“His name was Jason and today is his birthday” -Pamela Voorhees
Friday the 13th is recognized as one of the most memorable and iconic Horror franchises of All Time. Jason Voorhees’ large hulking size, hockey mask, and insatiable need to kill everyone have entertained audiences for nearly forty years. So, why was a reboot necessary for a franchise with eleven films under its belt? What was different about this entry? And is there a chance that we’ll ever get to see our favorite machete wielding killer again?
If you haven’t heard of Jason Voorhees by now that you need to seriously question your love of slasher movies. Friday the 13th didn’t establish the slasher genre, but it drew heavy inspiration from John Carpenter’s 1978 horror classic Halloween. After watching every entry in this long-running franchise, one can start to see the formula that the filmmakers were working with back then. I can sum up most of the films in just a couple of words. Are you ready?
A bunch of young adults travel to or near Camp Crystal Lake. They party, do drugs, have sex until Jason comes along and kills just about everyone. That’s the basic plot and this franchise has hardly strayed from that. The reboot, released on February 13th 2009, is no different but it does add something new to the franchise that we haven’t seen before. Sure, the formula is still the same but this new version of Jason does add something that the franchise can benefit from. Plus, this was a Friday the 13th entry for a new generation of horror fans and the film paid homage to the originals if one were to look closely.
The first thing you will notice is the look of this movie is vastly different from any other Friday. The budget the filmmakers were working with granted beautiful cinematography, especially during the nighttime scenes. I really like looking at this movie and returning once again to see Camp Crystal Lake. Another new thing to take notice is that Jason wears the burlap sack of Friday the 13th Part II fame for a good amount of screen time until he comes across something that will become his signature look. True fans will remember that it was Part 3 when Jason donned the infamous hockey mask.
We all remember how strong Jason is but he always walked slow too. This time around Jason is fast, mobile and agile enough to be considered a hunter. Not only does he use his iconic machete, but we get to see him set traps, visit where he lives and even uses a bow and arrow at one point. It’s these little changes that make this entry stand out among the many others.
While I enjoy the reboot’s look and the changes made to Jason, these is something major wrong with this movie: the characters. They all feel superficial and have no personality beyond the most basic of horror archetypes. There are the hunky looking guys, the women who we just know will take their clothes off, the prick characters who aren’t nice at all, and then the main attraction- Jason himself.
Because these shallow characters are underwritten and underdeveloped, we the audience could hardly care about them except for when and how they are killed. I’ve often wondered why the characters in these movies are so poorly written? Do the screenwriters have no creativity left? Why can’t we for once actually have a plot to make the movie interesting? The movie attempts at having a plot which involves Clay (Jared Padalecki) looking for his sister who went missing around the camp area weeks ago. I do like scene in which he talks to a local woman who says, “We just want to be left alone and so does HE.” But basically, the movie is the same as all the others. It’s setting up some kind of story framework we can follow (if that’s what you want to call it) then waits for Jason to come out and do what he does best.
Although the reboot was a box office success and remains the Friday franchise’s second highest grossing film, we haven’t seen Jason in over a decade on the big screen. I’m not counting Never Hike Alone (2017) which is available on YouTube. Platinum Dunes, who owns the rights to the franchise, recently shelved Jason despite a sequel being written by the reboot’s screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who wrote Freddy vs. Jason. It’s sad to see my favorite slasher being put on the shelf, but I’m sure that this isn’t the last time we’ll see him. He always manages to come back to life.
In truth, the reboot isn’t exactly scary but seeing the new and improved Jason is something that surprised fans and newcomers. He’s adapted to the times, changed up his methods and remains the same hockey-mask wearing killer who deeply loved his mother.
With the release of 2018’s Halloween, Michael Myers is now the reigning horror franchise champion in terms of money. Jason is no longer number one, despite having the highest body count, but Michael is catching up though. With two more Halloween’s releasing in the next two years, horror fans will certainly be pleased but I will always miss Jason. There have been many proposed scripts and storylines that were rejected to keep the Friday the 13th franchise alive but I think what could save it is a decent enough plot to keep the audience interested. We know that Jason didn’t die in this reboot so I don’t want to believe that he’s dead for good.
I recall seeing this on Valentine’s Day a decade ago and the theater was packed. Watching it ten years later, the movie still looks good but overall it’s a tedious experience because the characters are so boring with the exception of two who I won’t mention, but I think you can guess who I’m talking about. Jason’s future is still uncertain but this reboot at least brought some interesting ideas to work with. Whether you’re a fan of Jason or not, Friday the 13th is still a decent enough slasher that is an upgrade from the cheesy ‘80s that have us laughing at the screen instead of sitting there in fear.
Long Live Jason.