In the 1980s the so- called slasher film genre was in full swing. When Michael Myers and the “Halloween” franchise became the highest grossing independent film in cinema history, the studios scrambled to get in on the booming genre and unleashed a flood of psycho killers on the viewing public, for the better part of a decade and a half.
Along with the aforementioned Michael Myers, and the later Freddy Krueger from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” series, Jason Voorhees of the “Friday The 13Th” series has become a cultural landmark. He has appeared in over ten movies (eleven if you count “Freddy Vs. Jason”) and unleashed havoc on countless oversexed and loaded teens, as well as those unfortunate enough to cross his path.
While the series, to many fans, become stale and largely self mocking with the Jason-in-space themed “Jason X”, the character rebounded nicely with “Freddy Vs. Jason” and had many fans clamoring for a second match up between the two iconic bad guys.
Eventually the powers-that-be decided to go the remake route, which had proven successful with “Halloween” and “My Bloody Valentine”, and have crafted a new “Friday the 13th” which they hope will re-energize the series.
The film opens with a modern re-telling of what was part of the finale of the original film, and hits the ground running with an impressive opening sequence that has Jason menacing a group of teens camping in the woods. The intense first twenty minutes of the film had the audience at the test screening gasping and cheering as the events set the stage for the body of the film, which revolves around another group of young adults taking a trip into the woods for a scenic getaway.
As the group stops for supplies, they encounter a young man who is looking for his sister who vanished in the area six weeks earlier. Despite little luck in his search, and the insistence by the local police that his sister is not anywhere in the area, he remains undaunted and continues his search.
At the same time, the group of young adults embarks on a frenzy of sex, drinking, drugs, and carefree living in the woods unaware that they are about to gain the attention of Camp Crystal Lake’s most infamous former camper.
As the film unfolds, Jason soon unleashes his customary brutality on the group as well as any townies that come across him, and the film deftly mixes some humor with classic horror mayhem. In the time honored formula, a group of survivors soon finds themselves under siege by Jason and must find a way to survive Jason’s wrath.
While the film lacks much in the way of plot and is loaded with a cast of largely unknowns, the film is a refreshing update to the series, knowing what the fans have come to expect and providing plenty of gore and scares. Since the cast exists to be little more than fodder for Jason, there is little effort devoted to fleshing them out as characters other than to provide excuses for most of the ladies in the film to shed their clothes, and a few of the male cast to establish themselves as comic relief, or the jerk who is destined for something special.
Director Marcus Nispel who has a solid pedigree with the recent “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, viral videos of Resident Evil 5, as well as the pending “Alice.” He clearly knows his subject matter and working with Producer Michael Bay and a script from Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (the duo behind “Freddy vs. Jason”), produced a solid by the numbers horror film.
Fans of the series will note clever references to the past films such as Jason’s original mask and will find themselves yelling at the screen over the constant stupidity of the victims as well as the inventive way Jason dispatches his victims. I found myself enjoying the updated Jason because while the movie is faithful to the character, it revitalized him to show a more cunning predator who is not above using traps, bait, and plotting to achieve his means. There was a plot thread in the film that did not really get developed as much as I had hoped, but in the end, the film delivered the goods and sets the stage well for future outings of the machete-wielding Jason.
3.5 stars out of 5.