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THIS REVIEW DEALS WITH GRAPHIC VIOLENCE AND GRAPHIC SEXUAL CONTENT. IT IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Horror, Drama, Mystery/Suspense
Cast
Jared Padalecki as Clay; Danielle Panabaker as Jenna; Amanda Righetti as Whitney; Travis Van Winkle as Trent; Derek Mears as Jason Voorhees
Director
Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)
Distributor
Warner Bros.
Reviewer
Paul Asay
Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

Jason has issues.

He'll never drop his machete long enough to sit on a therapist's couch or anything. But if he did, Jason would spend his sessions talking about how his horrible deformities shaped his childhood. About how the counselors at Camp Crystal Lake ignored and abused him. About how his own mother was decapitated right before his eyes. He'd lament the fact that he had to raise himself—eating and sleeping and setting up creepy shrines to his dead mother on Crystal Lake's deserted campground.

And he'd be told by his therapist that what he really needs is some love, some encouragement ... and a little prison time so he can cool down a bit. Perhaps a really, really good counselor could funnel Jason's inborn zeal into a more socially acceptable skill—like accounting, perhaps.

Because really, Jason's current career track is a dead end. Well, more for others than for him, I guess. If the world has learned anything from the previous 11 Friday the 13th movies, it's that Jason is more resilient than a post-nuclear cockroach. But few teens who wander into Jason's machete range survive the experience.

The 12th chapter in the Friday the 13th saga—a franchise reboot titled, somewhat unimaginatively, Friday the 13th—is more of the same: Teens wander into Camp Crystal Lake. Teens have sex, take drugs and behave badly. Jason picks teens off, one by one. Friday the 13th moviegoers don't ask whether someone will die: That's a given. Rather, it's a question of when, with what and how many liters of blood will be spilled in the process.

Positive Elements

As were its predecessors, Friday the 13th is, when you get right down to it, a really, really, really twisted morality tale. Here's the moral: Behave, or Jason will kill you.

Bad characters—teens who drink, take drugs or engage in untoward sexual activity—die. Those who don't—well, some of them die, too. But they live a wee bit longer. And a few might even make it to the closing credits.

Whitney is probably the film's most obvious "nice" character—a pretty teen who, when not camping at Crystal Lake, cares for her dying mother. When she goes missing, her brother Clay starts scouring the area looking for her—also a nice thing to do. And then there's Jenna, who feels bad for Clay and tries to help him.

OK, so none of these high schoolers would qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize ... but we'll take what we can get here.

Spiritual Content

Jason keeps his mother's mummified skull in a little shrine-like alcove and surrounds the whole thing with candles.

Sexual Content

"If there were not blood at all in the movie (there is tons) it would get a hard-R rating just for nudity and sexual situations alone," Brad Fuller, a Friday the 13th producer, wrote on his Platinum Dunes blog.

Topping the list is a tryst between Trent, the film's designated rich jerk, and Bree, one of the designated sexpots. Trent's girlfriend, Jenna, is off with Clay looking for his sister, so he takes advantage of the situation—and Bree—in a locked bedroom, where they engage in graphic sex. (There's a lot of movement and moaning; audiences see Bree's breasts and backside.) Trent crudely compliments critical parts of Bree's body all the while.

Two other teens reveal their breasts before falling victim to Jason: One strips off her bra to entice her boyfriend into a round of sex inside a tent. (Again, a lot of graphic movement makes it onto the screen.) Another goes waterskiing topless.

Among other tawdry things, a guy asks a mannequin whether she (the mannequin) remembers when she took his virginity. Another fellow buys condoms and references masturbation. A guy prepares to masturbate while looking at a clothes catalog. The camera scans a pornographic magazine as someone appears to lick sections of a foldout. Several folks make crude and obscene comments to each other, including the sexualized suggestion of someone being willing to drink someone else's urine. Obscene gestures are made. Women dance provocatively. Men ogle.

Violent Content

Audiences witness the movie's first beheading before they've finished turning off their cell phones. The victim: Jason's mom, who carved a bloody path through Crystal Lake counselors in the original film. We see the head's bloody stump and hear the woman's disembodied voice tell Jason, "Kill for mother."

