(On Cable TV, March 2017) I went in the Friday the 13th remake with low expectations, conditioned by half a dozen horror remakes on what to anticipate. Generally speaking, the result does not disappoint—for best or for worst, this remake is roughly equivalent to the many other horror remakes of the time: slick production values, buffed-up young leads, adherence to the iconography of its predecessors but not much in terms of wit, soul, humour or anything but mechanical suspense. It’s a rote exercise, singularly uninteresting if you’re not already a convinced horror hound. The death grip that genre conventions hold around the film’s throat makes it impossible to become anything but a pale imitation of a celebrated predecessor. The only area where this Friday the 13th holds surprise is, curiously enough, in its depiction of nudity—while the ’80s horror originals usually came with a generous side order of nudity, most 00s remakes usually didn’t. But this one is the exception, maybe too blatantly so—by the time the characters themselves comment each other on their splendid bodies, it doesn’t matter if we agree with them. Alas, there’s a lot more violence than flesh here, and it quickly blurs into the usual exasperating fights with predetermined outcomes. Saddled with an overlong prologue, mechanistic structure and stomach-churning glorification of its villain, Friday the 13th isn’t worth much more than checking off a box on some completist cinephile list. It’s dull and there are many other better horror movies out there. But then again, I already suspected that going in—I got what I was expecting.
(In French, On Cable TV, July 2016) Watching this movie without much knowledge or affection for either the Friday the 13th or the Nightmare on Elm Street series had me feeling as if I was attending a very strange party to which I hadn’t been invited. The concept of horror villain fandom baffles me—I had the impression that Freddy vs Jason was trying to get me to cheer for one mass murderers of children or another, which just seems wrong. It doesn’t help that Freddy vs Jason is, in most aspects, a thoroughly forgettable slasher: Here are a bunch of teenagers, there are the monsters, watch as they get picked off one by one until the final girl. Yawn. The film’s sole distinction is the amount of worship that Freddy vs Jason has for either Freddy Krueger (cackling one-liners) or Jason Voorhees (silent brute), which doesn’t translate into anything meaningful. Again: I’d like a horror movie that doesn’t make me feel like a psychopath, please. Some aspects of the film warrant mention due to imperfection: the CGI effects, in particular, look fake and dated. Some of Ronny Yu’s direction has some high-energy moments (with Robert Englund clearly having fun in a familiar role), even though the Crystal Lake third act feels far too long for its own good. I almost certainly could have gotten more out of Freddy vs Jason had I watched the interminable series that inspired it. But frankly, I have better things to do.