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Friday the 13th
UKScreen Rating:

Friday the 13th – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Back in 1980, at a summer camp known as Crystal Lake, a young boy called Jason was drowned. His mother killed all those she believed was responsible, except one – who killed Jason’s mother with a machete.
This is a story, related by Wade (Sadowski) when he takes a group of friends for a weekend camping at the same site. The idea, of course, is to scare the group – and rightly so – it’s not spoiling your enjoyment to say that they don’t last long, courtesy of the ruthless, machete-wielding giant, Jason. (Mears).
Six weeks later, Clay (Padelecki), whose sister Whitney (Righetti) has been missing since that fateful camping trip, sets out to find her. The police have given up their attempts to find the group and another gang of teens, enjoying a weekend at a lakeside summer-house, seem disinclined to help.
Only Jenna (Panabaker) has any sympathy for Clay’s cause, leaving the rest of her gang to help him find his sister.
But soon, Jenna’s friends start disappearing, one by one, as Jason returns with a vengeance, to see off any reminders of the events of nearly thirty years ago.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Not so much a remake of the 1980 slasher classic, but what the producers call a “re-imagining,” which basically means that rather than being the same story, it catches you up on the original folklore involving the central characters – Jason and his mother – before throwing them fresh blood to terrorise.
This structure is dissatisfying from the outset, because the film apparently asks you to root for a group of friends who are killed off at the end of what would traditionally be seen as the first act, in effect making Act Two the start of an entirely different, if linked movie.
As a slasher film, it has many effective jumps and scares, often laced with dark humour, but the director Marcus Nispel – perhaps best known for remaking another horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – doesn’t have the courage of his convictions and resorts to too many cheap and easy sound-effect-induced frights.
Another big weakness is that almost without exception, the characters are so horrible that not only do you not care when their bodies are ripped to shreds, you actually will Jason to get them and derive almost as much pleasure as the monster does in thinking of ways to cut short their irritating little lives.
There is almost no plot here – and what plot there is, the search for Whitney – is almost irrelevant to the inexorable hunt – Jason would be killing whoever turned up on his doorstep, regardless of whether they were looking for his previous victims.
He just kills everyone he meets, leaving characters alive only when they’re survival – for the time being at least – is required to nudge the plot forward.
There are a number of nice touches – some harking back to the previous films of the franchise – but there are too few surprises. You can almost correctly predict the order the youngsters are going to fall, based on how despicable they are.
It’s just a relentless, pointless bloodbath, which ultimately ends not because anyone has worked out how to stop the killer, but because the film-makers have grown bored – or just run out of innovative new ways for the beast to kill his prey.

opens nationwide 13th February 2009

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