By Roger Moore
With any luck, this film franchise will tank.
Let’s celebrate “Friday the 13th” with a little red meat, shall we? And hard numbers.
There are 13 grisly deaths in the re-boot of “Friday the 13th” — machete decapitations, an arrow through the head, somebody burned to death in a sleeping bag — you know the slasher drill. The murders are for shock and comic effect.
Three nubile young things take their tops off. 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 series that helped turn simple slasher pictures into a formula for success. It may 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 for a second makes us care.
For the opening, we’re treated to 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 a new group of 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). 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 one is about 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 plot holes so big you could drive a Zamboni through them.
“Friday the 13th” has no more room for “feeling” or “fearing” than “My Bloody Valentine.” At least last month’s slasher re-boot had 3D. “Friday” skimps on suspense and cuts straight to the beheadings. We may feel worried, for a second, when an actor we recognize (Aaron Yoo from “Disturbia,” still playing college potheads at 30) 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 “Motoring” 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, three-toothed local, every random moment of nudity (topless water skiing, there’s a r sum 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 “Friday the 13th” will enjoy another decade as the unluckiest day of the year for horror fans.