For a guy so committed to the hockey mask as all-purpose eveningwear, Jason Vorhees has amassed a lot of frequent-flier miles over the last three decades. Venturing out from his rural base at Camp Crystal Lake, he’s done Manhattan, explored outer space, even spent time in Hell (but then who among those keeping track of his adventures hasn’t?). Now, in the new [movie id="369154"]“Friday the 13th,”[/movie] he returns to his woodsy roots, casting an occasional backward glance to see if there’s anyone left with an interest in tagging along.
The first thing to be said about this movie is that, despite its title, it is not a remake of the original “Friday the 13th,” which came out in 1980. Instead, the new film is yet another sort-of sequel — the 11th, if you count the one in which Jason was heavily manipulated into hooking up with Freddy Kruger. Here, the big lug returns to his woodsy home turf to play his idiosyncratic version of Whac-A-Mole with a new generation of hot, horny and touchingly dumb youths. The movie is so bereft of excitement, invention, or any of the other qualities normally associated with minimally acceptable filmmaking that watching it quickly becomes an exercise in wishing, with mounting excruciation, that it will end. (Spoiler alert: It finally does, kinda.)
The picture begins with a newly staged flashback to the original film, then leaps ahead into the present tense to bring on a new quintet of clueless teens — two hunks, two babes and a nerd — who are wandering through the woods near Camp Crystal Lake in search of … oh, a patch of wild marijuana, whatever. Since the group includes two nuzzly couples, you wonder at first why there’s a fifth wheel — until night falls, and the nerd decides to wander off into the dark woods to look for that marijuana patch, at which point you wonder why on earth you even wondered. Jason looms up, his signature machete in hand, and soon the flora is wet with flesh.
Next — well, “six weeks later” — another consignment of chattery knuckleheads arrives on the scene. They’ve come to party, and of course so has Jason. In familiar fashion, he begins picking them off one at a time: machete to the head, ax to the head, hand-smack to the head (no, wait, that was me). As the bodies accumulate and the tedium swells, we bide our time waiting for the next requisite interlude of female nudity. Topless waterskiing enlivens one scene, and there’s a long coital encounter that’s made memorable by the featured actress, Julianna Guill, who was born to be naked, if nothing else.
The director, music-video veteran Marcus Nispel, numbers among his two previous feature credits the dismal “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake (also produced by Michael “Shameless” Bay). Since the original “Friday the 13th” is hardly a sacred text (it was a cheapo rip of the 1978 “Halloween,” which seems in comparison a serene meditation on the varieties of cinematic surprise), one wonders why Nispel didn’t trash it up and go for some fun. Instead, he’s delivered a deadpan and exceedingly dull rehash of some of the hoariest slasher clichés. Even Jason seems a little bored by it all. The scariest thing in the movie is the threat of yet another sequel at the end. I’d suggest a return to outer space. Much deeper this time.
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