Friday the 13th Review
“Marcus Nispel Should Go Back To Making Music Videos.”
June 20th, 2009
In the remake of the decent "Halloween" (1978) rip off from 1980, director Marcus Nispel and producer Michael Bay got just about everything wrong by not taking advantage of the vulnerable surroundings of Camp Crystal Lake, and cutting out all the suspense and easy opportunities for good scares in exchange for explicit sex scenes that does nothing positive for the film.
Updating Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) to running status helps to kill that laughable stereotype of these films being about hot chicks screaming and fleeing from a machete armed zombie who walks at 2mph max, but somehow would always catch up with them. Although that doesn't make up for the lack of thrills and chills which could easily have been implemented into the majority of sequences in the film, as with Nispel & Bay's remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" (2003) which maintained a creepy aspect throughout with better cinematography by Daniel Pearl, who failed to deliver any amazing shots here as he did in the 'Chainsaw' original and remake.
Given that the installments of this franchise are typically about teenagers in search of weed and good sex, then it wasn't surprising that screenwriters Damian Shannon & Mark Swift chose to go down that route for this remake, which is more like a remake of Parts II & III combined, but Marcus Nispel had successfully showcased his directorial talents enough in his 'Chainsaw' remake to take that typical idea, and enhance the potential scare factor that didn't go along with 9 other installments of the Friday franchise to make this something different. For had the series followed the typical horror rule that the victims are the ones too busy with drugs or sex to pay attention to what's going on, then their attentions would be elsewhere, allowing for more build up to great scares, though that aspect is conspicuously absent from the film.
As for the potential victims, one thing the film did right is the same thing it got wrong. It featured pairings of classic characteristics of victims throughout the series, such as stoners Chewie (Aaron Yoo) and Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta), fun loving couple Nolan (Ryan Hansen) and Chelsea (Willa Ford), the friendly acquaintances Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) and Clay (Jared Padalecki), and their stuck up leader Trent (Travis Van Winkle) with the dumb blond 'girlfriend' Bree (Julianna Guill). Given that these characteristics were chosen, then it's easy to imagine that each of them could have a unique run in with Jason which would fancy their personas, but instead, Nispel allowed the screenplay to stand tall and threw out all these implications from the final product, making for less than satisfying kills, and meager performances by the victims, leaving it all up to the hero characters and Jason to carry the weight of acting.
The visuals of Camp Crystal Lake were excellent, but since it was coupled with terrible 'payoffs' that constitute the 'thrills and chills' of the film, then they didn't do much to enhance the horror aspect of the whole thing, but rather made it tolerable enough to stave through this 106 minute wannabe horror flick whose best cinematography was in the two minute prologue with Pamela Voorhees (Nana Visitor) and a camp counselor (Stephanie Rhodes). That sequence alone served as a better template for an entire horror film of this nature, but it too was thrown out in favor of the typical stuff that caters to 14yr old boys, and them alone, completely disappointing real horror fans who love the originals for all the right reasons.
Overall, there's nothing unique or different about this film like with the 'Chainsaw' remake, or Rob Zombie's imaginative remake of "Halloween" (2007), but rather this is a better image quality rehash of the early Friday films that was only called a remake to constitute why Jason's still at Camp Crystal Lake as we've known it, rather than out in space or in an endless entanglement with Freddy Krueger. No thrills, chills, or scares of any kind, but just another pointless, though tolerable addition to modern horror that caters only to the preteen scene.