Published Feb 12, 2009Unfortunately, when re-imagining legendary movies there are narrow margins: stick too close to the original and there's no point, venture too far and face criticism for ruining the franchise. Foreseeing those issues, Friday The 13th director Marcus Nispel keeps his film dead centre. He reinvigorates elements, plucking from the chain's memorable moments yet takes liberties to ensure the movie is personalized. Still, Friday The 13th falls into the trap of predictability.
Clay (Jared Padalecki) is searching Crystal Lake for his sister, who disappeared from the area a month prior. He runs into a group of "God, when will they die, they're so annoying" college kids heading to a cabin for a weekend of bacchanalia. Other than Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), the group could care less, so she helps Clay and the duo eventually stumble into killer Jason Voorhees' (Derek Mears) stomping ground, the deserted Camp Crystal Lake. As Jason - little is revealed about him other than the typical "there's a killer in them thar woods" campfire tale - realizes his personal Zion has been compromised, he offs the whiny campus bitches until the inevitable final battle.
On some levels, Friday The 13th makes perfect moves. Voorhees initially sports a burlap bag, as he did in his Part II debut, and key props from favourite franchise characters are scattered about as a sort of scavenger hunt for diehards. It gives ample nods to the wealth of films before it.
However, beyond geeky kitsch value, Friday The 13th is still geared more towards the horror greenhorn than longhorn. One could time the obligatory jump scares with a metronome, the plot is as obvious as yelling, "don't go in the house" to a potential victim, and other than a faster, more aggressive Voorhees, there's not that much Nispel does to liven up the sagging series.
However, he did his best, given the restrictions, and it's not the worst film in the saga (cough, Jason X). Regardless, reactions will be equally predictable: diehards will be disgruntled yet modestly amused while the newbies will love it. (Warner)