Sunday, 17 March 2013

Friday the 13th (2009)

“Your tits are stupendous”

I don’t usually go on about such things as DVD menus, compulsory trailers and the like, but this DVD package is bloody awful. You are forced to sit through a couple of trailers after you’ve pressed play. These cannot be skipped, and they just go on and on in a loop with no sign of the film starting. We only got to the film by means of the scene selection. If you ask me, this is something of a basic failing. Approach this DVD with caution.

What of the film itself, though? You know what I’m like with remakes. Usually I don’t see the point, unless they are trying something genuinely new, such as Little Shop of Horrors- remaking a dark comedy into a musical. I wasn’t expecting to see much point in this one, but I can see the reasoning. It isn’t that the original has dated- these things happen- but, post-Scream, it is impossible to watch without a raised eyebrow. Besides, Jason isn’t in it. Well, not much. This remake seizes the chance to remake the film for a post-Scream audience who expect to see Jason, wearing his iconic mask, in Friday the 13th.

There are some nice little nods to the previous film. The flashback scenes at the beginning are set in 1980, the year the original film was released. But this film enjoys better, and far less clichéd, acting and dialogue. The music, which owes a lot to the work of  Trent Reznor, is both bloody good and not clichéd as was the original score.
Another nice little update, of course, is that our unfortunate teens are not camp counsellors but looking to find weed to sell. Society has changed a lot in thirty years.

There are no famous actors in the film, but this is of course necessary. Any famous actors, we would expect, should be pretty much safe until the end of the film. Characters die in the reverse order of relative fame of the actors who play them. The casting of unknowns here means we have no clue.

Some things never change, though. Having sex generally leads to a violent death. Plus, with one major exception, it tends to be bad sex, generally interrupted. There’s a nice little commentary on the clichés of the slasher film in the fact that the standard plot of a slasher is compressed into the opening few minutes of the film, whereas the original took ninety minutes. The rest of the film, while in many ways repeating the same sorts of events more slowly, does so with characters who have dimensions which would not have existed in a slasher made thirty years previously.

This film is blatantly better made than the original. However, the modern direction and cinematography, with its slickness, lacks the shocks of the original, which, being relatively primitive, still made you jump. Still, there is much to admire here. The deaths are pleasingly graphic, while the characterisation, unlike in the original, are thoroughly realistic. Even the sex scenes are believable.

Most intriguing, of course, is that Jason just appears. We’re not given any explanation. He never talks. Is he supernatural? We’re not told. Arguably, this makes the character more scary. What can be scarier than the unknown?

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