He does just that.

In 90 minutes, the hockey-masked killer guts 13 victims in (according to Fuller) "new and original ways that will satisfy even the most hard-core gore hound."

Victim 1) Attacked while relieving himself. We later see his bloody body propped against a tree—and his ear hanging in a nearby marijuana plant.

Victim 2) Burned alive while hanging upside down in a sleeping bag. Eventually the body falls out of the bag, scorched and still smoldering.

Victim 3) Caught in a bear trap. He nearly escapes, but Jason plants the machete in the middle of his head.

Victim 4) Stabbed with the machete several times through the floorboards of a dilapidated cabin—eventually pulled by Jason into a gaping hole, still screaming, never to return.

Victim 5) Decapitated so that blood squirts out of neck. Jason later carries the headless body around the woods like a sack of sugar.

Victim 6) Shot through the head with an arrow.

Victim 7) Hit on head with speeding boat, then cut through the top of the head with the machete.

Victim 8) Skewered through neck and chin with a really sharp pointed instrument. Blood gushes.

Victim 9) Thwacked in the back with a double-sided ax. He's still alive, so Jason finishes the job by pushing the ax all the way through his chest.

Victim 10) Impaled by a set of antelope antlers. Shot several times by clueless boyfriend.

Victim 11) Stabbed through the eye with what looks to be a fireplace poker.

Victim 12) Pinned through the chest to the back of a pickup with a machete.

Victim 13) Stabbed through the back and chest with a machete. (How many of those things does Jason own, anyway?)

And we haven't even talked about the concluding scene yet, in which characters—who may or may not make it through the climax—are punched, kicked, stabbed, hung, thrown through bus windows, tossed into lakes and partially fed through wood chippers.

Crude or Profane Language

A teen wears a T-shirt that reads (partly censored), "F--- Christmas." And audiences hear the f-word (completely uncensored) more than 70 times. The s-word is said about 40 times. There are at least 10 misuses of God's name (one linked with "d--n") and five abuses of Jesus' name.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Jason's first batch of victims are on the hunt for a marijuana patch—which they find and subsequently die beside. Characters smoke from a huge, purple bong (nicknamed Lucille); puff on what could be cigarettes or joints; drink vast quantities of beer and liquor (including some from a used sneaker); play a few drinking games; and talk quite a bit about how drunk/high they are. There are consequences, of course: Jason hates nothing more than wasted teenagers.

Other Negative Elements

Teens urinate onscreen, make really crude references to critical anatomical parts and functions, and pick on brothers who are searching for their sisters.

Conclusion

Every now and then, someone will ask me—with a slightly worried, somewhat pitying look—"How do you sit through movies like, say, Friday the 13th?"

Here's one of my secrets: Rather than focusing on the brutality and the carnage and the really horrendous images onscreen, I begin to imagine the director had a deeper point to make behind it all—as if the shrieking, bleeding people onscreen are merely symbols for something entirely different. For instance, I imagine that Jason is a symbol of the economic recession, and the teens represent the struggling auto industry. Or perhaps Jason is Rosie O'Donnell and the teens are manifestations of her short-lived variety show. Or even that Jason is my brilliant, kindhearted but sharp-penned editor, and the teens are synonymous with the stories I submit to him.

Because, really, without resorting to such games, I have a hard time making it through 90 minutes of this sort of sordid mayhem. I know some people find this form of entertainment fun—I heard the audience chuckle several times during the screening—but I just don't quite get it. This is a film that fetishizes brutality and aggrandizes murder. It treats victims like so much squealing cordwood, their deaths as carnival novelties. It's not fun.

But maybe everybody does what I do to survive this stuff. Do hard-core gore hounds, as Brad Fuller so eloquently put it, really hate these images as much as I do, but they're hooked on comparing Jason to a swarm of biblical locusts and his victims to the ancient Egyptians' crops? Are they consciously distancing themselves from brutality by deliberately desensitizing themselves to it? I wish no one would go to these films. But they do. So I hope—no, I pray—that, if fans really got what was happening onscreen, they'd not find it fun at all.

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