Friday the 13th (New Line Paramount 2009)
With the 2003 reboot of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre having been a great success, it made sense to repeat the formula for the Friday the 13th franchise, and New Line’s Toby Emmerich approached producers Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form to broach the idea.
With Paramount, New Line and Crystal Lake Entertainment subsequently giving their approval, the team got to work. The initial concept of an origin story for Jason evolved into a reboot of the first part of the original series on the grounds that telling too much of the character’s history would make him too sympathetic. The horror, not the tragic back story, was the heart of the action.
Bree (Julianna Guill), Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) and Clay (Jared Padalecki) fear the worst in Friday the 13th (New Line Paramount 2009)
Another central point for the film’s development was that the movie should be rooted in a very real present day – a point which extends to the newly designed Jason. Derek Mears’ Jason is a rangy, agile hunter, built for speed and aggression rather than blunt force, and his childlike outburst when he realises Clay (Jared Padalecki) and Jenna (Danielle Panabaker) are in the camp feels totally in keeping with the isolated life he has led.
The movie’s styling remains true to this principle of realism. Dirty and utilitarian, Camp Crystal Lake has never looked so unwelcoming, while the producers’ idea to add a network of mining tunnels underneath the camp clicks satisfyingly into place both as a fresh environment for the action, and as a practical explanation for Jason’s ability to traverse the area quickly.
Although a reboot, this is no slavish imitation, with scriptwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift subverting familiar ideas in several places. Amanda (America Olivo) and Richie’s (Ben Feldman) sex scene is awkwardly interrupted by their stopping mid-act at every sound outside, and when using Pamela’s locket to confuse Jason in the barn, Whitney (Amanda Righetti) wisely waits until he is chained into a woodchipper before coming over all maternal.
With its box office performance second only to that of Freddy vs Jason (2003), the rebooted Friday the 13th confidently brought the franchise up to date for a more shock-savvy audience.