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Back for more blood:  If eleven films weren't enough then maybe this "13th" is the charm.   Jared Padalecki, left, as Clay,  is
ensnared by Jason (Derek Mears) during Marcus Nispel's film.  "Friday The 13th" opened in the U.S. and Canada this morning
at midnight.   (Photo: New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers)

MOVIE REVIEW
Friday The 13th

Bloody Hell!
  The Guy That's Dead Still Ain't Dead Yet!

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com    SHARE
Friday The 13th of February 2009

With the onslaught of so-called "torture porn" horror films these days, don't you yearn for the days of horror movies like this one, where just one slash or stab or chopped-off head did the trick?  Where you didn't have to see the gory details?

Yes and no.

Yes, it's nostalgia to travel back to Camp Crystal Lake where after eleven films and almost thirty years -- that's right, thirty -- Jason just won't die.  It's amazing to note that Kevin Bacon was in the very first film that started this mess of a cult back in 1980, with the violence bloody but relatively tame, vicious but cheerfully cartoonish.  Of course nowadays Mr. Bacon wouldn't be caught dead (excuse the pun) in another "Friday" slasher, even though he flirted with death in "Death Sentence" in 2007.

No, because in this new "Friday The 13th", with standard no-frills direction by Marcus Nispel, it's women who take the brunt of the exploitation, used here purely for the sexual or killing pleasures of men -- whether it be for raunchy sex, rampant misogyny or as the disposable playthings of their male counterparts.  Women are treated worse by the film's storytellers (Damian Shannon and Mark Swift) than Jason ultimately treats them here -- and that statement is irrefutable.  Whether it's objectification in a magazine for a quick male release or being showcased in one violent death Pez-dispenser like on the high seas, "Friday The 13th", which opened at midnight this morning in theaters in North America, has something to offend everyone, including the lack of a true script.  Did someone 'round these here parts holler "script"?

After a 15 minute prologue -- one of two things in the film that is effective, we are propelled six weeks later to a group of vacationers from New Jersey (a little in-joke about the Garden State and swamps is supposed to register by the sight of the SUV's license plate) and a forlorn lone ranger named Clay (Jared Padalecki) is motorbiking it to Camp Crystal Lake looking for his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who has gone missing.  At the sparsely-populated Lake community (sparse thanks to one of its bloodthirsty inhabitants) one older woman meets him with both contempt and a foreboding message: "People who go missing here aren't missing.  They're dead."  And that's about as simple as it -- and this film -- gets.  This new "Friday" is full of the standard characters -- the geek, the stuck-up rich kid, the girl who can't wait to take her clothes off and shake what her momma gave her -- and here that's more than a modest amount; the black character who amazingly isn't the first to die and a woman who is chained up in a dungeon of sorts, a prisoner exiled from "Beauty And The Beast" or something like it.

The second effective thing (actually the only real effective thing) about "Friday The 13th" is its cinematography by Daniel C. Pearl, which takes full advantage of good open countryside and riverside locations as well as halfway decent production design.  Mr. Pearl's camera captures lush, idyllic and calm days and greenlit eerie nights to near perfection, and the bright blue light that burns indigo late in the film is a beacon of beware symbolizing a point of no return.  Ala a point of no return preventing further sequels, one may hope.  Jason may be a cult favorite for the horror and schlockmeister crowd but he has long since been a tired punchline for the rest of us, some of whom will dare shuffle off to see this movie the day before (or after) Valentine's Day.  On any day of any week "Friday The 13th" certainly isn't a date movie, and for the reasons already described above, no self-respecting man who respects women would want to expose himself and his lady to the demonizing of women that is such a pervasive part of the proceedings here. 

In the new film Jason (Derek Mears) executes by stealth, but by the time we start to see him full on, which isn't too far into the film, he loses his fright, his mystique and his prowess.  We simply wait for the next bit of slaughter to take place and we move on.  No plot.  Just deaths interrupted by juvenile stupidity, rich-boy arrogance and the kind of jocularity and asinine horseplay seen in comedies like "Old School" or "Step Brothers" (a tailor-made Will Ferrell doubleheader).  There's barely a shred of suspense in the "suspense" that Mr. Nispel is able to muster here.  The same wide angles with lots of space in the frame and behind-the-back shots signaling that the end is nigh for someone before either Frank Sinatra or the Fat Lady sings so, makes "Friday The 13th" an amazingly tepid horror flick with three or four mild jolts throughout the entire film.  Despite the other strong objections registered here the one thing "Friday The 13th" has going for it is that at least the film looks good and doesn't pretend that it's something other than what it is.

Michael Bay, whose second "Transformers" film arrives this summer -- will there be ten more sequels to follow it? -- is one of three producers on the new "Friday" and Sean S. Cunningham, the man who started it all in 1980, is an executive producer.  They get to eat their cake -- the endless parade of attractive blonde or brunette women, some of whom showcase before being showcased -- and have it too -- intertwining sex and violence with a metaphorical fear and titillation -- in a way that sex and violence don't often merge in horror films.

With: Danielle Panabaker, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Jonathan Sadowski, Julianna Guill, Arlen Escarpeta, Ben Feldman, Willa Ford, Ryan Hansen, Nick Mennell and America Olivo.

"Friday The 13th" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, language and drug material.  The film's duration is one hour and 37 minutes.

Copyright The Popcorn Reel.  PopcornReel.com.  2009.  All Rights Reserved.   
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