Sunday, February 22, 2009

Musings on Friday the 13th...

This isn't a full on review. First of all, I don't want to step on Brandon Peters' toes and second of all, I don't think the film deserves my full attention.

Congratulations on that epic 80% second weekend plunge (more on the box office when the actual figures are announced). It takes a special kind of disappointment to make The Happening look leggy. My wife and I saw it on a Saturday night, at a major theater. More people died onscreen than were sitting in the auditorium. And yes, even my wife was stunned at its ineptness (and she likes those Sci-Fi Channel horror craptaculars). It's also the rare movie that is so dark and hideously photographed that it already resembled a bootleg that was shot by a guy with a camera in the theater.

Having said that... it was not boring. Oh no, it was too strikingly, head-slappingly stupid to be boring. My wife's favorite line was uttered by macho rich kid Trent, who drops his gun in the lake and exclaims, in all seriousness, 'where are you, gun?' To be fair, in what may be a case of me watching far too much Barney/Thomas The Tank Engine of late, I half expected the firearm to answer him with a chipper cartoon voice.

But we both loved the fact that Jason Voorhees seems to be the smartest 'mentally challenged' person in the history of cinema. He's apparently retarded, yet he can create a stunningly complex underground layer that would make Ernst Stavro Blofeld proud. There are animal traps, intricate electrical grids, and alarm bell systems, all cleverly hidden underneath an old turned-over school bus. Oh, and Jason is apparently an expert archer, able to pierce the skull of a swiftly moving target from hundreds of paces (does that new Dark Avengers team over at Marvel have an opening?). Alas, Jason was not smart enough to bring two arrows, so he has to improvise on said target's girlfriend. Good thing she hid underneath just the right dock... otherwise Jason would have had to swim after her, and we all know he has issues with swimming.

And we loved that Trent was considered a punk for cheating on his girlfriend with the random blond, but that said girlfriend (Jenna) was a-okay for running off with the moody motorcycle-riding drifter who was just looking for his sister. We loved the terrible math on display in the prologue (apparently 2009 is 'nearly 20 years' ago from 1980). I loved the geeky GPS dork, who seemed all too overjoyed at being the fifth wheel, the only guy without a girlfriend in a weekend smoke and sex party. And we love that the recession has apparently hit recognizable character actor Richard Burgi, who shows up for what barely amounts to a cameo. Between him and Xander Berkeley showing up for a walk-on in Taken, times are obviously tough for first season 24 vets (Leslie Hope seems to be pretty busy, although Michael Massee could use a steady gig).

But the very finest element of this 'reimagining' is the apparent revelation that Jason Voorhees is a stone-cold marijuana dealer. That weed bounty that the kids were looking for in the prologue? Apparently, since no other explanation is given, that weed belongs to Jason himself. Yup, old hockey mask isn't just crazed, he's just protecting his crop and his stash. So, ladies and gents, the message of the new Friday the 13th is: "if you mess with Jason's smack, Jason will smack you right back". Well then, bring on the unrated director's cut!

Scott Mendelson

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