I have a weakness for cheesy, "so bad they're good" low-budget horror, sci-fi, or action movies. I watch' em so you don't have to!
Friday the 13th (2009)
Directed by: Marcus Nispel
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Derek Mears, Danielle Panabaker
I was a major Friday the 13th fanboy as a teen during the '80s, and though in retrospect I admit that the series probably cranked out more bad entries than good ones, the franchise has remained a sentimental favorite of mine over the years.
The 2009 remake (or " reboot," or "re-imagining," whatever you want to call it) attempted to dust off the dormant F13 brand (which had been languishing since 2003's crossover hit Freddy Vs. Jason) and shine it up for a new generation. Judging from the massive outpouring of hatred that exists for this film on the Internet, it would seem that the process was less than successful. But seriously, how bad could this one really be compared to such previous misfires as 1989's Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan or 1993's disastrous Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday? With trembling fingers, I pressed "play" and returned to Crystal Lake for the umpteenth time.
(Mostly) Spoiler-Free Plot Description!
The film opens with a Cliffs Notes version of the original "Friday," re-creating the tail end of the final showdown between the maniacal Pamela Voorhees and "Alice," the last surviving counselor of Camp Crystal Lake's Class of 1980. Mrs. Voorhees, as we all know by now, has done away with the rest of the Camp staff to avenge the death of her ten year old son Jason, who she believes had drowned while the counselors were busy fornicating. Alice beheads Mrs. V. with a machete and before the scene fades to black, we see the deformed Jason pick up Mom's head and disappear into the woods with it.
Flash forward to the present day, and we're introduced to a half dozen twenty somethings roaming the woods near the abandoned camp. They're looking for a massive field of wild marijuana reputed to be growing in the area, but of course they're also drunk and horny (it is a Friday the 13th movie, after all!) so they set up their tents for an impromptu party in a clearing. While one couple makes the unwise choice to explore the crumbling cabins at nearby Camp Crystal Lake, the rest hunker down around the campfire to hear about the legend of Jason. The story, of course, is promptly dismissed as "bulls**t" by the gang of stoners -- until a hulking form with a potato sack over his head shows up and mangles everybody in fabulously brutal detail. The final fate of one of the group, Whitney, is shrouded in mystery as we fade to black... again.
Six weeks later, the hunky Clay (Jared Padalecki of TV's Supernatural) comes to Crystal Lake searching for his missing sister... Whitney. Since this is a slasher film, naturally he receives no help from the authorities or the locals. Clay also gets no sympathy from the odious Trent, an obnoxious yuppie with whom he has a chance meeting at the local convenience store. Trent's the leader of a group of typical slasher movie stock characters (i.e. the Stoner, the Wisecracking Black Guy, the Hot Girl, the Sensitive Nice Girl, the Surfer Dude, and The Airhead Girl) who are planning an epic party at Trent's palatial family estate for the weekend. Said estate just happens to encroach on the former Camp Crystal Lake property and we all know by now that a certain Mr. Voorhees doesn't particularly like trespassers on his turf...so do I have to draw you a picture of what happens next?
While Clay manages to convince Sensitive Girl Jenna to tromp around Crystal Lake with him in search of Whitney, Jason crashes Trent's party and picks off the rest of the gang one by one. This leads to the inevitable showdown between Jason, Clay and Jenna amongst the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake... where we learn that Jason's been keeping Whitney prisoner in the catacombs beneath the camp buildings because she resembles his dearly beheaded Mother. You've got that right, Jason takes hostages now.
Will Clay and Sister survive their battle with the hockey masked maniac? Does Jason get horribly mutilated by our heroes at the very last second, only to re-appear in a cheap jump scare just before the credits roll? If I need to tell you those things...you've obviously never seen a Friday the 13th movie before.
The Good, The Bad, and the Final Grade..
I'm going to go against the critical grain and proclaim Friday '09 to be a mostly enjoyable ride. It's got a more up-to-date, grim 'n' gritty look to it than many of the older films, but it still maintains the series' hallmarks - empty headed cardboard cut out characters, lovingly detailed gore scenes, and of course the gratuitous female nudity. Jason himself continues to be a mean machete swingin' motha, though they've done away with the "Unstoppable Undead Zombie Jason" that appeared in more than half of the old series. This new model Jason may not be quite as scary looking as the one we're used to (rather than a decaying corpse, he's just a hillbilly with Mommy issues) but he's just as crazy and just as handy with gardening implements. I wouldn't want to run into either version in a dark alley.
