Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Friday the 13th sneak preview

Every time I hear about another movie remake, re-imagining, or retooling of a classic film, especially one in the horror genre, my first reaction is always to cover my ears and repeatedly say "la-la-la-la" in an attempt to block out the news and pretend that Hollywood has not once again resorted to cannibalizing another cinematic success story in an attempt to cash in.

So it was with great skepticism and furious cynicism that I attended an advance screening of the new "Friday the 13th." My first prayer was answered once the opening scene was over and I realized that this wouldn't be a shot for shot remake similar to other newly remade horror films like 1998's "Psycho."

And I have to say, I was pleased by a couple of other choices made by the producers and director Marcus Nispel as well. First off, they kept the film moving along well, paced just right at under an hour and thirty minutes. In addition to the tight direction, the art direction, sets, and quality of acting was above standards for the genre.

Most importantly, producers Brad Fuller and Andrew Form of Platinum Dunes, the same company that successfully re-imagined "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Amityville Horror," and "The Hitcher," decided not to take the Hollywood low road of dummying down their film to a PG-13 rating to pimp more ticket sales, but instead went full bore with an R-rated gore fest filled with gruesome kill scenes and gratuitous sex.

That was the other pleasant surprise: a return to the days when an attractive cast is set against a bloody, sexy backdrop, reminiscent of the good old days of the 80's when I cut my cinematic teeth simultaneously on teen sex comedies and slasher pics. The new "Friday the 13th" was a pleasant combination of the two time honored traditions and should satisfy Gen Xers who grew up with a steady diet of this type of fare at the cineplex and in subsequent releases during the early days of HBO and Cinemax.

With a cast picked more for their attractiveness and willingness to appear topless, there are still a few familiar faces -- Jared Padalecki from TV's "Supernatural," Amanda Righetti from "The Mentalist," Willa Ford from "Dancing with the Stars," and Aaron Yoo from "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist," "21," and "Disturbia" are a few you may remember. But "Friday the 13th" is more about who will be killed and how than it is about individual performances, so better known actors would have detracted from the fun. The casting seemed spot on to achieve the desired effect.

Is this art? Probably not? Will it be successful? Surely. Was I entertained? Yes!

I give "Friday the 13th" three Jason masks plus one machete out of four. It ain't "The Reader," or "Slumdog Millionaire," but it hits all the right notes for the avid slasher movie fan. See it this Friday, Feb. 13.

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