Friday the 13th

Feb 18, 2009 at 12:00 am

How many times do we have to tell you stoners to stay out of the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake at night? This latest "re-imagining" of the everlasting slasher franchise is helmed by German sleaze enthusiast Marcus Nispel, who specializes in slick, overproduced horror, such as the recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot, and Billy Joel videos.

The nearly indestructible and hockey mask-wearing killer, Jason Voorhees, is back to his tricks, plodding about the woods, sharpening knives, ready to make teen tartar of any nit unfortunate enough to stumble into his path. The updated freak's a bit smarter than before, setting traps and devising schemes in his underground lair, though the kids are the same sort of stupid bimbos and himbos he has diced up since the '80s.

Nispel treats the previous 12 or so Friday the 13th entries as urban legends, setting up the backstory about the camper who drowned in the lake but was mystically resurrected after his mother goes on a vengeful rampage against the teenage camp counselors and is slain herself.

The genre's real dirty secret is the ubiquitous cast of Pretty Young Things so thoroughly worthless and annoying that we begin rooting for Jason. In fact, this new, somewhat quicker killer manages to dispatch a crew of dummies even before the opening titles roll!

Soon enough, a new crop of sexed-up drunken dipshits rides in, ready for a debauched weekend at a posh lakefront cabin. They're led by alpha-male Trent (Travis Van Winkle), a sneering blond who could be Fred from Scooby-Doo. The rest of the gang consists of nubile chicks itching to lose their tops and a trio of cartoonish stoners, including the standard-issue, comedy-relief Asian nerd. What passes for heroics are provided by the earnest hunk Clay (Jared Padalecki), a graduate of the Josh Duhamel School of handsome blandness. His sister went missing with the previous set of victims, and he's determined to find her, no matter how indifferent the local sheriff or how idiotic his pals.

Nispel dishes all the depravity and gore you'd expect from the series; including death by arrow, bear trap, a hot poker through the eye and — the showstopper — a topless chick hiding beneath a boat dock getting stabbed through the skull with a machete. While it's arguably well-made, with higher production values, pacing and acting than the old '80s cheesefests, the genre is still total rubbish, but stupidly alluring.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].