Jason’s back, reimagined, fit, and as vicious as ever. 2009’s Reboot of the franchise pivoted from Jason fighting Freddy or otherwise romping around space to put him back in his old stomping grounds of Crystal Lake. Directed by Marcus Nispel this was part of the surge of late 2000s reboots that burned bright and very short. Now that the fervor has died down, how does it stack up to the rest of its franchise? Scroll down for our spoiler filled review (though honestly who cares about spoilers for this one… Jason kills people, there you have it).
Reviewed by: Mark
Not a lot to talk about this week…
In part 1 of the film, a group a campers venture up to Crystal Lake in search of some fabled ganja that is among the stickiest of ickies, and also growing wild and free. After the group sets up camp they split up to find the aforementioned herb and two of the group stumble onto the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake grounds. While there they find some disturbing memorabilia that seems to indicate that someone is still alive and residing at the camp. As you may expect, Jason soon shows himself and slaughters all of the campers in brutal and sundry ways including one of the best sleeping bag based kills you’ll find in any slasher.
Flash forward 6 weeks and another gang of rambunctious and amoral teens, spearheaded by their douchebag leader Trent (Travis Van Winkle), are heading up to the lake to party and have premarital sex. On their way up they encounter our last player, Clay (Jared Padalecki), who is looking for his sister who had disappeared as part of the earlier troup. After a tense meeting at a local gas station the group and Clay head in their respective directions.
Later, Clay stumbles upon Travis’ lake house and once again gives them a poster of his missing sister. At this point he is joined by Whitney (Amanda Righetti) as he continues his search around the lake. Before long Jason gets back to his slaughtering ways and begins picking off the group one by one, ultimately with the entire group re-converging at the lakehouse. Finally, it comes down to Whitney and Clay as they bolt away from the house and toward Camp Crystal Lake. Upon arrival they find Clay’s sister Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) chained in some underground tunnels beneath the camp. Once she is freed the trio runs for it and Whitney is killed trying to escape. Now just Clay and his sister, they face off against Jason in a nearby farmhouse and are able to wrap him in a chain and drag him into a wood chipper.
As the two toss the mangled body into the lake (and not hand the body over the to cops for some reason) the film ends with one final jump scare as the reinvigorated body of Jason jumps through the docks, grabbing Jenna.
What the Movie Does Right
As far as reboots go, I consider this to be one of the better ones because of the way they translated the villain for more modern times. Instead of the lumbering hulk that is constantly just sort of walking toward you that we know from the original films, Jason is now basically an exceptionally stacked linebacker type that will sprint directly at you and throw axes into your back from across a meadow. He even fights with many of the characters throughout the film and eventually overpowers them, but the struggle is realistic and visceral in a way that is new to the Friday the 13th movies.
Meanwhile they don’t futz around much with the formula. You come to this movie expecting to see some amoral teenagers get torn to shreds and that’s exactly what you get. Many of them get the machete treatment (or other camp related accessories), but each death does still arrive in a fresh and satisfying way. On the podcast, Jack mentioned that Jason is basically the protagonist of the movie and in a weird way he’s right. The general awfulness of the teens juxtaposed with the supernatural capabilities of Jason actually make it so that in most cases you’re rooting for him to dispatch them in interesting ways instead of rooting for them to get away.
The structure of the movie is also really quite phenomenal. The “cold open” of the first group looking for weed in the forest is almost 25 minutes long and ends with an incredibly satisfying charge by Jason in his bag-mask. Then you get the full length 80 minute that happens to be attached to the tail end. It’s more or less a great horror short that is followed by feature film and for whatever reason it works wonders for pacing.
What the Movie Does Wrong
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: it’s really hard for horror movies to have satisfying third acts. After Clay and Whitney are the last ones remaining the movie really starts to drag. There’s no real reason for Jason to take a prisoner and the extra step of creating his underground lair is flavor that really isn’t needed at all. In fact, I’d wager that you could completely remove the Jenna storyline from the plot and have basically not detrimental effect on the story overall.
Story: 3 - Really the only points I’m giving this one is for a “judicious lack thereof” story. It doesn’t go out of its way to overcomplicate things. Aside from that the story that is included is bonkers and full of plot holes and unnecessary Jason-lore.
World-Building / Immersion: 7 - I don’t have many specifics to point to in this category, but this movie just does it for me. I think it’s the combination of how easy it is to hate the kids (particularly Travis) that allows you to not be particularly upset when they’re murdered and in fact root for it in many situations. That’s the recipe for an incredibly interesting and captivating slasher.
Scare-Factor: 6 - Although not making any new or surprising strides this film still has its scare moments. Of particular note is the fresh redesign of Jason as a superhuman linebacker who will sprint directly at you from the woods. This is a scarier than average movie.
Effects (or Judicious Lack Thereof): 8 - This movie looks good, and it should given the budget that it had behind it. The sets are generally quite good (with the exception of the tunnels below Camp Crystal Lake). Jason’s costuming is a good homage to the original films while also being different enough to separate itself from the pack. The blood and gore effects are very solid. It doesn’t do anything absolutely crazy, but what it does it does well.
Overall: 7 - Criticisms of reboots aside, I find this to be a great example of a modern slasher movie:: it’s creative, it keeps moving, the players all have a chance (albeit fruitless) against the villain, and most importantly it’s a fun time. Friday the 13th as a franchise had taken Jason into space at this point so rebooting and bringing Jason home was probably a great move. I will be watching this movie again, and then many times more after that.