The Friday the 13th series continues to rack up the dollars at the box office, especially with the incessantly low-production costs that the series incurs (this latest entry cost under $20 million to make…and made quadruple that back worldwide). So while some may tire of the series and question why they’re still being made…well, there’s your answer. They’re lucrative. Still, while audiences no doubt grew tired of the ridiculous scenarios that Jason was put in over the years (really, who could forget Jason X), New Line opted to reboot the franchise this time around and place this new 2009 film after the events of the original outing (complete with a small little recap in the beginning, filmed with new actors). The difference was enough to attract another flock of movie goers to the theaters, as there was plenty of gore, murder, and, yes, nudity, to keep audiences engaged.
College kids seeking a weekend of kicks have made a horrible mistake. They’ve come to party at eerie Crystal Lake, the deadly domain of machete-mad killer Jason Voorhees. Terror goes to extremes in this reimagining of the Jason legend for today’s horror fan. Enter for the first time the subterranean lair that is Jason’s den of torture and fear. See him discover the mask that hides his deformed face. Experience a whole new level of fright. And try to remain calm. The intense violence, the unique kills, the jolting scares: live them all in the all-new Friday the 13th!
I’d just come off watching a whole back-log of Friday the 13th sequels by the time this new film landed on my doorstep. Needless to say I was a bit burnt out on the series already, but I gave it the ol’ college try (or whatever that phrase is) and dove into the newest entry to the series. Immediately I was a bit more interested in it as it was neither a remake of the original or a prequel/sequel…no, instead it was more of a Star Trek route in that it didn’t necessarily rewrite history, it just…branched off from it in a different direction. Cool for me as the only cool thing about the series was Jason and he wasn’t even in the original much, so this made for a much more exciting hockey mask murder scenario.
But did it make for a redeemable film? Not really. I enjoyed the gore and whatnot, sure, but there just…isn’t much here that sets itself apart from every other slasher flick. Foot caught in a bear trap and it’s tearing the flesh down the bone? Yeah, sure, it’s brutal, but I saw more gruesome visuals when a pencil was stabbed into someone’s foot in Evil Dead. Of course there was a grisly death with a screwdriver to the throat in this one, but…really, it’s all just ho-hum to me anymore.
So that just leaves the story and…honestly, it was miles more engaging than other films. At least from the standpoint that it had a plot and it wasn’t just focusing on teens having sex (although, don’t get me wrong…there was plenty of that as well, including some of the more graphic sex I’ve seen in terms of gyrations from a horror film but…hey, push those boundaries!), as Jared Padalecki (woo Supernatural!) spent most of the time genuinely looking for his sister who had gone missing at Crystal Lake. In a surprise twist it turns out Jason never even kills her, supposedly due to some resemblance to the girl who killed his mother or something (at least that’s what I got from it—it was all just a very confusing bit of relationship). I suppose that’s a spoiler, but…honestly, I had to talk about it because it was the only interesting thing about the film.
Overall some of the characters death you felt for because they were genuinely nice guys (something about Aaron Yoo is instantly likeable), but for the most part it’s just Jason going around hacking people up. No real explanation for that either, of course, but we’ll have to wait for Rob Zombie to go all Michael Myers on us to understand his “true” motivations. Not that it matters—these films are made for cheap thrills and gut spills, so delving into the reasoning is just completely unnecessary. In terms of horror elements that make you jump…I honestly didn’t budget from my position once, as there just wasn’t anything here that wasn’t predictable in some way. Great shots of Jason randomly appearing behind people and then taking them out, but even those weren’t all that scary. Horror just doesn’t seem to have the same punch it once had…unless it’s a film made in Japan, then those will scare the living crap out of you.
Those looking for cheap thrills will find this one worth a Rental at least as it has some redeemable qualities, but otherwise this is just an excuse to look at some breasts and blood fly around the screen.
Friday the 13th arrives in two editions on DVD and one release on Blu-ray that includes both. Don’t expect to choose which it is you watch, however, as it defaults to the Killer Cut edition and only through the vaguest of options on the menu does it allow you to select the theatrical cut. Not that you gain much from the Killer Cut…just some more gore, but if you have to choose between the two, you won’t get much of anything from either one—they’re both rated R. The release itself arrives in a standard two-disc Elite case (second disc is the digital copy) with instructions on how to redeem the digital copy as well as a code for the Buy 5 Blu’s Get 1 Free promotion that Warner has going on. Menu is simple and easy to navigate, but, as with most Warner titles, the film auto-starts.
The VC-1 encoded film looks great. At least I think it does, as the majority of the film takes place at night the level of detail isn’t exactly brimming. There are some daytime sequences, a bit washed out with a brown tone that show off what the transfers capable of but for the most part the detail here is limited to only the characters and objects that are actually lit. Believe it or not Jason’s underground lair place actually has more lighting in it than anything else in the film. Also included is a TrueHD 5.1 track that does its job of filling the speakers with the films haunting score as well as causing plenty of gruesome sound effects to ooze through the surrounds. Subwoofer output is limited to impacts, gunshots and music only, however…although there was a combination of a swinging ax going through the surrounds and landing with a thud that was quite nice.
Rebirth of Jason Voorhees (11:24, 1080p)
Hacking Back / Slashing Forward (11:41, 1080p)
The Seven Best Kills (22:33, 1080p)
Additional Scenes (8:19, 1080p)
So…yeah, not much. The lengthiest of the above extras, “Seven Best Kills,” just recaps the majority of the kills from the film, so watching this after you watch the movie is kind of redundant. And watching it before would spoil the film, so all these are…well, they’re just glorified chapter stops, basically. The rest of the extras are by-the-books, but they’re all in 1080p so that’s nice (even the deleted scenes!). There is some BD-Live content (including, according to the sticker on the front of the package, a look at “Trick ‘r Treat”…which we’re finally getting, apparently. I remember seeing this trailer on the 300 DVD release), but none of it was accessible at the time of this writing.
Overall a weak release, but…really, the film doesn’t do all that much to impress regardless. For fans it’s Recommended, but for the vast majority…this is a pure Rental.
Friday the 13th arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on June 16th.