A director of photography named Daniel C. Pearl is credited immediately following a beheading in Friday the 13th. Either the editor of this sequence is clueless about historical events and Angelina Jolie movies, or he's making an inappropriate joke.
But to get worked up about this revamping of the Friday the 13th franchise isn't easy. It's a simple movie with a simple aim: A showcase for Jason's ability to puncture different types of holes through people's heads. The unkillable killer turns into a wuss whenever someone waves a picture of his mom in front of his face, which isn't really a wise move in the long run.
The newest Michael Bay-produced horror remake is directed by Marcus Nispel, of the vile Texas Chainsaw Massacre '03, and it's as visually slick as slasher movies get. But Nispel's penchant for shiny elegance is undone by the film's caustic loudness. It doesn't seek to compensate for the original series' low-rent charms with the chilling forest-at-night atmosphere these movies have always been missing (Part 2 came closest in this regard).
Sure, Jason knows how to work an audience with a well-timed kill, the best involving puncturing the head of a girl hiding under a dock. But the 27-year-old teenage characters are cardboard. Writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (both of Freddy vs. Jason) throw in academic dialogue references to Blue Velvet and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and subscribe to Kevin Smith's theory that the way to write a multi-layered black person is to have him spend the movie complaining that white characters are stereotyping him.
There's wit in a pre-title sequence lasting a third of the whole film's length. That prelude starts the movie with promising energy. But Jason's lack of menacing presence draws attention to the blandness of his victims. Friday the 13th is fine for a while, but its generic mechanics wear down until it's just another movie about Gap models waving flashlight beams.
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