stalk and became more about the slash, so nearly 30 years later, fans will naturally want to see a film that delivers the goods. The kill scenes in a FRIDAY scene are essentially the orgasm to the stalk's foreplay so a film that can play both sides well can be one that can truly be loved...funny how such carnage on the screen can be so integral to a film's success...I believe it's what sets apart a FRIDAY film from most others in this genre.
Also integral to the 1980 film was it's score by Harry Manfredi. 2009 finds itself happy with something much more modern and complex, yet completely forgettable. Another misstep on filmmaker's Nispel's part because most real filmmakers in the horror genre can only attest to how crucial it is to have a good score to accompany your images on the screen.
I'm a jaded moviegoer, and sometimes I find it really easy to believe that these brat filmmakers of today were so easily weened on such a zombie-like curriculum in film school. The kind that only services to get you jobs in music videos and commercials rather than enable you to establish a real point of view. It's easy to love movies, but to have a real point of view and take the time to really hone and play with it is a thing of beauty. You get the sense that horror films made by these kinds of guys are only a way into the business to get other projects off the ground. Shame since there are plenty of talented people who actually care about the genre out there dying for the opportunity... Their voices should be heard.
Yeah, none of that should matter in a dumb movie as this one, and to a certain extent, it didn't really hinder my Sunday afternoon all that much. There are expectations going into any film, but mostly we should expect to be entertained regardless of some of these merits, or lack thereof. Clearly films today are effected by those who make and produce them and their integrity to the process. We'll forever miss the ingenuity of those guys of past who just wanted to get their little films made and then witnessed them get cast into the stratosphere. Long live that spirit.
FRIDAY entertained me as much as it left me indifferent. Kind of like the experience I had with last month's equally shallow yet surprisingly much less effective MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake. But that's okay. These films exist because of vastly superior films and they will never be mistaken for classics. At least by those who really care. And that's the magic of movies. They live forever, even when they take on different incarnations over time. We can always go back to the ones that got us interested in the first place and fall in love again.
Jason will return in FRIDAY THE 13TH: INSERT SUBTITLE HERE and horror fans will return to him because he is the poster boy of years of terror and fun. He has become a hero to the the adolescence inside of us that along with him has not fully developed. While we (hopefully) are far from being a mongoloid in a inbred part of New Jersey at the bottom of a lake, our hearts beat the same. Even after being innumerably shot, stabbed, impaled, drowned, put on fire, electrocuted and frozen. Jason is the personification of our fears, and we are him.