It would be easy to call the 2009 Friday the 13th a remake. It came out around the time a lot of remakes of popular 70’s and 80’s horror films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but you can’t help but feel that this fails to fall into that mould.
For one thing, the very first film, which was so popular that it knocked Empire Strikes Back off the number one spot in cinemas, doesn’t follow Jason Vorhees at all, with it instead being his mother, Pamela Vorhees. Not only does this new film recount the events of the very first Friday the 13th within the opening titles, thereby giving any unfamilar audience members the info they need to get started, but the events that fill up the rest of the film aren’t a retread of any of the existing sequels.
Yes, Jason comes across a group of teens who do drugs, drink, and have sex so therefore need to be punished with brutal deaths, but that happens in all of the films and is more a trope of the series and horror films in general than a specific scenario. This Friday the 13th follows the formula of the series, but tells its own story. So can it really be a remake?
Whether a remake or not, it’s pretty damn good. Horror franchise sequels can often get a bad reputation, mostly due to their flimsy plot and excuses to ramp up the killings and gore factor, and Friday the 13th is no exception to this. Instead of trying to compete with these old films the 2009 version chooses to tell its own story instead.
READ MORE: Friday the 13th – Ranking the Franchise
Twenty five years after watching his mother (played by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s Nana Visitor) Jason Vorhees (Derek Mears) stumbles across a group of teens camping up at the remains of Crystal Lake where he has been living. Whilst attacking and killing the group he discovers that one of the girls, Whitney (Amanda Righetti) looks like his mother, and kidnaps her. Several weeks later Whitney’s brother Clay (Jared Padalecki) is searching for his missing sister when he comes across a group of teens heading up to a cabin near Crystal Lake for a weekend of partying. Clay and the teens soon become the targets of Jason.
It’s a fairly standard kind of horror set-up, and doesn’t contain anything revolutionary, but the plot around Whitney looking like Pamela Vorhees and her brothers search adds a little something extra to the standard partying teens get killed scenario. The teens are the standard mix of attractive Hollywood teens, but have some pretty good actors amongst them, including Ben Feldman from Superstore, Travis Van Winkle from The Last Ship, and Danielle Panabaker from The Flash. They’re a great mix of actors, all of whom are able to pull of the silly teenager shenanigans, yet also portraying the fear and desperation of people being hunted by a killer.
If there’s one cast member who stands out, however, it’s Jared Padalecki as Clay. Honestly, this is just a personal thing, but after years of seeing him play Sam Winchester in Supernatural watching him searching for a missing girl and having to fight an unstoppable, almost supernatural killer kind of threw me because I was just waiting for Jensen Ackles to turn up too. Whether or not he was cast in the role because he would essentially be doing the same thing he’d been doing for years on TV it’s great casting, as he’s clearly very comfortable in this kind of role.
The film is full of vicious killings, some of which are gruesome to watch, yet the filmmakers manage to keep things from going too far into the gore territory and become off-putting. The main thing that may put some people off the film would be the nudity over the violence. Whilst the violence is fairly toned down and less gory for a slasher film Friday the 13th embraces the old sensibility of showing their characters having sex. They don’t just make it clear through scripting and direction that two people have gone off to have sex, they show Juliana Guill naked on top of her costar. This is sure to appeal to some, most likely teenage boys, but feels a little gratuitous and unnecessary.
A new addition to the Friday the 13th franchise, the film takes the best parts of the series and does its own thing, telling a fairly well rounded story that makes more sense than some of the previous entries. With smart direction, good cinematography, and a well cast group of actors it stands up as a pretty darn good addition to the series.
Are you a fan of Friday the 13th? The (sort of) remake? Let us know.