The best way to hear it is sitting around a campfire, on a dark night, preferably at Camp Maluhia: Years ago, a boy named Jason Voorhees drowned at Camp Crystal Lake and his death was avenged by his mother, who murdered the camp counselors that neglected her son. Yet it seems Jason wasn’t really dead after all, and is still out there, in the woods…waiting…
Something else you should know: I like the old Friday the 13th movies because they’re enjoyably cheesy, tacky artifacts from the 80s. I have been to Camp No-Be-Bosco in Blairstown New Jersey, where they filmed the original and it is one of the most beautiful places on earth (though it’s no Camp Maluhia). I have faux hockey masks that were signed by two of the actors who have played Jason Voorhees and have seen the original three times at midnight screenings, including one where the usher put on a hockey mask and chased moviegoers around the theater.
The original, released in 1980, is a dated, silly thriller that nonetheless has a knock-your-socks-off scare at the end. The 2009 remake/pseudo-sequel tries and fails to match the classic closing scene and doesn’t really surpass the original in any other way, either.
This intense, not-bad slash-fest never tops it’s lean, shocking and funny pre-credits sequence, which delivers everything you’d want from this movie in 10 minutes flat. What follows is a seen-it-before teen romp-gone-bad with a group of college-age misfits staying in a cabin for a weekend of sex and drugs, not noticing that Camp Crystal Lake is less than a mile away. The old teen slasher movie moral still holds: the ones who don’t get high don’t die, while the ones who get stoned and have carefree sex die horrible deaths. The murder scenes (there are 13—I counted) are sometimes routine, but a few caught me by surprise.
The Jason in this movie is more like Rambo than the lanky, slow-walking zombie from previous films. Director Marcus Nispel, who also helmed the recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, excels at filming dirt-covered antiques, creepy rednecks and high-adrenaline chase scenes. Unfortunately, storytelling isn’t one of his gifts; despite an eerie cameo by Nana Visitor as Jason’s mother, the back story will only be clear to longtime fans, while the rest will feel cheated by half-baked plot twists and ludicrous, newly added plot holes.
Surprisingly, this isn’t the most violent in the series (part four, The Final Chapter, and part nine, Jason Goes to Hell, were far more disgusting and mean-spirited).
Unlike the charmingly lousy originals, the remake won’t stick with you. On the other hand, it’s hard to think of a more sadistic Valentine’s Day date movie. MTW