Tuesday, May 7, 2013

An analytical review of Friday the 13th by Joshua Gratton

The Bodycount Continues message board ( has some of the most passionate and respectable slash-heads I've ever encountered on the interwebs.  Joshua Gratton from shared this excellent analytical review of the original Friday the 13th that I really enjoyed.  It definitely got my gears turning over a film I have seen dozens upon dozens of times.  It has me thinking about it in a different way and seeing more going on beneath the surface Jason lurking under the surface of the dark waters of Camp Crystal lake.... 

Friday the 13th (1980) - 10/10 - I see why people may find this slow or dull but I think it's an absolute masterpiece on forgetting and suppression. None of the young folks really remember what happened way back in 1957 or 1958. But somebody does. Mrs. Voorhees remembered her tragedy differently and as such placed blame where there may have been none on the counselors. They were making love. They were into themselves and forgot all about Jason.

Skip to 1979 and we have people who do not want to listen to silly old legends. They are carefree and honestly good people but Voorhees cannot see this because they do not occupy her reality with her memories. Everybody is wiped out leaving Alice to fend for herself. Her whole motive is to avenge Jason so that others will not follow the same fate, and her hurt will not continue on. But she talks with him. Jason is still as alive as he is dead to her. When she is killed, this entire tragedy lives on in Alice's view, where the deaths of her friends replace the drowning of Jason. The murders from 1958 are now just as real as the 1979 killing spree. She sees Jason pull her down to the lake (I take the original film on its own to be that canoe tip was a dream/hallucination).

Jason is the representation of what remains for survivors of traumatic experiences. "The boy! Is he dead too?" "We didn't find any boy..." "Then he's still there!" So many people take this to be his physical body is still there. I don't agree. Alice sees Jason as still being at the bottom of the lake because like Pam, in that she knows he's dead but references him as present, the horrific night will play in her mind for the rest of her life. I feel that Cunningham is helping to explain how one can have one foot in reality and another in the past with Jason.

With Marcie, I think that her entire "And then the rain turns to blood. The blood washes away in little rivers. Then the sound stops..." is a moment where events of trauma, unbeknownst to her perhaps since it is from a dream, are being recalled. Personal as this is for Marcie, it's also a memory of bloodshed that is not understandable to her or Jack. They are facing something unsettling, but then they forget all about it before they make love and are dispatched by the survivor, Pamela. Sure, she didn't live through a serial killing, but I'd argue that she's just as much a survivor as she is a killer, and this is shown in comparison to Alice when she wakes up in her hospital bed at the end.

Cunningham has gone off to say that Friday the 13th is a film, not a movie, and I wholeheartedly agree. That's why a lot of people stick with the likes of Part 2, 4 and 6 for pacing. Part 1 is as real as it gets in this universe and I think that its very natural look goes back to that. Natural in the camp, in the cinematography and so forth. That's why I love it. There's something I can grasp that relates to me and something beyond movie script. Of course we have heard the story about how Betsy Palmer wondered why Pamela was never shown in the film before the reveal, and Cunningham would say "let them guess". How could they guess? But that's the point.

We see 1958 happen and we see 1979 occur, but we only hear about the drowning in 1957. That's the red flag. Why would a random event be placed in the movie before the prologue? That's where we should have turned to. It's also the thing that we never saw so we passed it off. "Eh... didn't happen to me so nothing to wonder about." Pamela remembers though and it's as real as it is non-existent to us. For the fine folks at Crystal Lake, the 1979 massacre was a travesty, but it's another footnote in the camp's history. For Alice, the sun on that June 14th Saturday morning has yet to rise.

 Visit Joshua's blog for more excellent movie insight!