So when all's said and done, I didn't hate Friday the 13th '09 but didn't love it either. Even with a new creative team and a new paint job, this "Friday" is not much better or worse than most of the previous F13 films.
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I'd rank it above sludge like Jason Goes to Hell or Jason Takes Manhattan, but I certainly wouldn't rate it as highly as Part VI: Jason Lives (a personal fave) or the ever-so-classic original.
A sequel was planned (of course) to the F13 reboot, but the franchise became stalled due to a legal battle between screenwriter Victor Miller (writer of the 1980 original) and franchise producer Sean S. Cunningham. In 2016, Miller invoked a little known clause in copyright law that allowed him to reclaim ownership of his original Friday script ... which would make Miller the "owner" of Jason Voorhees. Cunningham's Horror Inc. production company, however, maintains that Miller was a "work for hire" employee when he wrote the original F13. and therefore they own any and all Friday related characters and trademarks.
The two sides have been battling it out in court ever since, but as of this writing no resolution is in sight. It's amazing to think that U.S. Copyright Law may have accomplished what a seemingly endless parade of "Final Girls" were unable to do in 30 years of films... kill Jason Voorhees!!
Time will tell if slasher-dom's favorite Mama's Boy ever makes it back to the multiplex.
© 2011 Keith Abt
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 01, 2013:
I didn't hate it but didn't love it either. And I totally agree with your picks for favorite Fridays. Part 6 is a particular sentimental fave cuz it's the first "F13" I saw in a theater.
Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on August 01, 2013:
I dunno. I thought this was surprisingly decent. That said, the template they had to draw of wasn't that strong to begin with, but I really liked this remake. For what it's worth, my fave Friday's are Parts 2, 4, and 6.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on June 17, 2013:
Very cool, Luckybreaks! Glad you enjoyed the review. I guess those of us who kinda sorta liked the "F13" remake are few and far between.
LuckyBreaks from Philadelphia, PA on June 17, 2013:
It's cool to see you liked this movie as well, whenever I hear of a remake (like with the new TCM) I assume it's going to be bad, but I love Jason so I didn't care how good it was, I was just happy there was a new one coming out! I thought it was pretty decent, those movies stopped scaring me a long time ago, but I just love em. I have a Jason cardboard cut out on the back of my door but it's getting destroyed by my cat. Poor Jason lol..
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on October 02, 2012:
Hey Shawn - good old Michael Bay, ruins everything he touches!! Haha
Shawn Dudley from Los Angeles, California on October 01, 2012:
This was one of the worst remakes I've ever seen. Produced by Michael "talentless hack" Bay. Filmed in Austin, TX.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on August 07, 2011:
Thanx for your comment, social... I agree, Jason has always been my favorite horror villain...
socialrafalino from Poland on August 07, 2011:
The Friday the 13th series is unprecedented. It is the single best horror series and Jason Voorhees is the single best horror villain.
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 27, 2011:
Thanx Marlon! I've got a few more old school slasher/splatter flicks in the pipeline for future entries in this series, so please stay tuned!!
MarlonC on July 27, 2011:
Hey there FFC, it's not often that a hub notification makes me log on but you know I'm a fan of yours, and I've had a soft spot for old school slashers ever since watching 'Evil Dead II' whilst having a succuba tattooed onto my back aged 17. I like your plot description - technically I would say it is just one spoiler away from spoiler-free, and not a total spoiler at that. It seems I have been unlucky enough to catch the sludge of this franchise, but in any case I have never seen a slasher that comes close to rivalling Peter Jackson's 'Braindead'!
Keith Abt (author) from The Garden State on July 27, 2011:
Thanks for your comment, A.P. Glad you dug it. More bargain basement horrors to come soon!
Alastar Packer from North Carolina on July 26, 2011:
Hello FatFreddysCat. Finally got around and this is a perfect one to start with. When the first in the series came out on a Friday the 13th, June of 1980, I was a co-manager in a cinema that played it. It did very good business but I've wondered if we would have been surprised or not to know the Fri 13ths future. Not surprised is me best guess. But if you'd told us that after how many sequels there would be a semi sequel to the original...well, that may not have. Excellent & enjoyable article & review Freddy. Like Jason I'll be back.