Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a slasher flick, Friday the 13th fits the bill — and does it with wit to boot.
As five teens begin their quest to find some weed in the woods near Crystal Lake, it’s easy to tell whom to root for. The protagonists fall behind the others to have a short-but-meaningful discussion about why it’s a good idea to take a break and get out of town, while the rest joke with each other about finding the pot to sell and continue on. Later in the night, as the group sits beside a campfire, they start telling the story of Jason Vorhees and his mother. Creepy music comes on in the background. It’s obvious a slaying is imminent. Two of the group’s members, Whitney (Amanda Righetti) and Mike (Nick Mennell), stray into the woods, and their friends start to get picked off one by one. But just when it seems that Friday the 13th is going to be an hour and a half of standard horror-flick clichés, the first surprise comes: none of these characters are the heroes.
Friday the 13th picks up where the 1980 original left off, and includes the death of Jason’s mother. Yet this is no humdrum 1980s slasher film — the movie is filled with clever jokes and witty dialogue. Sure, it’s a bloodbath. But it’s a damn funny one.
The real premise of the film — the part that happens six weeks after the five teens go missing — is what unfolds as Whitney’s brother, Clay (Jared Padalecki), comes to Crystal Lake to find her. The police and locals are unwilling to help him, saying that if someone has gone missing in the woods, they’re already dead. Though he is told to mind his own business, Clay knows better.
Clay then oh-so-conveniently meets up with a group of typical college students who have chosen to get away for the weekend. Among them is Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), the “sensitive hottie,” who tries to help him out. As Clay and Jenna go out into the woods and away from the action, the rest of Jenna’s group start to get murdered (rather violently, of course). Arrows, speedboats, mounted deer heads — anything and everything becomes a weapon.
Trying to watch Friday the 13th with a straight face would be like expecting to get a life lesson out of a Will Ferrell movie: preposterous. The amount of blood and gore is truly incredible, and the premise is implausible at best. All of the previous Jason movies seem to have been abandoned in this latest attempt. Jason starts out wearing a sack on his head, only to curiously pick up a hockey mask while in an attic (where he’s performing another murder, of course). Yet what makes the movie great is that even while watching a bloodbath, the audience can laugh. Possibly the greatest moment in the film is when one of the characters — the complete caricature of a frat boy — breaks down and screams like a girl, bolting in the opposite direction from everyone else.
In a sea of horror flicks trying to simultaneously master cinematography and induce a heart attack, Friday the 13th doesn’t take itself too seriously — it’s actually refreshing. Just try not to cringe too much whenever someone gets impaled or beheaded — you might pull a muscle.