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Friday the 13th (2009)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/16/2009

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/13/2009

Available on iTunes

Here's a rhetorical question for you: Why do Producers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, and Michael Bay seem determined to remake every classic horror movie? I call this a rhetorical question because we know the answer: to make money. They would probably tell us that they want to bring these classic stories to a new audience. That rationale doesn't fly because with home video, the audience can go find the old movie. They might also say that they want to take these films, which were mostly low-budget affairs, and give them a new shine. That's not necessarily a good reason to remake a movie, but it does make a certain sense. And if you go into Friday the 13th with this kind of thinking, then you may not hate it.

Friday the 13th opens in 1980, where we see Mrs. Voorhees (Nana Visitor) chasing a camp counselor (Stephanie Rhodes). As Mrs. Voorhees says something about how she's "killed all of the others" and her son Jason drowning, the counselor beheads her. We then see a young boy come out of the forest. The story then leaps ahead to the present. A group lead by Wade (Jonathon Sadowski) and including Whitney (Amanda Righetti), are hiking through the forest, looking for a marijuana crop. As they make camp, they are attacked by a large man wearing a sack on his head.

The story then moves forward to several weeks later. Whitney's brother, Clay (Jared Padalecki), is in the Crystal Lake area searching for his missing sister. He encounters a group of weekend partiers -- Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), Trent (Travis Van Winkle), Chewie (Aaron Yoo), Bree (Julianna Gull), Nolan (Ryan Hansen), Chelsea (Willa Ford), and Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta) -- at a gas station. Later on, Clay finds his way to the extravagant lake house where the group is staying. While Trent is hostile towards Clay, Jenna agrees to comb the area with him. Soon, they find themselves at the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake, a scene which is littered with trash and odd artifacts. Meanwhile, a newly hockey-masked Jason (Derek Mears) is stalking the revelers. Will anyone survive?

I'm what you could call a casual fan of the Friday the 13th series at best. I've seen all of the movies and I have the DVDs and Blu-rays, but I don't really consider any of them to be "classics". When I learned of the remake or "reimagining", I was neither surprised nor upset. When a series already has 11 entries, why would anyone balk at a 12th? Just look at the movies in the original series -- the stories became such a jumbled mess that going back to the beginning and taking another shot at things actually made some sense. The question is, can this film bring anything new to the table?

The answer to that question (there have been a lot of questions in this review!) is yes and no. Let's begin by looking at the story. The original 1980 Friday the 13th was a murder mystery where it was revealed that Pamela Voorhees had been killing camp counselors as a way to avenge the death of her son. Jason, an odd-looking child, was only revealed in a brief scene in the finale, and we weren't sure if he was even real. In Friday the 13th Part 2, which supposedly takes place only a few months later, Jason is revealed to be a fully-grown adult who lives in the woods. Despite the fact that this doesn't make any sense at all, Friday fans have never really complained about it. In this new Friday the 13th, there is still a huge plot-hole in the fact that Mrs. Voorhees apparently thinks that Jason is dead, but at least we are told that the main story is taking place nearly 30 years later. The movie shows us that Jason has remained at the now defunct Camp Crystal Lake (which is closed, but someone has left everything behind) and has made a crude life for himself there. Is the mythology intact? Only the most die-hard Friday the 13th fan would say that it isn't.

Beyond the main plot, however, the movie is essentially a slickly made version of any other slasher flick. After the movie takes its time to introduce two pre-title sequences and puts forth a bit of an effort into character development, the story devolves into a series of scenes where the various characters are stalked by Jason. There is a fairly standard amount of gore and an ample amount of nudity. Despite this, it doesn't always feel like a Friday the 13th movie. The scenes in the house are more reminiscent of something like Scream. The Camp Crystal Lake set is like a cross between Jeepers Creepers and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (which was helmed by Director Marcus Nispel).

So, what's the verdict? (More questions!) Well, fist of all, in the battle of the remakes featuring the Winchester Brothers from Supernatural, Jared Padalecki beats cast-mate Jensen Ackles, whose My Bloody Valentine 3-D was a stinker. Otherwise, Friday the 13th is a slickly-made slasher movie which offers a nice-looking cast and some gory murders. There is a gothic, creepy feel to some scenes, but otherwise you've seen it before.

Friday the 13th is remarkably good with a bow and arrow on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc features a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 19 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The image is just a hint dark, but the action in the night-time scenes is always visible. The colors look good and the skin tones are natural-looking. The daytime scenes have very nice depth and the detail level is above average. The Disc has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and average of 1.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a good track, as the stereo effects are prevalent and nicely detailed. The stereo separation is good. The surround sound effects during the action scenes are good, and the thunder is all around at times. These same thunder sounds bring nice subwoofer action.

The Friday the 13th Blu-ray Disc contains a small assortment of extras. "The Rebirth of Jason Voorhees" (11 minutes) is a making of featurette which plays like the standard EPK. We get comments from the cast and filmmakers, as well as a nice amount of on-set footage. As with so many Friday the 13th extra features, the speakers like to talk about how iconic and powerful Jason is. Whatever. The Disc contains 3 ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 8 minutes. We get a completely different version of the death scene where Jason gets his mask. There is also an alternate take from the finale. The viewer can choose to watch the film with the "PIP with Trivia Track" option. This provides "pop-up" factoids about the movie, as well as behind-the-scenes video which has comments from cast and crew. "Hacking Back/Slashing Forward" (12 minutes) offers interviews with the cast and crew where they reminisce about seeing the original Friday the 13th movies and talk about their involvement in the new film. "The 7 Best Kills" (23 minutes) aren't from the whole series, but just from this movie. The piece goes on-set to show how the seven deaths were done.

Warner Home Video has also brought Friday the 13th to DVD. The film is letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors are good, but the image is somewhat flat. The DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good, and the water skiing scene delivers good surround sound. The action scenes contains some good bass effects.

The Friday the 13th DVD contains only two extras, "The Rebirth of Jason Voorhees" and the ADDITIONAL SCENES.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long