Movie review: 'Friday the 13th' is a reboot with little in the way of actual horror

  • Article by: DANIEL GETAHUN , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 19, 2009 - 11:19 PM

The latest installment in the "Friday the 13th" franchise may please old fans, but new audiences may find it falling short.

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Jason (Derek Mears, right) crashes through a window and grabs Clay (Jared Padalecki, left) in "Friday the 13th."

Photo: John P. Johnson,

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Considering the countless cold-blooded murders that Jason Voorhees has committed over the past 30 years, in the spirit of Valentine's Day it's worth remembering he originally began slaughtering people out of adoring love -- albeit for his mother, but love nonetheless.

Now, a full dozen movies after the original "Friday the 13th," the hockey-mask-wearing maniac returns in what's being cleverly marketed as a "reboot" of the franchise instead of a remake of the original film. Produced by Michael Bay and directed by Marcus Nispel (the same team behind 2003's failed "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake), this new installment boasts plenty of topless women and gory violence, but little in the way of actual horror.

Having traveled in recent films to such exotic locales as hell, the future and Manhattan, Jason is comfortably back home at Camp Crystal Lake. Disturbing his Walden Pond-like retreat -- where he no doubt fishes daily and enjoys living "green" -- is yet another group of sexually charged, alcohol-fueled twenty-somethings. It remains unclear why people continue to spend weekends at a place known almost exclusively for its frequent bloody massacres, but if you wonder about details like that, "Friday the 13th" is probably not your kind of movie.

For his part, Jason has been hard at work developing some impressive murdering techniques (now a skilled archer and hatchet thrower, he might consider competing in ESPN's "Great Outdoor Games"), although he still has a knack for patiently standing in silence behind his victims for three seconds before butchering them with his trusty machete.

Loyal fans of the "Friday the 13th" series will probably appreciate these attempts at recapturing Jason's original character, and they may even find this new installment to be the best in the past two decades. But to acquire a new generation of fans, it should be either horrifying or hilarious, and this "Friday the 13th" is ultimately neither.

Daniel Getahun is a Minneapolis writer who blogs at getafilm.blogspot.com.

  • FRIDAY THE 13TH

    ★★ 1/2 out of four stars

    Rating: R for violence, sexual content, language, drugs.

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