Friday the 13th (2009) is a complete disappointment towards the evolvement of the slasher film genre. Lest you think I was denigrating this remake capriciously, a thorough explanation is forthcoming. Because of the high-quality of the icky visuals found in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, directed Marcus Nispel in 2003, most were expecting the same with his efforts behind the lens of Friday the 13th (2009). Unfortunately, that is not the case. The downfall of this film began with the script written by Damian Shannon, Mark Swift, who wrote one of the best horror scripts, Freddy vs. Jason, you may ever read before it was deleteriously transformed into a feature film by director Ronny Yu. For that writing team to produce this lackluster, characterless fatuity is a talent reversal admirers of their previously mentioned script were probably not expecting.
The plot to Friday the 13th (2009) involves a one-scene back-story of Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears), marijuana, a missing girl, Whitney Miller (Amanda Righetti) and a killing spree almost completely spoiled by one of the film’s trailers created to promote this remake. As in most slasher films, the characters are given no depth once-so-ever. This was no big surprise though tragic that at least one person could not be given the gift of three dimensionality. What is also surprising is that the film’s kills, paid far more attention to than its characters, were so weak, humorous and “I’ve been here before.” The film had one good partial kill with an axe and another involving a boat.
The astute and knowledgeable horror lover will also note that the setting for the climax of Friday the 13th (2009) is shown at the beginning of the film, a tradition bludgeoned to death than spanked but followed by this film to the letter. Leslie Vernon goes over all of these splatter trappings and then some in the far superior and original homage to slasher films, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. Leslie actually shows the viewer why certain things happen in slasher films in the non-traditional horror format of a documentary. Aspects of that formula that he lays down are more or less followed in Friday the 13th (2009). In Friday the 13th (2009), that formula is nothing more than a rehash with no new ingredients, as lifeless and dead as most of the thirteen plus characters in this film end up being. One would think in 2009, the stupidity trend would not be followed. You would be wrong, dead wrong. In the spirit of the aforementioned Friday the 13th (2009) trailer, here is Friday the 13th (2009) “asinine” rundown: Girl gets lightly burned yet somehow dies from it. Jason runs at a girl full throttle with a machete, aims it at her head, cut to her being chained up in an underground tunnel. The fact that the standard a**hole Trent (Travis Van Winkle) did not tell anyone their cell phones would be useless at the cabin. Jason killing a hick wood chipper out of the blue that posed no threat and that had been living in the same area as him. Trent running into the depths of the forest instead of down the road the police officer just came down free and clear. Jason fighting with the chained girl’s brother, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki), leaving him alive for no reason, even though he has killed almost everyone else his hands have touched, and then going after the girl again. The one-liners during the final confrontation in the film and the ending to Friday the 13th (2009) also come to mind.
Let me ask you the reader a question: What was the reasoning behind dumping Jason’s body into the water? What purpose was that supposed to serve? Was it some kind of cathartic funeral service and through it, was Jason’s soul supposed to find peace? Were the survivors, as they watched their vanquished tormentor float distorted and lifeless from the surface down into the depths of Crystal Lake, supposed to gain some kind of finality to their ordeal, satisfaction of some kind? If any of these were the reasons behind that particular final scene, they all failed. This failure may have occurred because the scene did not have the correct gravitas, made no sense or that the characters involved were destroying valuable police evidence for no apparent reason. Didn’t Shannon and Swift think of any of this? Are the eyes of The White Tower truly blind? Was logic never an issue in the writing process? Having trim in the film obviously was. Shannon and Swift were given Friday the 13th (2009) because of their great work on the Freddy vs. Jason script and they squandered it entirely.
Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of Halloween was almost universally seen as not as good as the original, though many would admit that before he started the homage to the original Halloween (1978), Zombie had created something that could stand on its own and that was something new to Halloween universe. Michael Myers masking making hobby, how his cell was decorated and his early years in the mental institution are a few examples of this. In Friday the 13th (2009), no new aspects of Jason were explored or given any screen time. Mom’s head is off, time for Jason to start killing inconsistently, that’s it.
Friday the 13th (2009) is a quintessential example of The State of the American Horror Film. Instead of originating, Shannon and Swift decided to tell the same Jason story. They took the ending from the first film and added a new group of kill bait to replace those from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1980). Why not tell the story of how Jason Voorhees survived in the woods without a mother and father for all of his adolescent years? Tell how the town’s people knew about him and stay away from the area surrounding Camp Crystal Lake? It would have been interesting to see, that gap in horror lore meticulously filled in. As was mentioned in The State of the American Horror Film, this is the “Season of Remakes” and that was all that was done with Friday the 13th (2009), a repackaging. Think how innovative the first two Friday the 13th’s were. First you have the mother as the killer, the cool ending, and then in the second film, Jason takes over “the family business”. How many slasher films actually change killers from the first installment to the second and do so in a meaningful way? In the remake, it was all dropped and replaced with a nifty black and white opener.
Marcus Nispel’s Friday the 13th (2009) is a waste of the film stock it is printed on. Alien vs. Predator: Requiem is a more entertaining horror film than Friday the 13th (2009). That is one of the biggest stones I think I can throw at this film. It is disheartening when a horror icon is misused to cash in on its name value and the following it has cultivated over the years. Either that or the fact that this horror trend is in vogue and will continue for the foreseeable future.