Friday, February 13, 2009

"Friday the 13th": Jason goes to hell

Alright, I know I haven't been updating much (coughATALLcough!) lately, and I actually don't even have the time to be trying to address this topic with any degree of thoughtfulness, but I of course had to weigh in on the slick, CW-stuffed remake of Friday the 13th that is hacking its way into theaters tonight.

I caught the movie the other night with a heart full of anticipation and a head full of dreams of sugarplum fairies and sliced coeds and all sorts of other crap. See, you may remember that I actually LIKED the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake that these fellas churned out a few years back, so I figured that if anyone could manage a successful reboot of a beloved horror franchise, it would be they. (And not, say, Rob Zombie, who can forever suck my ass for his back-alley abortion of a Halloween.)

So it is with a heavy heart that I inform you that this remake kinda shits the bed.

It's not a disaster. I wouldn't go that far. But it misses the point of what really makes Friday Friday, and instead tries to turn it into Chainsaw 2: Leatherface Joins the Mighty Ducks.

First problem: Jason lives underground in a tunnel and keeps prisoners. Wha-wa-WHAAAAAT?! Oh please. Jason is far too busy to be bothered with houseguests, even if they do vaguely resemble his mother. Which brings me to the biggest gaping logic hole in this whole thing: If Jason was indeed alive and saw his mother beheaded in the woods (this reboot conveniently says that the tot wasn't dead, which takes care of the "aging dead kid" continuity issue that the originals had), then why was momma killing the counselers to begin with? This version makes a HUGE deal out of Jason's connection to his mom (who, sadly, is in the movie for all of 23 seconds), so why was the kid pretending to be dead and following his mom around while she killed everyone to begin with?

After a rather disturbing opening 15-minute sequence in which the filmmakers are probably hoping to confuse us, as they kill off the entire cast (saw that one coming from the trailers, thanks), the movie totally flatlines for the next hour. It's not as mean as the first segment (the sleeping bag barbecue in particular is NASTY!) so it doesn't maintain the kind of grueling intensity as Chainsaw, which is okay since it's a body-count movie, not a survival flick. But they also miss the mark by making the characters so humorless and loathsome and the murders so gruesome and unpleasant that it's hard to have fun watching the bodies pile up.

Case in point: Every female character who dies (save one) shows her tits. Even former pop princess Willa Ford has to first waterski topless - TOPLESS! - before getting a machete in her head with her ya-ya's out. The girls are uniformly piggish sluts, and the guys are no better. In fact, in this age of diverse casting, the filmmakers are actually so lazy as to basically say, "Well, if we cast a black guy and an Asian guy we really don't need to give them any other defining characteristics." Um, not exactly, guys.

Go ahead and rewatch the originals - while the characters were horny and ridiculous, they weren't total assholes. The couples actually enjoyed one another, where here all the sex is grudgefucking where the guys slap around the girls and the girls like it.

Body-count movies are supposed to have an element of fun to them. Otherwise the experience of watching over a dozen people die horrible deaths starts to become grating, or even unpleasant. If you look at this Friday remake versus the My Bloody Valentine remake from a month ago (which had its own faults, sure), the Valentine guys clearly "got it" in terms of how to gruesomely hack up dozens of people and make it into a good time, and these guys didn't. Hell, Valentine even managed to put a full 5-minute chase scene where the victim is fully nude and in 3-D, and it still didn't feel exploitative or tasteless like this one does.

But this brings me to the only real reason to sit through all of Friday to the end: The bodacious ta-tas of one Jared Padalecki. Like his Supernatural boyfriend - er, brother - Jensen Ackles, he's using a horror reboot to make his mark on the winter box office. And while Ackles' movie is a better one, Padalecki has clearly been hitting the gym to fill out his costume, and his perky nips may just be enough to guide you out of the woods once and for all.

So while not a total disaster, this wasn't the return to Camp Blood that I was hoping for. It's an unduly misogynistic and occasionally rather boring reimagining that downgrades one of our greatest masked men to being yet another retard in the woods with mommy issues and no sense for decorating. And if I wanted to see that, I'd rent Nell.

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