Jason's back, stalking the new kids on the lake

Willa Ford as Chelsea discovers Jason (Derek Mears) watching her on the lakeshore in "Friday the 13th," the 11th gory sequel.
Willa Ford as Chelsea discovers Jason (Derek Mears) watching her on the lakeshore in "Friday the 13th," the 11th gory sequel.
Posted: February 13, 2009

There are important lessons to learn from the latest iteration of Friday the 13th, which continues Jason Voorhees' diabolical - or is it divine? - quest to stamp out premarital sex:

College kids in 2009 are as starved for sex, booze and pot as they were in 1980 when Sean S. Cunningham's original film was released.

But today's kids are infinitely more cynical, crude, rude and entitled than their scruffy, naive predecessors.

The new kids on the lake also dress better, drive nicer cars and have ridiculously well-toned, doll-like bodies they love to show off.

This makes it so much more satisfying to watch them die.

Director Marcus Nispel, who created an unexpectedly inventive and respectful homage to Tobe Hooper with his Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, does a fine job. The film, which is not a remake but the 11th sequel, is a lean, mean, highly efficient and rapidly moving scare-fest that packs plenty of gory whoop.

As Jason sequels go, this is one of the best, though that's not saying much, considering the last batch, which included Jason Takes Manhattan, Jason Goes to Hell (why didn't he stay?), Jason X (wherein our intrepid bad guy goes into space!) and the ludicrously lame bad-guy showdown Freddy vs. Jason.

But Nispel is no Rob Zombie - who achieved something akin to brilliance with his 2007 Halloween remake. What's more, as influential as it's been, Friday the 13th was never that great.

Nispel's ride on the Jason merry-go-round, which so far has made $374 million worldwide, begins with a clever double prologue, the first of which restages the ending of the 1980 flick.

Then we're treated to a 20-minute, mini-sequel. An older, wiser Jason dispatches four out of five campers who are searching for a crop of marijuana growing wild near Camp Crystal Lake.

Whitney (Amanda Righetti), one of just two girls in the film who keep their tops on, survives - but is taken back to Jason's lair. (The lair adds a touch of Chainsaw Massacre.)

After this round of bloody killings, Nispel finally flashes the title card. (The theater, which is full of fans, explodes with applause.)

The story proper begins when Whitney's brother, Clay Miller (adequately played by Supernatural star Jared Padalecki), enlists the help of a group of vacationing kids to look for his sister.

You know the rest: More girls die promptly after taking off their tops, and more boys die promptly after being mean to Clay.


Contact staff writer Tirdad Derakhshani at 215-854-2736 or tirdad@phillynews.com.

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