New Line // 2009 // 106 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 22nd, 2009
Jason lives. Many will die.
I'll throw my hands in the air and admit that I enjoyed both Jason X and Freddy Vs. Jason. The former was big, goofy fun (with a David Cronenberg cameo!), while the latter was a no-holds-barred slugfest between two champion slashers, even if it wasn't everything fanboys have been dreaming of since the '80s. But, it's been over half a decade since Jason last stalked the shores of Crystal Lake, and a lot has happened. Enter Platinum Dunes, the cats behind the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, who have provided fans with a bizarre reboot/reimagining/sequel hybrid. Fans looking for teenage stupidity, breasts, and gore will be happy with Friday the 13th: Killer Cut (Blu-ray); those looking for the old Jason magic are sure to be disappointed.
After a quick peek at a reshot version of Mrs. Voorhees death, the death that birthed Jason, the film opens with a group of teens in the woods. Half of them are looking for a stash of marijuana, and the other half are there to get laid. Strangely, one of them bears a striking resemblance to Jason's mother, but that doesn't stop Jason from wreaking havoc on the group. Six months later another group of teens are heading to the shores of Crystal Lake, and they meet up with the brother of the young woman with a resemblance to Jason's mother. He (Jared Padalecki, Gilmore Girls) has been searching for his sister since she disappeared, and it's possible that this new group of teens might provide the bait necessary to learn the truth about his sister.
The biggest thing that hit me watching Friday the 13th is how much has changed in horror since the last time we saw Mr. Hockey Mask. Freddy Vs. Jason was released a year before the low-budget Saw was let loose, providing a new paradigm for the decade's horror films. With the rise of so-called "torture-porn," mainstream horror films took on an even more sadistic edge than they had previously. The big mistake of Friday the 13th this time out is an attempt to roll with the recent horror punches. Instead of relying on the tried-and-true formula of previous entries, where kills were inventive and cathartic (since the audience often laughed at the characters both before and during their death) but rarely sadistic. This time out the kills are a little more graphic, they linger a little longer, and they often go for the hurt more than the kill. With one rather cool exception, the kills in Friday the 13th are exchangeable with any recent Saw-inspired horror film rather than the hilariously cool kills of slasher films past. Also, when they're not torture-iffic, the kills can be a little bland.
The other big problem with the film is that it doesn't quite know what it wants to be. It's supposedly a sequel, but the director felt it was necessary to re-film Betsy Palmer's beheading, which gives the film a remake flavor. Then there's the tantalizing bit about Whitney's resemblance to Mrs. Voorhees that could do a lot towards either deepening the mythology or "reimagining" the franchise. Really, however, none of the above succeeds, and the film has to stand on the strength of its kills, which simply aren't up to the task.
This release provides a so-called Killer Cut that adds a bit of gore and nudity. I'm all for that, but it's also 10 minutes longer, and that pads the film out to an unacceptably long running time. Jason works best in the 85 to 95 minute range, and taking him beyond that is just asking for audience boredom. Unless you need the extra blood or boobs, stick with the theatrical cut.
For fans who just want to see some gore, a few bare breasts, and a guy in a hockey mask, Friday the 13th delivers the goods. Although I don't think the kills compare to much of the '80s glory, the red stuff is up to contemporary standards. In fact, those who were longing for a Saw-inspired Friday flick will enjoy quite a bit of the kills in this film. Many will also be pleased by the fact that over half the female characters shuck their tops at some point during the 1060minute runtime. The only one that reaches the previous heights of the franchise is a half-naked wakeboarding scene which also culminates in the film's best kill. As for the hockey-masked one, he's pretty much his usual self this time out, lumbering around and killing people. He seems a little less hulking in this film, and older-school fans will appreciate the presence of both the hockey mask and the burlap sack from sequels previous.
Fans of the film will also be pleased with this Blu-ray release of the film. Both the theatrical and "Killer" cuts of the film are available (both, apparently, rated R), and they both look as good as a recent film can. Some scenes might be a bit dark for some, but that seems more like an artistic choice than a problem with the transfer. Although some scenes are certainly dark, blacks are impressive, and saturation is good in some of the lighter scenes. The audio is a little less impressive, but still occasionally utilized the soundscape to good effect.
Extras include a number of featurettes, including a look at the previous films, as well as the kills in this film. There are also some deleted scenes, and a picture-in-picture trivia track that covers the franchise. This release also includes a digital copy of the film on a second disc. These aren't exactly stellar extras, but they're probably more than most fans expected.
There's still life in the corpse of Jason Voorhees, and he certainly deserves better than this tepid remake/reboot/sequel can muster. Hardcore fans of the series will want to own this for completeness sake, and the Blu-ray's technical quality makes it easy to recommend. Casual fans of the franchise should give this one a spin to see how it stakes up, but most slasher fans should keep it to a rental at best (especially if you're only interested in the film for the train-wreck factor). The original Friday the 13th is a total nostalgia movie for me, and I just don't see anyone looking back fondly on Friday the 13th: Killer Cut.
Guilty of wasting Jason's time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 106 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes