Movie Review: Vendredi 13
By Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune Staff Writer
I don't know about you, but my last encounter with Jason Voorhees was less than pleasant. We were in space, if I remember, and his employment situation, bloody awful in the best of times, only steady during the Reagan administration, had grown so desperate that he had to venture outside Earth's atmosphere to find anyone left to kill.
"Jason X," the movie was called. And though he had led a full life - appearing in 3-D, vacationing in New York, going to hell, becoming a zombie, splitting in two, rotting away, coffee klatching with Freddy Krueger - to be honest, metaphorically, Jason had put on a few pounds.
This man-child-homunculus was carrying a lot of baggage, some of which didn't contain a human skull. So give a guy a little credit for having the courage to hit reset on that whole machete-based career trajectory and start anew - Mickey Rourke-esque, if you will.
This new "Friday the 13th," unquestionably savvier and snappier than the original "Friday the 13th," though just as useless, is a needed return to simplicity: An SUV of dramatically varied teens (sluts, nerdy sluts, one black guy, other sluts) visit Camp Crystal Lake. Pot is smoked. Sex is had by all. Also, topless waterskiing. They are then impaled and/or burned alive. Personally, after a decade of torture porn, I miss this whole straightforward, arrow-through-the-eye-socket approach.
What's fresh, though, is the pretense - Michael Bay, the driving force behind this ongoing wave of '70-'80s trash remakes ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Amityville Horror"), has given "Friday the 13th" a sense of humor and a fleeting, CW-like self-awareness, which tends to dull the edge on the machete.
In short, think a violent episode of "Dawson's Creek." A young, earnest guy with a wounded look shacks up with a group of camping sluts and nerds while he is out looking for his missing sister, who was possibly butchered by Jason while she was being the wounded, earnest member of a group of camping sluts and nerds.
That pathos, incidentally, extends to Jason himself, who clearly had a hand in the script. Finally we see his home life. We hear about his desire to be alone. He is, more or less, a cranky neighbor - and a survivalist. One camper wonders why he doesn't just fish. Yes! (Sigh.) After 29 years of "Friday the 13th" pictures, that may not count as progress, but I'll take it.
MPAA rating: R (for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, language and drug material).
Running time: 1:37.
Starring: Jared Padalecki (Clay); Danielle Panabaker (Jenna); Aaron Yoo (Chewie); Amanda Righetti (Whitney); Derek Mears (Jason).
Directed by Marcus Nispel; screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift; photographed by Daniel C. Pearl; edited by Ken Blackwell; production design by Jeremy Conway; music by Steve Jablonsky; produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form, Brad Fuller and Sean Cunningham. A Warner Bros. release.