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Friday the Thirteenth

Movie title: Friday the Thirteenth (2009)
Grade: C+ (2 1/2 stars)
Rated: R
Summation: Teens visiting a closed down Camp Crystal Lake come face-to-face with murderer Jason Voorhees.
Spoilers ahead: No

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One thing that could be called a universal truth in the world of cinema is that the bad guys always get the best lines. Being "good" has such a limited appeal, and I can only suppose this is because breaking the rules and establishing a new "pack" has a primal pull of some kind.

Of all the impressive myriad of villains out there, some are just plain cooler than others. Friday the Thirteenth's Jason Voorhees is among the coolest. He's just cool, whether you dig Friday the Thirteenth movies or not. For one thing, he never talks, and though this means he never gets to use slick lines, it positively guarantees that no cheesy line ever comes out of his mouth. And he virtually has no face, which means you never get a glimpse inside his tormented soul to determine how smart he is or how he handles it when he gets pummeled or his attacks repelled. He's just there, always there. Like any stone-cold killer there ever was, he's not going to quit. He doesn't waste time. He just kills with a trademark taste for using sharp objects in his attacks and sometimes manhandling his victims to face death in all sorts of sordid, cool ways. He will always keep killing, no matter what. He's evil, tretcherously evil. His inner pain - like the outward kind he inflicts on others - is grueling. And let me add that he went up against Freddy Krueger and pretty much handed him his ass, one could argue.

I can do a horror movie once in a while. And though there are few truly worthy ones (like the 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead that inspired generations of zombie apocalypse movies), I don't always have to have a classic to appreciate one. The newly remade Friday the Thirteenth went way further towards being a worthy horror movie remake of a classic than expected. It was nearly enjoyable, but certainly gory in place of being scary.

There were some pluses. First, the music choices were right on. The background music pushed all the right buttons. Loved it! The quality of the story wasn't awe-inspiring and nothing about it added anything new with the queer exception of Jason taking a hostage (I still haven't figured that one out). But with remakes of classics, you don't look for new stuff. You want the old, just amped up with better technology.

Ever present in horror films is a thing more intelligence-insulting and icky than those having sex getting killed during it, and that is the insipid repartee of mindless teen dialogue. I'm happy to report that it was toned down, and if you can stand seeing kids look for marijuana and a place to camp out and screw, you can handle this. But you'll have to stomach at least one pair of youngins' getting gutted in the middle of doing the naughty--having that appears to be an unwritten rule for every horror movie director I've ever run across. It shouldn't be, but it is.

As far as the story goes, you already know it. A bunch of kids go out to a closed-down, boarded-up Crystal Lake looking for weed (what else?) They get there and hear the Jason rumor, and shortly after...well, you can guess what starts to happen from there.

Some of the characters are like the Star Trek security extras--you know right from the start that they are going to be dead soon, but not so with others. Along the way of killing off a few almost likable characters after the audience has had a chance to get to know them, we have a mysterious old lady who somehow knows that Jason "just wants to be left alone," local law enforcement that thinks the whole Jason thing is just a bunch of hooey, and we find out how ole' Jason gets his hockey mask. Nothing is ever explained except for Jason's source of power, but even that ending seems rather forced.

For sure, it has all the qualities of an old-fashioned horror flick, something that suited well the days of hair bands and shirts with wolf murals on the front of them. Whether or not that will make you want to spend money to see more blood spilt by Jason on top of the bathtubs full you saw in the 80s and 90s, well, that's up to you. But does it really matter that much if the kids Jason kills today drive Cadillac Escalades and use GPS devices and cell phones? Think, McFly! Think!

(JH)

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Director: Marcus Nispel
Starring: Jared Padalecki "Clay Miller," Danielle Panabaker "Jenna," Amanda Righetti "Whitney Miller," Travis Van Winkle "Trent," Aaron Yoo "Chewie," Derek Mears "Jason Voorhees," Jonathan Sadowski "Wade," Julianna Guill "Bree"
Genre: Horror

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