Saturday, May 30, 2009

472 - Friday the 13th (2009) review



The latest “Friday the 13th” is yet another example of the Hollywood-based war between script and production. Technically, there’s virtually nothing to complain about: the budget is ample, the production values top-notch, the acting sufficient. On the other hand, the story is one that could be generated by an 8th grader with a cursory knowledge of slasher film formula and a B- in English. It’s without artistic or financial risk, in effect being about as close to factory-assembled as a movie can possibly get. Writing is excruciatingly hard, but most of us have written sentences that took more creative energy than the whole script for a film like this.

So what can I say about “Friday the 13th,” which is a franchise reboot instead of a sequel? These sorts of films are almost review-proof, but not quite. Certainly, some are better than others, even though they tend to feel approximately the same to anyone who is not an aficionado. I can think of a few things to note, should anyone be on the fence:

1. It’s appropriately bloody and unpleasant, but compared to the torture porn that has been so prolific in theaters over the past few years, it’s a walk through the park.

2. The characters are as disposable as tissue paper, with about the same texture. A bunch of people in their teens and early twenties (played mostly by actors pushing 30) take a trip to the woods. They’re terrorized by a hockey mask wearing brute named Jason, and by “terrorized” I mean “butchered.”

3. This film supplies not one but two groups of victims, with a total of zero characters for us to care about. Then again, would we want to? That would sort of be like naming a goose and treating it like your pet until you chop its head off the day before Christmas.

4. Since it’s just about impossible to care whether or not any of these people live or die, so we really just wait to see how. They tend to expire painfully but quickly, with the exception of a poor woman roasted over a fire. Anyone who has sat through a “Saw” film will have difficulty conjuring much disgust. There’s an endorsement if I ever read one: “I had difficulty conjuring much disgust.” I’d suggest that this would make for a better date movie, but I wouldn’t really know, because I’ve never allowed a date to choose the movie before.

5. There are a number of topless women, all of whom get the axe. What is it with slasher films and their duty to off every character that has sex or acts provocatively? The same goes for marijuana use, another death sentence for slasher characters. Between these two behaviors, virtually every college student that would ever stumble into a slasher film plot would be exterminated. It’s a grim sort of Puritanism: sex is bad, weed is bad, murdering people who have sex is fine and/or smoke weed is fine.

1 comment:

Blake Badker said...

ok james i'm pushing 30... i'm wondering when the "generation" below me is gonna get pissed off and quit caring about movies that came out from the 80s basically.

it's like hunter thompson said before he died, "we've become a nation of losers." and not the good beck hansen losers, dildos who live in the past cinematically and kind of musically. i like how every college town musician likes the stones but none of them like any band from today with any consensus. that's because retro is de stilj and no one takes risks and just admits that white stripes and the strokes and kings of leon are the best bands. in that mind-numbing field there's always a trillion self-important geniuses ready to just slide their opposite-doing lever underneath something the mainstream successes do.

the sad thing is this friday thirteen movie is just as much an exploitation film as the chic exploitation films you can dig up from the 70s. but the high budget makes it the epitomy of crap - crap+crap= total crap.

back to the hunter idea it is like the "little motel" song by modest mouse - everyone's just waiting and re-living the good times culturally. that's when you gotta go kick loose and get drunk and break things i think. that's when i spose in the 2020's we're really gonna have a good ol' roaring 20's revival and then i get to feeling way too astrological...

the real problem is in this time of war art sucks because people suck and are afraid and get into bar fights way too much unlike in the 1980s when everything was super smooth and yuppied out and everyone just inhaled mountains of cocaine and grass and cheap beer and told michael j fox jokes instead of punching each other. this gave way to the kobain victim syndrome and the dotcom-tupperware self loathing that turned us into brad pitt wannabe fight club fascists.

and now here we are shoving friday the 13th up our ass for the upteenth time STILL waiting for a new idea.