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FRIDAY THE 13TH, 2009
Movie Review

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FRIDAY THE 13th 2009
Movie Review
Directed by Marcus Nispel
Starring: Derek Mears, Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle
Review by Jen Frankel



SYNOPSIS:

A group of young adults discover a boarded up Camp Crystal Lake, where they soon encounter Jason Voorhees (Mears) and his deadly intentions.

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REVIEW:

I'm a sucker for classic horror movies. It's partly the nostalgia of a time when something could scare me so much that I'd be awake in the dark listening to every little noise, telling myself all the time don't be stupid, there's nothing out there.

And it's partly that I'm not a big fan of the Saw style horror porn that seems to have given up on suspense for sheer volume of blood and dismembered flesh.

Don't get me wrong; the first Saw was primo horror, not to mention a unique low-budget twist on the genre. But the rest, and all their ilk, feels more like buying a porn mag featuring serial killers and mutilated bodies.

Friday the 13th, directed by a German whose previous claims to fame are more in the music vid game (although he did do the 2003 remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and produced by the spectacle-maestro Michael Bay, is a throwback to a -- well, I won't say kinder gentler type of horror, but at least it's damned well made.

I got the sense that a certain percentage of the audience was disappointed that there was just not more hotties being torn limb from limb, but serious folks -- if you like a terrific film that just happens to be a horror, this is your flick.

You can tell this is one majorly well made movie by the quality of the acting. Yeah, they're your typical hard-bodied teens, the females of whom get to flash unnaturally glorious tits slightly pre-death ("spectacular" in the words of one of the getting-lucky guys). But they're all immensely likable and charismatic in their own way, from the kid who bitches constantly about being the token black to the terrific Danielle Panabaker who you might remember as James Woods's daughter on "Shark."

The dialogue is clever and the initial set up -- which amounts to an ambitious half-hour pre-title sequence -- is totally hilarious. Not only do you get some ridiculous iPod karaoke to "Sister Christian," but for a while you could totally be justified in thinking the film deserves to be subtitled "Potheads in Hell."

There's authentically deep psychological motivation driving the action here, which really makes this Friday the 13th into a good film as well as a series of decent shocks and scares. Handsome loner Clay (Padalecki) is searching for his sister who vanished with four friends near the infamous Camp Crystal Lake, in the wake of their mother's death. He's all alone in the world, a missing sister, dead mom. I couldn't help feeling his pain, or his outrage that the local police seem to have given up the hunt.

And, more surprising, I couldn't help feeling for Jason Voorhees, the man in the hockey mask himself.

Yeah, he's killing everyone he can get his machete on, but you know his story, from the recap of his sad origin given by the guy who becomes his first victim in this film. You know he saw his mother slaughter an entire campful of counsellors after his supposed drowning, and you know he saw her decapitated in front of him. This is one screwed up kid in a powerful man's body.

Friday the 13th adds a lot of nicely inventive ways of killing people (always a must in a horror flick!) to an economy of violence without that Saw-type overkill I really roll my eyes at. It's solid storytelling, with a lot of tension, and some really great moments that should go into the Jason cannon: topless watersports, someone ripped down into a floor as effectively in its way as Johnny Depp in Nightmare on Elm Street, and the moment where Jason discovers the hockey mask -- something I admit gave me the shivers.

There's some great stuff too, in the setup of various rumors and power tools that pays off so much later you've almost forgotten about them. This film gets storytelling beats, and how to scare you witless and leave you satisfied all at the same time.

This is the way a horror film should be. I may just sleep with one eye open tonight. For nostalgia's sake.

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