Thursday, June 20, 2019


I think the Friday the 13th re-fake from roughly decade ago gets a lot of undeserved guff and backlash for not capturing the feel and atmospheric dread of the classic films, lacking the classic Manfredini soundtrack and ki-ki-ki-ma-ma-ma zazz.  Jason has become a cultural icon, the films themselves have carved a niche in the horror community for being fun popcorn slashers repeating the same stalk and slash formula ad nauseum with boobs, bad words, and booze on both sides of the screen.  The refake was pretty and polished, practically an Abercombie and Fitch ad with nubile teens and soft skin in dressed in ripped jeans and covered in pseudo-Americana, practically a spiritual opposite of the original films, but none of this really bothered me.   The director Marcus Nispel is a music video director from Germany, so some of the backwoods stuff feels more like a Hollywood backlot than a real location, kind of like the German approximation of what camping in America feels like, but again none of this really bugged me, his Texas Chainsaw Massacre refake looked and felt like it was pulled from the same universe.  The first 15 minutes of the movie really ratchet up the tension and are probably some of the most intense moments in the franchise history.  Jason displays a new bag of tricks, each increasing his threat level exponentially.  He runs, he sets traps, and is generally much faster and more aggressive than any Jason we've seen before, which is awesome.  However, what is not awesome is Jason actively kidnapping and taking people prisoner.  There really isn't any precedent set, you could argue "new remake, new rules" but typically the new rules don't cut against the core of what defines the character.  

Well what defines the character of Jason?  After over a decade of films I think we have a pretty good template to go on; for one Jason doesn't talk, or reason with his victims.  He's essentially a land shark with machete teeth killing anything that wanders close to his camp, including poodles (part 2).    Jason's not completely mentally handicap, he has displayed some mental capacity through using various power tools and prank calling Alice, it's a fair bet to say he isn't trying to solve the mystery of the missing dark matter in the universe from his shack in the woods, but setting and baiting traps around Crystal Lake is probably not much of a stretch for him.  In parts 2 and 3 he was fairly speedy as a regular human mongoloid, so running isn't much of an issue either.  These new aspects only act to enhance his lethal repertoire and they use them brilliantly in the 2009 remake.  

In over a decade of films centering around Jason there are really no instances of him showing any hint of mercy for anyone invading his territory, much like the land shark he is, there is no room for any forgiveness or cajoling him into stopping outside of temporarily tricking him with his mom’s favorite threads.  Essentially Jason is defined by killing relentless; the bull in a china shop.

So why does it make any sense to suddenly have him kidnapping women who remind him of his mother (without looking anything like her, or even having that worn out sweater)?  It cuts against the core of his character; by kidnapping and allowing to live he is essentially showing prolonged mercy, which should never be in Jason’s highly limited vocabulary.  I know this is a refake, but this isn’t a ground up re-imagining of the mythos; there are certain expectations one has with a Friday the 13th movie that they do manage to adhere to throughout, it’s just that one plot point sticks out like a severed limb to me, even a decade later.

The good news is this movie looks better in retrospect and with time, as the future of the Friday the 13th series remains up in the air, at least we can settle on the fact that the last movie wasn’t too bad, but for my money I just want Kane Hodder back!  Just one more film!  Jason in the snow…make it happen!  Derek did a fine job, but least Kane would have never agreed to the kidnapping bit….