“Friday the 13th” - Not a hack job

Thu, 02/19/2009 - 4:27pm
By: Michael Boylan

** 1/2

There have been a lot of horror movie remakes over time and some are better than others. David Cronenberg’s “The Fly” is one that is far creepier than the silly original with the scientist’s tiny head on a house fly at the end and movies like “Thirteen Ghosts” and “House on Haunted Hill” were decent remakes for generations that had never seen or heard of the original. The latest trend has been to remake“classic” slasher movies and the results have been less than impressive. There was no reason to remake “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and the remake didn’t improve on anything but the picture. Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” was terrible, mainly because John Carpenter’s “Halloween” is arguably the greatest of them all.

So, what about “Friday the 13th?” Well, it’s the best of the Platinum Dunes remakes. While that might not be saying much, in my opinion it is a worthy addition to the “Friday the 13th”canon and one of the best in the series. This film is a reboot. The origin of Jason and his mother is told in the opening minute during the credits, Jason then takes out a group of sex hungry, pot loving teens in the next 10 minutes, and then our story begins with a guy looking for his missing sister and another group of sex hungry, pot loving teens coming to the area.

It ain’t Shakespeare.

Still, the makers of this movie have added some neat twists. The young people are at an expensive house on the other side of Crystal Lake and Jason is a bit like Rambo, laying traps and digging a tunnel that leads to other areas around the camp. The film looks good and the acting is better than it is in any of the other movies. Jared Padalecki of “Supernatural” plays the guy looking for his sister, Danielle Panabaker (“Sky High”) plays the rich jerk’s girlfriend and Peachtree City’s own Travis Van Winkle plays the rich jerk. Van Winkle, who has appeared in “Accepted” and “Transformers” does a great job in this film. Not only does he get the biggest laugh in the movie but he also has what might be the best “love scene” in the series’ history. I suppose a lot of the credit needs to go Julianna Guill, but it is a scene that will go down in history (at least in this franchise).

The key to what makes this installment better than most, if not all, of the others is that in addition to higher production values and performances, there isn’t a silly gimmick here. Jason isn’t battling a psychic, taking Manhattan, traveling in space or fighting on Elm Street. There is no yo-yo coming at you in 3D, no bikers in the farmhouse or Crispin Glover dancing weird.

Jason is back at Crystal Lake doing what he does best and that’s good enough.

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