The reset button has been pushed, and all those Zombie Jason years have been erased. With the “Michael Bay” sanctioned re-imagining, Jason is back to being a backwoods retard with a (literal) axe to grind.
That axe, of course, is to be ground because he actually saw his mother beheaded lo those many years ago, and he is pissed. Pissed enough… to kill anyone who comes into his stretch of woods, I guess. Which would be all fine and good, except for the fact that Jason’s stretch of woods is just busting with weed. Did Jason grow this weed? If so, the guy has got a green thumb. In any case, he is very protective of his pot, which draws irresponsible teens like flies to shit. And when they try to take his stash, Jason goes batshit.
This Jason is still wearing the sack over his head, though. No hockey mask (yet), although the machete is firmly in place. How does this Jason differ from the Jason’s of yore? Well, he hustles for one thing. This Jason has no problem breaking into a trot to catch his prey. He also demonstrates some skills that would have to be in place for someone living off the land for the last twenty plus years. He strings one girl up and slow-roasts her over a campfire, and catches another kid in a bear trap.
I would have liked to have seen more of this Jason. I was really looking forward to seeing a Jason who has been living alone in the woods for all these years. What skills would he have? At one point, we see him dispatch a kid with a bow and arrow, but other than that, he is pretty much sticking with his tried and true machete.
This was such a good chance to dig into the “hunter/gatherer” Jason- can’t you imagine the creepy shit he has had to do just to survive in the woods? And when we see his lair (which has access to a local mine shaft as well, giving him a lot of space to store wheelchairs and victims who remind him of his mom), wouldn’t it have been more interesting to get an idea as to how this guy exists on a day to day? There is a fleeting glimpse of an old TV with a big hole in it. What was on TV the day that Jason had enough and smashed it to shit? Maybe the episode of Dallas when it was discovered that Bobby was alive and the previous season had been a dream.
That said, was it a decent Friday the 13th? Yeah, I guess it was. When you lay down a checklist of everything you’d want in a movie of this ilk, I would be willing to bet that almost every little box would be checked. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, and it reins in the ludicrous and supernatural nature of what the character had become. But it wasn’t even as strong as the recent remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which seemed to embrace its characters more.
So what did it get right?
- Jason can feel pain again? Cut him, he bleeds.
- It looks good- Camp Crystal Lake is in tatters, but looks just like what an abandoned summer camp would look like. Creepy.
- It moves fast and gives the audience at least four “applause” moments.
- They don’t shy away from the nudity.
- The first 20 minutes are pretty awesome.
- It earns its ‘R’ rating. I hate PG-13 horror movies.
What did they get wrong?
- As I said, they dropped the ball into making Jason a truly creepy backwoods psycho.
- Not a really scary movie, although it does give you a lot of “jump in your seats” moments. For a movie that cultivates a sense of dread, see The Strangers.
- He just finds the hockey mask? That is almost as weak as how he got it in Chapter VIII.
- The protagonists and redshirts are some of the worst of the entire series. There is no attempt to make them into anything beyond weed-smoking fuck machines. Remember Jimmy and Ted in Chapter IV? Ginny and her psychology degree in Chapter II? At least an attempt was made in character arcs. It doesn’t seem like it would make much of a difference, but it does.
- You can’t introduce a wood chipper and then not deliver. Never has a protagonist slacked on finishing the bad guy since Jamie Lee Curtis dropped the butcher knife in Halloween.
Anyway, I had a good time, and would recommend it to anyone without ridiculously high standards for one of these movies. In other words, if you haven’t just watched all these movies and written a 13 piece series on the minutiae of it all, you will probably think it is just fine.
Which it is.