Friday, 13 February 2009

Review: Friday The 13th

Year: 2009
Director: Marcus Nispel
Screenplay: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker

Synopsis is here (like you need it)

"Hollywood will eat itself" - Taken from an IMDB comment

The first Friday the 13th film was a shameless cash in, based on the success of the seminal slasher Halloween (which in itself borrowed a shed load of elements from Black Christmas). If you don't believe me, watch Return to Crystal Lake: The Making of Friday the 13th, or just google it. The filmmakers didn't care and are proud of what they did, they're extremely proud of those box office returns.

So we jump forward almost 30 years and we see Micheal Bay's Platinum Dunes production company "remaking" Friday The 13th as the franchise (one of the most successful in American film history...yeah seriously) keeps making money to this day. Derided by critics but loved by horror fans, Mrs Vorhees (1st film, watch scream lol) and her deranged unstoppable killer son Jason have made a mint.

It's quite a surprise considering the original film itself. Despite some fantastic special effects work from Tom Savini and a memorable score (Ki Ki, Ma, Ma) from Harry Manfredini...The original film is not much to shout about. Sure it helped re-enforce those now infamous horror rules and standpoints and it has some atmospheric moments, but thats it. It can only really be taken as camp (no pun intended). So with this said....I wouldn't mind a remake.

Platinum Dunes have been down the remake road before. Taking classic American Horror films and "refreshing" them for a new generation. The problem I've had with them is they've always seemed to miss the point. Hollywood is always going to remake films but the films Platinum Dunes take don't need the treatment they've been given.

After looking at the early reviews of Friday The 13, I found that the critics have missed what I would consider a vital point about the Friday the 13 movies. Not only they looked at it with contempt about it as a bog standard horror film remake, but they also viewed it as a cynical cash in on the original. They really should have dug a little deeper because the original film WAS a cynical cash in on Halloween. The filmmakers pretty much state that on Wikipedia and Return to Crystal Lake (The making of the original film). They saw the bandwagon and jumped on it. The critics hated it but people came in droves and they created more due the returns made on each sequel.

The reason I say this is? Because The filmmakers were very honest with what they were doing. These days filmmakers show so much disdain for the audience when it comes to horror films it's unreal. After a quick browse at Wikipedia I read on what the writers wanted to do with the film; they didn't want it to be a period piece, wanted the teens to sound realistic etc.

Now while the teens in the film sound more realistic, they are still horrible, vapid entires, far removed from the fresh faced teenagers from just before i was born. Unfortunately modern horror filmmakers believe that rude, self absorbed youth is the only youth that we we wish to watch in slasher movies. Hell even Sidney Prescott was almost 15 years ago. Would would want a bunch of teenagers you might actually want to hang with? I want that? Why? Because I want anticipation back in horror movies. I want good people who have fallen into unfortunate events because you will WORRY and WAIT in FEAR for when the knife strikes. It's why I like The Blair Witch Project, it's why I like Wolf Creek, it's why I enjoy alot of horror films and dislike ones like this.

Navitiy has been replaced with arrogance and this self-importance leads to disengagement. I'm not surprised that modern filmmakers are killing themselves, trying to make their monsters lovable, because the supposed heroes of the films are so self-absorbed, empty headed or blank that it's hard to last the films pace (note the film is only about 90 mins long). So yes we want these assholes to die and fast.

But comes another problem. So your victims are so insipid that they're sucked any wish for them to live and the killer is so tired that he can't be bothered to finish them off with any invention. It's bad enough you can't relate to these people because their dickheads, but the fact that our (now) anti-hero can't be bothered to bump off these bastards in any fun way is even more distressing. It appears that after 30 years Jason can't be arsed to put any va va voom in his killing, maybe he's bored, maybe he's tired? Well as long as Sean Cunningham is alive they'll be no rest for the wicked as Jason half heatedly knifes most of his foes with his machete which is bizarrely still sharp after all this time (note it makes that "shink" noise even though there's no other metal implements near it).

Notice I don't mention anything about the acting or screenplay of the film? Well I'm sure the director stated to the token black kid in the movie "act black" and asked the Asian teen to (act Asian), but there's nothing that will make you wonder where these young thespians are headed to in the near future. This stems from the screenwriters not giving a shit about these people to give them anything near well rounded characterisation. Most of the young actors in the film do not have a chance to shine because they are quite simply meat.

The closest thing to someone you give a damn about? The ridiculously good looking Jared Padalecki whose given a sister to look for. He tries hard and comes out with the slight scratches but still has hardly anything to work with.

Like I said before the critics looked at this with contempt due to it being a bog standard horror remake. I look at it in contempt because even bog standard remakes can be fun. There is no fun in this, only mechanics. A Japanesse horror remake can still appeal to many who may not know about the original. The filmmakers here can't even be bothered to place anything dynamic into a tired franchese, even after 30 years.

Horror films are never award winners but they should be entertaining. For me they're most entertaining when those who are threatened by evil are people you can get behind. Because when the evil does get them, you lose hope and that's whats scary to me. "Can these people get out of this?" is the question I ask myself in a horror I like "he's going to die next" is the statement I say when I watch something I think is awful. least the tits were good.