Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Film review: Friday The 13th (2009)

Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Jared Padalecki, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Derek Mears
Country: USA
Year: 2009

"You have perfect nipple placement, baby" – Trent (Travis Van Winkle)

Girl! Woods! Running! Rain! Exposition (zzz). Jason Voorhees lives! Five kids go camping, wonder what’ll happen to them. Two hot chicks: check. Two boyfriends: check. One dweeb: check. Camp Crystal Lake, [quiet] yay. Jason! Slash! Thud! Death! Horror! Sex! Hmm, pretty pornographic sex. Slash/thud: more death, more horror, less sex. Repeat. Oh, it’s just the prologue. Cue six weeks later tile, cue same 15-minute narrative stretched out over 80. Jason. Tits. Murder. Horror… Oh, the horror.

Hearing news that the guy who remade Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) was taking on Friday The 13th there frankly weren’t many who breathed some sigh of relief, whispering to fellow slasherphiles ‘phew, thank God they’re laying to rest the time they sent Jason into space. Credibility here we come’. But studio hack Marcus Nispel manages to make this reboot/remake/rehash almost as laughable, turning the cash-grab into a carnival of cliché, a pukepile of absurd toss that is as dull as it is derivative. That he has done so with such obvious aplomb and muster would be almost be charming if you weren’t expected to pay $15 to endure it.

After the lively campsite massacre of his opening salvo Nispel introduces us to some slightly more recognisable high school drama has-beens, not-quites and Jared Padalecki. The only other memorable cast member here might be Travis Van Winkle. Now there are assholes in the world and there are caricature assholes devised with the sole purpose of being victims of horrible (deserving) deaths in slasher flicks. In this Van Winkle plays the part he was seemingly born for and is rewarded with some of the many best bad lines the script has to offer.

I suppose it might be unfair to target specific actors in this yawn fest but the moment they signed up for the roles of ‘Generic Dickhead’, ‘Token Asian Guy’, ‘Local Hick’, ‘Chick Who Gets Boobs Out II’ and ‘Jared Padalecki’ they knew what they were getting into. Unsurprisingly it is Padalecki who gets the films only plot: ‘Jared Padalecki searches for missing sister Amanda Righetti while everyone dies’. Which I suppose is fine as device to get him to Camp Crystal until it is used to change Jason’s modus operanti who makes a lateral merger into kidnapping; these are tough times after all.

While you contemplate that radical departure be assured the rest of Friday The 13th demands nothing more than your tolerance of an entire cast of unlikeable characters. Slashers have always set certain people up for a great kill to be accompanied by a (sort of) guilt free cheer, but there are usually one or two people amongst the fray to root for. Not so here, the sooner Jason dispatches this collection rabble of losers the better.

It’s hard to find anything good to say other than to compliment Jason on his formidable archery skills after witnessing them first hand killing off a guy who managed to stick around for three seasons of Veronica Mars despite being of no interest to anyone. Kills-wise it might also be the most surprising, if only because of it didn’t involve having Jason SUDDENLY materialise right behind an unsuspecting victim.

Actually Derek Mears takes on The Hockey Mask with relative competence for a guy who just has to wield a large machete and appear menacing out of nowhere whenever we expect him to. Oh and the boobs were pretty good too I suppose.

Friday The 13th is released nationally in Australia 12 March, 2009