This is Jeff Bayer, and I don't update this site very often. If you'd like to listen to my current movie podcast you can find it at MovieBS.com.

He said - She said ... Friday the 13th

It's once again time for He Said/She Said. With he (Nick Allen) and she (Morrow McLaughlin) talking about Friday the 13th. He Said

Wow. This movie was a blast. As a fan of the entire franchise, I was thrilled to near death by this reboot, starting at the very beginning with the killing of Jason's mom, and continuing until the very end of the movie. In fact, the extensive opening that ends with the film's title card had the audience (and myself included) applauding and cheering. Much like the rest of the film, the sequence was tense, hilarious, and ultimately - horrifying.

The film has obvious "faults", (meaning cliches and people assisting in their own demise in some dumb way), but like last month's My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Friday embraces such elements for the sake of good ol' slasher fun. To audiences it should be obvious that certain characters will get brutalized and killed in some horrifying way (I suppose I say this because some members of my audience didn't think so, and continued to make unfunny chide remarks throughout). Smarten up people - especially with mainstream slashers, the game isn't going to change too much. However, also like the My Bloody Valentine remake, this film continues the wonder of the un-obvious that makes watching teenagers getting hacked still great fun. Many of the kills in Friday are "rewarding" in a horror sense - they're genuinely surprising, despite being lead by tension (which at times was wonderfully unbearable). With a few instances, the film is a bit greedy with the "look behind you!" kill, which mars a bit of Friday's fun. Still, for some of the ways that the film reaches grotesque gloriousness, this reboot is worth it.

An interesting, yet probably wise choice with this reboot, was the changing of the film's killer, (it becomes apparent five minutes into the movie). It was equally pleasing to see that this reboot hadn't dropped the Mrs. Voorhees story entirely (it is re-done in the opening credits). In fact, much of this version of Friday the 13th is a compilation of the original first three, borrowing the most important elements into a successful mix that both justifies the franchises' history and allows this new version to get to the good stuff. It was great to see many elements such as the head in Jason's humble abode, Jason's original "sack head" look, and even the idea that his mother's possessions help "influence" him. And dare I say it, this reboot continued the bloody fun found in some of the franchise's best film's.

She Said

Unfortunately, I forgot my detachable penis, so I didn't enjoy this brainless, sexist exhibition of stupidity and gore. I tried stuffing socks down my pants, but it didn't do the trick and I was left on my own with my estrogen and my IQ intact. Although I was pretty amused by the guys behind me chanting "Titties! Titties!" because it summed up the bulk of the experience rather tidily.

In these types of movies the protagonists are divided into two groups: the fodder that dies right away, and the fodder that survives longer than they should because they have all the good sense of lobotomized lemmings. And added to that mix is the fact that whenever a female is impaled, she's shirtless and flaunting her big, greased up double-ds and what you have is your run-o-the-mill tepid facsimile slasher flick. Yawn. How can something so cookie-cutter make you so enthused? It could almost be fill in the blanks, it's so obvious.

What's so entertaining about watching a mass-murderer cut his way through a sea of unpleasant idiots? Challenge us a little! Give us a protagonist we actually give a semi-rat's ass about. And what's with the unrelenting formula of "moron wanders off in the dark and then meets his demise?" Really? After all these slasher movies this is still the only situation we can come up with?


He Said

I'm confused. You went to a multi-plex slasher movie (that has been remade, by the way) and didn't expect it to be a "brainless, sexist exhibition of stupidity and gore"? Maybe you did, and I could be wrong. But for what Friday the 13th was, what it tried to do and what it offered, I think it was successful. Of course the chicks are going to be naked, and the guys aren't going to be entirely likable. I agree, that the "moron wanders off into the dark" got a bit repetitive, but for me that formula is not one to be completely disregarded. Sure, it has seen better days, but with Friday the 13th, at least it got creative with where it took such idiocy.

The answer to "how could I be so enthused?" can be found in the creativity and surprise of some of the kills. We all know death is coming when the music turns up, or when a person is by themselves in some place with sharp objects in close vicinity. But still, the uncertainty of what was going to happen was real for me, thus creating tension, and thus creating what I thought was a fulfilling and fun horror experience. Part of my enthusiasm comes as being somewhat of a Friday the 13th fanboy, considering the previously mentioned references to earlier films.

For me, this movie is a lot like the later films in the franchise, which were not as quality as the earlier days, but still offered a good deal of fun. At the least, they were amusing with some of their kills or some of their ridiculous plotlines (the writers were desperate to bring Jason back to life and always had to find some way to do so). Part of my enthusiasm probably comes from that - I was content with a bloody 90 minutes that may have lacked some creativity but it offered the bloody disgusting thrills.

Perhaps I'm giving the movie too much leeway of dumbness, or perhaps you went in expecting too much. By no means did I plan on this film to be some type of revelation or change. But for what it offered, it succeeded, and thus, I am happy. And it's more than the kind of happiness that comes from seeing an old friend. REBOOTED!
She Said
You're not nearly as confused as I am. So ... you anticipated unoriginality and stupidity? If I were to sum up your response it seems to be: "Yes it's dumb, misogynistic, and totally formulaic, but it's a fantastic representation of the dumb, misogynistic and totally formulaic genre!" Is it too much to ask that they actually make an intelligent slasher film? Intelligent horror is possible (Let the Right One In; The Descent; The Orphanage; Pan's Labyrinth; The Ring).

It seems to me that you went into this movie with expectations that were so subterranean that you were pleased with any dreck the filmmakers threw at you. And for the record, the only semi-creative kill was the burning sleeping bag. I'll give you that the first 25 minutes of the film are forgivably average, but only because it takes the movie that long to introduce itself. The rest of it was utter tripe.

And if you were a chick, you might feel differently about the disturbing need to butcher topless women. What if every dude that was killed had to be naked, thereby drawing some lunatic correlation between sexuality and gore? I wonder if you'd be so tra-la-la about it.

It's this kind of movie that degrades the artistry of horror.

He Said
Perhaps my expectations were at straight-to-DVD level, but I believe for me it was more of the idea that expecting "an intelligent slasher film" out of a remake that spawned 10.5 films was basically futile. Our differences expand far beyond the horror genre also, as it seems to be turning into a debate of preference with what I like to differentiate as "films" and "movies" - a confrontation that ages (as we all know), far before 2009. For example, Let The Right One In was a "film" with substance, credible characters, beautiful cinematography, and even moments of originality (despite borrowing from a fair amount of vampire character elements). However, this horror movie, as "degrading" to the genre as it might be, was a "movie" - a mindless spectacle of whatever it promised that seemed to be more focused on being released on its title day than most of anything else. It thrilled in the process, which was a great plus.

For what it was, or rather, what it offered, Friday the 13th was a fun experience, one that I do not regret. Of course there's an issue with this kind of movie not having the brains or creativity of Pan's Labyrinth, but like other "movies" to "films" this doesn't want to be anything it's not. Friday just entertains, banks on its record-breaking weekend, and then serves up more episodes until the demand dwindles beyond financial expectations. This is exactly what happened when the original came out in 1980, and I wouldn't mind if it happened again.

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