Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is how it should be done!

Against the advice of locals and police, Clay (Jared Padalecki) scours the eerie woods surrounding Crystal Lake for his missing sister. But the rotting cabins of an abandoned summer camp are not the only things he finds. Hockey-masked killer Jason Voorhees lies in wait for a chance to use his razor-sharp machete on Clay and the group of college students who have come to the forest to party.

Chi chi chi chi.. Ha ha ha ha.. Repeat these words in a whisper around any horror film fan and they will instantly recognize the “sound” of Friday the 13th. The first film in the series was released in 1980 and featured an unknown Kevin Bacon. In spite of a run of 10 successful sequels the powers that be at Paramount have decided to go back in time and introduce a whole new generation to the world of Jason Voorhees. After a brief prologue which fills the audience in on the legend of Jason (a young boy drowns at summer camp. His mother blames the oversexed counselors for not paying attention and goes on a killing spree only to be beheaded by the last surviving counselor) the words “20 years later” hit the screen and we are introduced to five happy go lucky campers who head to the old Camp Crystal Lake grounds in search of good times and an apparently unlimited supply of marijuana, which grows wild in the woods. Faster than you can say “hold on, let me get my pants off” they are dispatched by the hulking Jason in very creative ways. Clay Miller (Padalecki) is a man on a mission. It’s been more than a month (actually six weeks, as the onscreen credit tells us) since his sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti) and her friends disappeared while camping near Crystal Lake. Unhappy with the job the local police is doing, he is traveling the area on his motorcycle putting up “missing person” notices. At the local convenient store he comes across another group of happy go lucky kids up for a visit. He earns the sympathy of Jenna (Panabaker) who takes a flier and agrees to keep her eyes open. As Clay heads to the next telephone pole to staple a flier the kids head off to their cabin for a weekend of fun. Chi chi chi chi. Ha ha ha ha. I can still remember seeing the original “Friday the 13th.” An above average horror film that set the standard for gore in a mainstream movie thanks to the genius of makeup master Tom Savini. Kevin Bacon with an arrow through his neck. Betsy Palmer’s head rolling on the ground. Pretty tame stuff now in the world of “Hostel” and “Saw,” but 30 years ago it was horrific and terrifying. As the series progressed it followed the same formula of irresponsible kids meeting up with the hockey mask wearing Jason who, despite the fact that he “died” in 1958, moved around pretty well. The new film does a fine job of capturing the terror of the original while distancing itself just enough to stand alone. Director Nispel does a fine job setting up his victims as well as the audience. Rather than use the standard camera angles (character slowly turns into the shot to reveal hulking monster behind him) he paces the scares, keeping the audience alert and on their toes. The cast, as in many films of this genre, is attractive and fun loving. Padalecki does get the chance to show some emotional range and Aaron Yoo mines some genuine laughs as the chronically pot smoking Chewie. Kudos also to Mears, who follows in the footsteps of the great Kane Hodder. Mears, though silent throughout, manages to convey the inner workings of Jason without a single word being uttered. Good job. The special effects are quite good and fairly imaginative, though really there are probably only a few ways to impale a head on something. I was thoroughly pleased. The best horror movie so far this year. A murderous 4 on my "Go See" scale.


Real Live Lesbian said...

HOW can they keep making these? But if you say it's a keeper...I might just have to watch.

What really skeeves me out is the fact that we're going to a remote lodge this weekend. EEEKkkk!

The Optimist said...

Don't talk to stranger wearing hockey masks!