Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday the 13th Review- Jason Voorhees: The Next Top Chef?

I finally caught the new Friday the 13th movie. You know what? It’s not bad. Just when you thought the franchise was finally dead, it gets back up, much like Jason does at the ends of his films.

It’s funny, I sort of felt like one of the judges from the show Top Chef while watching this movie. You see, I’ve been watching horror movies for a long time, so much like Tom Colecio knows his way around a kitchen, I know my way around a Jason movie.

Let’s say a contestant on Top Chef makes gumbo. The judges will look for the classic ingredients as well as something that puts a new spin on the dish. They’ll look for the "holy trinity" of celery, bell peppers and onion. They’ll scrutinize the color or the roux. They’ll expect to taste andouille sausage along with poultry and shellfish. But they will also expect the chef to do something that makes the dish their own. Don’t just make the same old thing.

There’s a recipe to follow with a Friday the 13th movie too; a deserted lake, the "holy trinity" of a bunch of partying teens, beer/weed and sex. There are also a few archetypes that we look for. The obnoxious guy, the noble guy, the sympathetic girl, the wacky guy, the drug or alcohol obsessed guy and the slut. Most of all, we look for a series of creative and brutal kills.

The new Friday the 13th includes all of the classic ingredients… in other words, we get plenty of boobs and blood. And the makers of this movie tried to put their own spin on this dish. They were not always successful, but overall it was good enough. I had a good time at the theatre, and that’s what counts in the long run.

As I watched the movie, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the guys who wrote the movie. How would I approach the challenge of making a movie for a tired franchise; a movie that had all the classic elements, but bring something new to the table as well? So as the movie unfolded in front of me I kept thinking, “Yep, I guess I’d do something like that too.” They stick to the standard formula while adding a few twists here and there to add a new spin to some of the tired trappings of the franchise. They also made enough references to the first three movies to satisfy the long time fans.

It’s not a great horror movie. It’s a bit pedestrian and generic, but I’m so desensitized to these movies that I may not be a good litmus test for the average person. It’s kind of like when I say something is not that spicy. Someone else usually ends up scrambling for a glass of water. I love hot food and I love scary, gory movies. I felt this movie kind of lacked suspense and weight. You know, like that feeling of dread you felt when Jodie Foster headed down into Buffalo Bill’s basement in The Silence of the Lambs. But as far as a standard slasher flick goes, it delivers… a bunch of teens go to a lake, party and get killed one by one. Sprinkle in a few laughs here and there and there you have it. If this movie was a contestant on Top Chef, it would not win the Elimination Challenge, but it would not be packing its machete and going home either.

Tonight the Academy Awards are on, and if you start comparing this movie to one the nominated films, obviously you are way off base. You have to compare it to other horror films, particularly other slasher films and other Friday the 13th movies. For a seasoned veteran of the Friday the 13th series, it’s not the best of the bunch, but it is one of the better installments. As far as being a suitable reboot of the franchise, I think it did its job. In fact, the first fifteen minutes of the film are some of the best in the entire series. If it were a meal, I would have eaten everything on my plate but I would not order seconds. But with a little more hot sauce and seasoning, this could have been a great movie.

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