Searching for his missing sister, Clay Miller heads up to the eerie woods of legendary Crystal Lake, where he stumbles on the creaky remains of rotting old cabins behind moss-covered trees. And that’s not the only thing lying in wait under the brush. Against the advice of police and cautions from the locals, Clay pursues what few leads he has in the search for his missing sister, Whitney, with the help of Jenna, a young woman he meets among a group of college kids up for an all-thrills weekend. But they are all about to find much more than they bargained for. Little do they know, they’ve entered the domain of one of the most terrifying specters in American film history — the infamous killer who haunts Crystal Lake, armed with a razor-sharp machete… Jason Voorhees.
This past Monday the 9th of February, I got a chance to see an advanced screening of the Platinum Dunes/New Line Cinema ‘reboot’ of the 1980 horror/slasher movie ‘Friday the 13th’. I went into this movie as someone who is old enough to remember seeing the original movie when it first came out in the theaters so I felt I was going to be a bit of a ‘hard sell’ when it came to showing me what this new version had to offer.
What they had to offer was this: the writing team of Damian Shannon, Mark Swift and Mark Wheaton in conjunction with the skill of Director Marcus Nispel and the production savvy of Michael Bay and Brad Fuller have in this reviewer’s opinion breathed new life into Jason Voorhees and the ‘Friday the 13th’ franchise.
I have to admit right up front, I was a bit unhappy with the ending. Felt it detracted from what was otherwise a very outstanding and entertaining movie.
Aside from the ending I completely enjoyed this movie, finding myself jumping in my seat and being scared by things happening on screen, which of course is the reason you go to a scary movie in the first place.
The writing was excellent. As someone old enough to remember seeing the original Friday the 13th movie in the theaters, I found this one to be far above that one in creativity, characterization and presentation. While the new ‘reboot’ took the time to pay homage to the original and to maintain a connection to it’s mythology, it also added some newer elements that gave the movie a stronger storyline.
One of those elements is the fact that the Jason Voorhees of this newer version is not just some hulking, mindless menace that you wondered why people couldn’t out run. Instead he is a cunning, fast moving, highly territorial and predatory creature with a personality. The casting of Derek Mears in this role was nothing short of brilliant. His innate sense of physical work and strong use of body language brought a real presence to the masked Jason Voorhees that I haven’t seen since David Prowse was cast as the physical role of Darth Vader.
All of the casting in roles for this movie were well placed and even though I felt there was a bit too much of the ‘generic horror movie victims’, the writers took the time to flesh out as many of the main characters as possible. There were several however who stood out for me as outstanding and really brought layers to their characters.
One of those choices that I was particularly impressed with was that of Jared Padalecki as Clay Miller. I am familiar with Padalecki’s work from his series ‘Surpernatural’ and his work in ‘Cry Wolf’ and ‘House of Wax’ but was not certain how he would translate as the ‘action hero lead’. After seeing Padalecki in this movie, in my opinion he more than holds his own in this position. Jared Padalecki brought the kind of strength of screen presence to the role that was needed for a character that would be in so many scenes of physical conflict with Jason Voorhees.
The other two casting choices that I was impressed with was that of Aaron Yoo as ‘Chewie’ and Arlen Escarpeta as his buddy Lawrence. The two of them added real sense of a ‘buddies’ and comedic relief without being cliched.
All in all for me the new ‘rebooted’ version of ‘Friday the 13th’ is a very satisfying movie. I have been spending the last few days telling others around me whom I know like this kind of movie that they have to go see the new ‘Friday the 13th’, cause it’s awesome!
Friday the 13th opens in theaters nationwide on Friday February the 13th.
Final Grade= B-
Reviewed by M R Reed
Originally posted 2.12.09