So I will be the first the admit that my reviews for the entirety of time post 1990 are minimal. I dunno. I'm not gonna argue or anything. I love older movies more than modern films. I liked the intention behind older films so much more, and that's one of those indefinable things that I could go on and on about.
I think the internet age especially is one where we don't have to try and make movies for everyone anymore. We can be just fine making films for a niche audience, and surviving by reaching that niche online. I'm not saying that movies before the internet had to be designed for a mainstream audience. What I'm saying is that producers and filmmakers used to have some sort of an idea of what they would need to do to be watchable by a large audience and not be hated. It seems that more and more films are trying to go against the grain and be weird just to get an internet following, just to attain that legendary cult status.
Not the greatest lead in to Friday the 13th, in fact Friday the 13th has nothing to do with any of this, I'm just thinking about it. Friday the 13th is a film that I saw in theaters when it first came out. I remember not liking it. Then I never watched it again until like 3 nights ago. I thought about either reviewing this or the defining, 5-star film Falling Down with Michael Douglas. There's a lot I could say about Falling Down here, but suffice to say that it's a fantastic film, and it's a shame that the writer never did anything else.
Friday the 13th is flawed, there is no doubt about that. I have a new friend that I've been hanging out with, we're both huge horror film fans. He lent me the 13th, and I was texting him about it later that night. He said, a movie to me is good if it's entertaining. And yes, this movie is entertaining. But I'm sorry, it must take more than that. Friday the 13th is entertaining, and in fact it's not even all bad. It just in no way is a great film, and barely even a good one.
In the pre-credit sequence, we get a flashback of Jason's mother as she is in her last moments. Then cut to present day as Jason kills some guys by the lake as they look for a marijuana farm that's out there. The kills in the beginning, and in the movie entirely, are an easy highlight. That is one point I will say they did well, is that most the kills are good or at least decent. They reference the famous sleeping bag death from Friday the 13th Part 7, and there's the standard machete kills.
Then you have a group of young asshole friends staying at their buddies cabin in the woods....will they never learn? They're accompanied by hunky drifter Clay, and basically they do the same as the marijuana hunters. They have sex, they dick around, and the dialogue drains your will to live as well as the bottle of malt liquor you brought to cut the pain. I'm really trying to remember if there's anything else noteworthy about the plot, but you know what I'm pretty sure that's truly it.
The reason this is entertaining, and even watchable, is that it does bring some interesting concepts to the table. It has a girl that experiments with trying to pretend she's Jason's mom, it has Jason's own cabin he's staying in with some cool sequences there, and it has lots of kill filler, or "kifiller". It also has Jason be more human than he was in some of those previous sequel series. He gets injured, he gets slowed down, he gets knocked out. The Jason in this is average. It was the first time that Kane Hodder wasn't Jason in quite a while, and the actor I guess is fine. I didn't like the close ups of his eye expressions in the mask, but other than that he's fine as a big killer guy.
As it finished though, and they blatantly ripped off the original 1980 Friday the 13th, I had an odd feeling. I wished, for perhaps the first time, that there were second-second rate sequels to this installment. For some reason, despite the fact that the sequels sometimes ruin the film entirely, I thought it'd be incredibly fun to watch, say, a 2011 Friday the 13th where Jason terrorizes a girl scout team that is on a nature hike. Some part of me really wanted to see that. And that was a really cool feeling.
As I grow older, or maybe as these films grow older, parts of me likes them more. I remember dismissing this movie almost entirely when I first saw it 8 years ago. And sure, it sucks. But is it THAT bad? No. I don't think so. It tries, and you know what, it's got some cool things that happen. Sometimes that's all it takes. 3 stars.