Movie News & Reviews

‘Friday the 13th': New version doesn't scare or make you care

Let's celebrate Friday the 13th with a little red meat, shall we?

There are 13 grisly deaths in the reboot of Friday the 13th — machete decapitations, an arrow through the head, somebody burned to death in a sleeping bag. The murders are for shock and comic effect.

Three nubile young things take off their tops. Two of them have hot sex with not-nearly-as-naked guys in the same forest by the same Crystal Lake where all those camp counselors were butchered back in 1980.

This Michael Bay production is a graphic homage to the film series that became a successful formula for simple slasher pictures. It might have Bay's big-budget sheen, and it's every bit as efficient and heartless as the original Fridays, but for all its attempted jolts, it's not all that scary. The genre is reduced to “Who gets it next and how?” and never makes us care.

It opens with a blameless quintet of pot lovers murdered after they come to the ruined Camp Crystal Lake because there's weed growing there. “Six weeks later,” we meet seven young people on a beer-and-booze blast at the rich boy's daddy's cabin. A hunky biker (Jared Padalecki) is looking for his missing sister (she was in the first five to die). Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) wants to leave her sex-shots-skiing-and-bong-hitting friends to help him find her.

The difference between the worst slasher film ever and the best is as wide as a machete blade. They all turn bloody, horrific murders into comic sport, all feature faceless, soulless masked (hockey, etc.) slashers and all have huge plot holes.

Friday the 13th has no more room for “feeling” or “fearing” than My Bloody Valentine. At least that slasher remake from last month had 3-D. Friday skimps on suspense and cuts straight to the beheadings. We might feel worried, for a second, when an actor we recognize (Aaron Yoo from Disturbia) wanders into a workshop filled with cutting tools and sharp objects. Only for a second, though.

We can laugh at the GPS/iPod nerd (Jonathan Sadowski) who sings Sister Christian at the top of his lungs in the middle of the forest and see that he'll be the first to die — it's only right.

But with every cheap scare, every surly local, every random moment of nudity (topless water skiing: There's a résumé skill!), Friday the 13th feels more quaint. For all its social ills, there is one good that came from Hostel and its torture-porn cousins: The simple “slasher” formula doesn't cut it anymore.

The only terror here is that this Friday will be a hit, and for another decade, Friday the 13th will be the unluckiest day of the year for horror fans.

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