Another boring Friday at Camp Crystal Lake

by Glen Baity

Here’s one dubious advantage the new Friday the 13 th has over other unnecessary horror franchise revamps: No matter how bad it is, it couldn’t possibly be worse than, say, Friday the 13 th Part VI. Any promise this series once had has been, like Jason Vorhees himself, dismembered, drowned, burned and buried over 10 progressively idiotic chapters (11 if you count Freddy vs. Jason). Don’t get me wrong: the Friday the 13 th films have their own goofy appeal, but nobody would argue they’re really good films. The original Friday the 13 th didn’t break ground like the superior Halloween, and it didn’t have the creepy psychological bent of its contemporary, A Nightmare on Elm Street. It really was just a series of brutal killings with only the barest thread of story holding it together.

So there’s not much for this latest one to ruin. Still, the new Friday – produced by Michael Bay, ruiner of all things good and kinda good – gives it the old college try. There’s not really continuity to this series anymore, and the film makes no allusions to what has happened previously, outside of the original legend (in case you’ve never seen one of these films: Young Jason Vorhees drowned at Camp Crystal Lake while his counselors were busy making out; therefore, he rises from the dead to kill anyone who looks like a camp counselor). It’s not clear what we’re supposed to make of this. The latest Friday the 13 th could take place after Jason has returned from hell, Manhattan and Elm Street, but before he blasts off for the space voyage chronicled in the far superior Jason X. Or it could take place in a universe where it supersedes Friday the 13 th Part II and all that came after it. It’s unclear, and really unimportant, but in any case, there’s no big resurrection ritual – when we encounter him, Jason’s already alive and well, living under a cabin in the closed-down and abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. The story begins as it usually does, with a group of horny campers out for a weekend in the woods. Directly, they park on the wrong piece of real estate and get systematically hacked up. But it doesn’t end there. This Friday changes the formula a half-hour in and takes up with the brother (Jared Padalecki) of one of the campers, who is going door to door around Crystal Lake, searching for his missing sister (Amanda Righetti). He links up with a group of – who else? – horny college kids on holiday, and the whole process repeats. It’s two Fridays for the price of one! Thanks to a comparatively huge budget, the film looks more expensive than a Friday the 13 th ever has, but as always, that doesn’t equal quality. Director Marcus

Nispel, who previously helmed the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, piles on the gore, but leaves out the weird sense of humor that made the Jason films tolerable in their later chapters. The scares are from the same old bag of tricks as well, more startling than horrifying. Once the initial surprise wears off, there’s not much to it, and once you’ve endured the same process – silence, BOO!, splat – about seven or eight times, it gets awfully boring. If you’ve seen every other Friday the 13 th , you’ve seen it all many, many times. But that’s the catch – if you’ve seen more than one of these movies, you must not mind seeing the same thing again with minor revisions. In that regard, this reboot might be just what you’re looking for. Still, its big aim – to make Jason a legitimately scary figure again, instead of the campy icon he’s become – is a failure. Over nearly three decades, the guy has been overexposed and consequently drained of his menace, and no amount of headless backpackers will change that anytime soon.

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