As we draw closer to the end of the month, you knew we’d save some of the best slasher movies for last. Friday the 13th is one of my favorite horror movies, and I have been watching it since I was a little girl. I think I was 8 the first time I saw it. When I was 10, I went to camp and was cautious of my surroundings because of this movie. Few movies can do that nowadays.
There are several differences between Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th (2009), but I must point out something important. The 2009 movie is not a remake of the original. From the opening scene, Jason’s story has already happened. His legend lives and haunts campsites everywhere. His story is told around the campfire as if it’s happened several times. It’s also not a sequel because it cannot and does not fit into the series. And in the 2009 version, Jason is the killer. Horror fans know that doesn’t happen until Friday the 13th Part II.
Friday the 13th – The Original
The original Friday the 13th is well done and follows suit with many horror movies from this time period that try to prevent teens from having sex and partying. If you don’t behave, you’ll die. This message is classic of the genre, and there is a final girl.
One of my favorite things about it is the sound; it is a very quiet movie. You hear rain, crickets and frogs outside, and the music only comes in when the killer does. I miss that. Nowadays, either everything is filled with music for soundtracks or talking. We don’t need constant conversation, especially if people are telling you what they see. One reason this movie is so effective as a creepy camp movie is because there is natural sound. You hear the natural environment, which puts you into the movie. There are also incredible shots of the lake and surrounding area. You want to feel relaxed, but there’s a psycho killer disrupting it. The score pays tribute to Hitchcock’s Psycho, and audiences clearly see the people who made this movie are old-school horror fans.
Spoiler alert: Jason’s mom, Mrs. Voorhees is the killer. I really love this. In the slasher cannon, a woman is seldom the killer, and even though she’s tiny, her rage and disdain for teenagers is pretty awesome. She harbors her son’s spirit and uses that to fuel her motivation. More importantly, she has clear motivation, which is something the 2009 version lacks. The final fight scene between Mrs. Voorhees and Alice feels real. They roll around, pull hair, scream and squeal, hit each other, and Alice decapitates her in the end. The final fight is entertaining, fun, and the end of the movie serves as a perfect set up to a sequel or conclusion.
Friday the 13th – The Homage
I have to say I don’t love Friday the 13th 2009. I have so many issues with the movie-making decisions, and I can’t compare the original with the 2009 version because they’re completely different. By today’s standards, the 2009 version is OK, not great. I think it was so popular because Jared Padalecki stars in it. Supernatural fans probably saved this movie from bombing.
However, his character is completely useless. The first time I watched Friday the 13th 2009, I was furious that his costar Danielle Panabaker – at a whopping 5’6” – saves him several times. Spoiler alert: She dies. This is where the 2009 version screwed up most. They had the opportunity to do something few slashers have done: Have two final girls. This could have put the movie at the forefront of the girl-power movement before girl-power was a movie trend. Her death was unnecessary and leaves you wondering why they invested so much into her character.
The main characters are probably my biggest problem with this movie. They are idiots and make terrible decisions, and they have no development. The two minor guys Chewie and Lawrence are the best characters in the movie. These guys add comedic relief and have likable qualities, and you actually care when they die. Most everyone else you want to see die.
I also find this movie painfully boring. There’s a difference between build-up and boring. The conversations are boring; the shots are boring and way too dark; and aside from pretty people, there’s not much to invest in. There’s way too much music and talking. These people never shut up, which slows down the action. Movie tip: Slasher movies should not be dialogue heavy. Lack of sound and the killer’s music help make these a stand-out genre.
I can tell the cast and crew did try to pay homage to the series though. They did not try to outdo the series or remake the original, which I appreciate. Kills are similar to others in the series, and they made Jason scarier. He’s quick, smarter, and powerful. The 2009 made Jason 2.0 in a tasteful way, not a stupid cyborg way. They have both a campsite and cabin settings, paying tribute to the early movies and updating accommodations to fit 21st-century times. Let’s face it, present-day college kids would stay at a cabin, not in tents.
The verdict: The original. As fair as I try to be and as much as I love Sam (Padalecki), I vote for the original. I appreciate the 2009 version for not butchering the Friday the 13th series, but in the end, Mrs. Voorhees wins in my book.
P.S. If you want to see a perfect tribute to the series, watch Psych’s Tuesday the 17th. It’s horror/comedy gold.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, and happy horror watching!