I love the Friday the 13th film series and I always have. But I’ll own up to the fact that Jason Vorhees has been in a few pretty bad movies. And even HE didn’t show up in Marcus Nispel’s soulless “reimagining.”
That’s right, guys, Jason Vorhees, as we all know and love him, is nowhere to be found in this inexcusable travesty. That’s not to say there isn’t some guy going around killing younglings with sharp objects and wearing a hockey mask. There certainly is. And his name is Jason Vorhees. But he’s not Jason Vorhees. Maybe he’s an imposter, like in Part V.
In the recent documentary about the series, the cast and crew of this film promised me that they were remaining faithful to franchise. Apparently, what they meant was that they were going to briefly mention the Pamela Vorhees killings, and then acknowledge that Jason did in fact wear a bag on his head until he found a hockey mask in the most underwhelming way you can imagine. (Sort of an “Oh hey, what’s this?” moment.) But he can’t return to killing people until he’s stopped to check himself out in a mirror.…I’ll give you a second to go back and read that again, because I am not going to repeat it.
So, according to the self-proclaimed “faithful,” Jason Vorhees runs like the dickens, stands to make Captain Morgan poses on rooftops, sets up elaborate traps and long slow kills for his victims, and has a blonde mullet and secret lair where he keeps all his important shit. I’ll concede that Jason ran a little bit in Friday the 13th Part III but it was really more of a deranged hillbilly trot than the Olympic champion sprint he’s busting out here. He does a little something else that’s, to say the least, horrendously uncharacteristic, but I’m lovely and I’ll have the decency not to spoil it for those of you I’m not convincing to steer clear. Also in this movie, Jason likes to fuck with you by cutting off your electricity. The Jason I know and love doesn’t care if your lights are working when he kills you, he just wants to kill you. By giving him physical agility, cleverness, and a fucking Batcave, you destroy the very simple idea that made Jason even remotely frightening to begin with. He was an unstoppable and completely inexplicable force who only wanted and knew how to do one thing: kill you.
Forgive me if I sound ranty or insane about any of this, but it’s 3:00am and I just returned from the midnight screening of Friday the 13th, and my only retribution is a laptop and a bag of White Castles. I’m not going to say that I went into it with an open mind. Because I didn’t. But I will say that I went in more determined to judge it on purely a genre level than as an entry in the Jason franchise (because I already knew from the trailers that they were going to fuck him up, and GOOD LORD, did they!)
So, let me put aside my Jason-biases and judge it as a part of its genre. It sucks. Royally. I have a certain rule for most slasher movies and that’s that they have a sense of humor in the way their director handles the material, because they certainly aren’t scary. This is something that the films of the original series always seemed to get exactly right–they knew how to make everything fun when making everything scary wasn’t exactly panning out for them.
To put it simply, though, Nispel has no sense of humor whatsoever. There’s “humor” in the movie, but it comes from the worthless characters amusing themselves within the confines of their worthless universe. In other words, not from Nispel at all. The pseudo-laughs consist mostly of loathesome characters making dumb jokes to each other about boobs and balls, none of which are funny at all. More than a fair amount of the laughs that rolled out of the shameful mouths of the audience I saw it with came from moments in which a character came across an ample amount of marijuana or alcohol and then was pleased with said discovery. It’s the kind of humor that’s meant to elicit “people will think I’m cool if I laugh at this knowingly” kind of laughs. And I hate those.
Nispel is so up his own ass that he seems to think he’s making a movie that people will take seriously. And because he has no talent, he likes to focus more on putting ominous shadows all over the face of the irrelevant disposable redneck who’s about to die than making sure that any of it is any fun for anyone.
So, having established that the movie is not any fun, is it at least scary? The short answer is fuck no. Nispel likes to kill any of the potentially creepy mystery tied into the character of Jason by showing him hop up on roofs and waltz around his secret hideaway, knocking things over, and by giving us a glance at his deformed face really early on in the movie. (It’s not a good glance, but it’s more than we get at any other point.) More than anything else, though, it’s hard to feel any real suspense or fear when all you’re doing is looking forward to watching the next asshole die. This is where a sense of fun would really help things out. Now, I’ve never been the kind of guy to come down on a horror film for being nihilistic, but when you squeeze out the fun and you squeeze out the scares, all you’re left with is worthless, pointless nihilism.
The whole thing follows the slasher movie template, throwing in sex, drugs, and brutal murder, but the energy and oddball charm isn’t there at all. It plays out like a movie made by douchebags for douchebags. The kills are mostly kinda dull and the sex is forced, obvious, and sleazy; tailor-made for lonely losers in the audience to point and yell “Haha! Boobs!”
Critiquing a slasher movie is hard, because it’s obviously a genre full of films that aren’t particularly good, but as a fan of the series, even if it is more for nostalgic purposes, it can’t be denied that the entries of the 80s just have something that this piece of junk doesn’t. I hated this movie. HATED it. I don’t walk out of movies. Never have, never will. It’s a strongly held principle of mine. But if I had to pick one, this wouldn’t be a bad choice. I guess they can’t all be Part VII. It took 29 years, but Jason Vorhees has now truly lived his Final Friday.