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Friday the 13th: The Complete Collection - Friday the 13th (2009) Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment

Directed by Marcus Nispel
Written by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift
2009, Region A, 105 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on September 13th, 2013

Starring:
Jared Padalecki as Clay
Danielle Panabaker as Jenna
Amanda Righetti as Whitney
Travis Van Winkle as Trent
Derek Mears as Jason
Ryan Hansen as Nolan
Willa Ford as Chelsea
Julianna Guill as Bree
Arlen Escarpeta as Lawrence
America Olivo as Amanda

 

Review:

Clay Wilson is looking for his sister who has been missing since she went camping six weeks ago. He arrives in the area where she was last seen and is handing out flyers, knocking on doors asking residents for help, but not making any progress. He crosses paths with a group of people partying at a lake house, but unfortunately Trent, their leader, wants nothing to do with Clay or his search and sends him packing. Trent is a major league asshole, but he's wealthy so the others put up with him. Jenna is a decent person, however, and she leaves her friends to help Clay search the surrounding area. Together they find an abandoned campground and a rundown house nearby.

Jason Voorhees emerges from the woods carrying a dead body over his shoulder. This Jason is a bit different than earlier incarnations as he is now more intelligent, and clever enough to set traps while using a series of local tunnels to keep ahead of his prey. Clay and Jenna race back to the lake house to warn the others, but the group is already under attack by the time they get there. Jason chases our heroes back into the tunnels, but someone else is waiting when they arrive. What follows is series of elaborate set-pieces that include a nice spin on the traditional Final Girl concept.

Over the last ten years, Hollywood has recycled classic hits including Halloween, My Bloody Valentine, The Amityville Horror and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. By the time the producers got around to Friday the 13th, they faced a dilemma; a direct remake of the original film would alienate the legion of "Jason" fans whose iconic lead was not an active participant until the first sequel. The solution was to pull elements from the first four entries in the original franchise and offer a "terror casserole" filled with greatest hits now assembled in one new presentation.

 

The story moves at a rapid pace but suffers under an unusual five-act structure. The plot involving Mrs. Voorhees is reduced to a two minute set of clips interspersed with opening credit title cards. The action shifts to Whitney (Clay's missing sister) and friends getting attacked by Jason, and it is 25 minutes into the film before we see the title Friday the 13th appear on screen. At this point the movie starts over again by introducing a third set of friends that we follow for the remaining hour of the picture. This approach is both jarring and frustrating as we now have three sets of underdeveloped characters to keep up with. Similar structural problems plagued Rob Zombie's Halloween remake and while Friday never sinks to that level of incompetence, there is a palpable feeling of a giant missed opportunity here.

The horror genre is particularly guilty of following trends and cashing in on someone else's success. This was as true of Sean Cunningham's Friday the 13th (1980) as it is of this Marcus Nispel's remake almost three decades later. Cunningham cashed in on the success of John Carpenter's Halloween and Nispel is still pulling tricks from the same bag he brought when directing the Texas Chain Saw remake six years earlier. Slick camera moves and some mean-spirited kills are delivered to the attractive protagonists, but the film isn't particularly scary. The picture is frequently gorgeous, thanks to the legendary cinematographer Daniel Pearl (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)), but the end product is just empty.

Damian Shannon and Mark Swift's script certainly isn't doing any favors. In addition to the weird story structure the biggest problem here is a failure to understand the central character. This new Jason starts out promising as a survivalist who is quite resourceful and wise enough to use one victim as bait for the next. Some fans complain that this Jason runs, but in the past he clearly chased women and ran from the cops, although he never felt the need to pause to snag a hostage. Of course, these are the same screenwriters who decided to suddenly make Jason afraid of the water in Freddy vs. Jason.

 

Reflections from Behind the Mask (may contain spoilers):


The idea of Jason keeping someone alive is filled with possibilities. Has he been feeding her and taking care of her for the past six weeks? Has he been raping her? What does this do to his central motivator of killing horny teens on-site? I appreciate that this girl may resemble his mother, but the last time we see Whitney is in the opening sequence when Jason is charging her with a machete in the dark. He hates teens but love his mom...if only this idea had been developed.

Jason is apparently an electrician who keeps the security lights on at the abandoned campgrounds and has power running both to his house and the elaborate tunnel system underneath. The tunnels are a cool idea in theory, but did he dig them himself? And how did he manage to avoid flooding that close to Crystal Lake?

In the sequence with Whitney's friends, Jason interrupts his killing spree to run home and kill somebody before coming back and finishing the job at the first location. How did he know someone was checking out his mom's head in the bathroom?

If the locals know about Jason and his desire to kill anything in the vicinity, why do they not move away? And if Trent's family lake house has been located here for years, why has Jason never felt the need to attack it sooner?

The character of Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta) is not the only minority in the group, but he is the only one to bring it up--twice.

The scene in which Jason finds the hockey mask is terribly lazy, as it is just casually lying on the ground. The scene works better in the alternate version found on the Blu-ray supplements where Jason removes the mask from a victim.

Jason regains his teleportation skills first developed in Jason Takes Manhattan. I know he uses tunnels for quick access, but his ability to get around the lake house undetected is quite impressive.

At the end of the film, Jason gets his head lightly tickled by the blades of a tree shredder (a minor inconvenience for him), but instead of leaving his corpse in the barn our heroes lug his big ass to the lake?!

 

Video, Audio and Special Features:

Video, audio and special features for this collection will be discussed on the final page of this review.

 

Grades:

Movie: Grade Cover
Video: Grade
Audio: Grade
Features: Grade
Overall: Grade

Which Friday next?

 

 

Want to comment? You can leave one at the end of the review or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.

 

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