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[Friday the 13th 2009]
Plot:Searching for his missing sister, Clay (Jared Padalecki) heads up to the eerie woods of legendary Crystal Lake, where he stumbles on the creaky remains of rotting old cabins behind moss-covered trees. And that's not the only thing lying in wait under the brush.

Against the advice of police and cautions from the locals, Clay pursues what few leads he has, with the help of a young woman he meets among a group of college kids up for an all-thrills weekend. But they are about to find much more than they bargained for. Little do they know, they've entered the domain of one of the most terrifying specters in American film history-the infamous killer who haunts Crystal Lake, armed with a razor-sharp machete...Jason Voorhees.

Cast:Jared Padalecki, Derek Mears, Amanda Righetti, Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo, Travis Van Winkle, Willa Ford, Nick Mennell, Jonathan Sadowski, Nana Visitor, Arlen Escarpeta, Ryan Hansen, Julianna Guill, Richard Burgi.

My Thoughts:One hell of a good time!

Review:I wasn't really sure how to approach this particular Jason movie. It wasn't a continuation from "X", which was the last solo Jason effort to be released. But considering how cheesy "X" was, that's probably a good thing. Instead, this new effort is from the Platinum Dunes guys, the dudes behind the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake. However this particular film isn't necessarily a remake, but more of a companion piece to the original film. Mostly because it picks up after Mrs. Voorhees gets decapitated by the sole survivor of the first string of Crystal Lake killings, in a scene which is darkened up a bit tone wise from how it played out in the 1980 original.

So think of it as a sidestory, which could've occured in between parts 1 and 2, post Adrienne King, but pre Amy Steele. The movie starts off with a huge bang, introducing a group of campers, which includes Whitney (Amanda Righetti), and a few others. They head into the woods for the usual activities of screwing and smoking dope. Well some of the campers have sex on their minds, while some of the others are on the lookout for a pot crop which they see as a cash cow. Fuller and Form add in the obligatory tit shots and perverse humor within the movies first 20 minutes, as it centers around the first group of campers, and of course in these films the campers have to be horny teens.

But Righetti's character is portrayed as the smarter more observant one, which sets up a possible scenario where she may not get picked off as easily as the others. It isn't long before we get our first glimpse of Jason, when he quickly and violently makes mush out of the face of one of the kids who strays too far from camp. From there, he violently picks off the others one by one...only this new Jason (Mears) is alot more methodical and lurkish. He does have his moments where he bursts through things like doors and walls and attacks people, but he also has his moments where he uses his brain to capture his prey.

The tweaks to this new Jason is he's elevated above being just a dumb, violent, buzzsaw-like killer who puts himself in harms way while pursuing his prey because he knows he can never die. If anything, Jason dishes out a hell of alot more punishment in this film than he receives. But the kills are alot more impactful, and the set up which leads to them is better conceived and pieced together than in previous films. After the first group of campers are disposed of, another group shows up later on. This is where Danielle Panabaker, Arlen Escarpeta, Ryan Hansen, Willa Ford, and Aaron Yoo's characters come in.

Padalecki's character Clay also shows up after the first Jason murders, searching for his sister Whitney who he still believes is alive. He gets no help from the locals however who either don't like city folk, or are aware of Jason's presence at Crystal Lake, and don't want any outsiders rattling his hornets nest so to speak. But his encounter with the new campers manages to gain him some assistance from Panabaker's character who from the moment her and Clay meet, she seems to sort of dig him, yet at the same time feels empathetic towards his plight. The characters in this new "Friday the 13th" film have alot more depth than the usual one-dimensional teens, which was one of the many elements of the movie I appreciated.

We do indeed have the slutty girls, and prick guys, such as Travis Van Winkle's character...who plays the rich boy with the fancy cabin at Camp Crystal Lake. But we also get alot of conflict between the two male leads of the film, Padalecki and Van Winkle, as well as more depth than usual from the films female leads...Panabaker and Righetti. So while the one-dimensional element is there with some of the characters, it's not there with others. Escarpeta and Yoo's characters are also elevated beyond the cliche token minorities in a standard slasher movie, and the two even get some pretty cool battle scenes in their respective clashes with Jason.

Of course now that the new kids are at CCL...Jason is none too pleased about it, and doesn't waste any time letting them know either. The kills in this movie I must say were exceptional, sporting lots of blood and an assortment of weaponry including a bow and arrow among other things. The audience I saw it with at the screening were pretty much cheering at every single one....and were into the movie in general from start to finish. Of course it may have helped that our theater had an awesome sound system and every jump moment was hyper-amplified. So it really helped the viewer get into the film.

I wouldn't say this particular "Friday the 13th" film has as high of a body count as the earlier sequels did, but it comes pretty close, probably missing the mark by one or two victims. Derek Mears also does a great job as the new Jason Voorhees, and gives this film alot of "moments"...such as when Jason finally passes off the bandage-wrapped face he sports for the first half hour of the film, and dawns the hockey mask for the first time. Mears also gets the movements of Jason correct when he's pursuing a victim or comes bursting through a wall. And since Mears is a pretty huge guy, Jason still manages to keep the intimidating screen presence he's been known for throughout the series.

The films final act holds alot of twists and turns and surprises, including the re-emergence of one thought to be dead character. As well as a ton of action and suspense, as Jason begins to close in on what's left of the campers, and they engage in a life or death struggle with him. Making this movie probably one of the only Jason films where the characters physically challenge him just as much as they flee in terror away from him.

If there was one weak spot to this movie, it's the final five minutes...which has the last left standing battling Jason, but the overall end result being pretty anti-climatic. But the film more than makes up for that little lull with a shock-filled final scene which although in a way you might see coming, still manages to get you on some level. "Friday the 13th" is a great slasher movie, and above that...a fantastic return to the silver screen for Horror Icon Jason Voorhees.

It's not only fast-paced, well scored musically, well-casted, bloody and gory, and entertaining...but it's a fun movie which is not something I say often these days about horror films. It's truly an audience participation film on the level of "Snakes On A Plane" and other similar films which really grab the audience and make them a part of the action. It should thrill most just as much as it chills them.

Positives:Well-casted, well-acted, well-scored, great kills, great chase scenes, lots of action, suspense, and thrills.

Negatives:The films final battle, between Jason and those still left standing, kind of ends abruptly and a bit too quietly. I felt the audience was waiting for the conclusion of that battle to really hit them, but instead it kind of just grazed them.

Overall:Three and a half out of four stars.





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