The big surprise about the new Friday The 13th is that it arrives so late in the remake-anything-scary-from-the-'70s-or-'80s cycle. As demonstrated by the enjoyable 3-D My Bloody Valentine and the Rob Zombie botch-job of Halloween, it’s easier to make a satisfying new version of something fondly-remembered-but- mediocre than to remount something truly classic. The 1980 Friday was a franchise-founding hit, but – despite sticking an arrow into young Kevin Bacon’s gullet – makeshift hackwork. Doing it over again *even competently *should prevent critics from bleating the remake isn’t as good as the original.
Teenagers in the woods having sex, taking drugs and mouthing off, plus a hulking, remorseless killer doing them in. How can anyone screw up such a simple, workable formula? This ditches the mild mystery of the original by running through the business about Jason’s mad mother in a brief prologue then shuffles through plot elements from the first three sequels -- without addressing the bizarre logic whereby Mrs. Voorhees (Nana Visitor) kills to avenge her son’s death, only for Jason to turn out to be alive and killing to avenge her decapitation. The seminal moment where Jason exchanges his flour-sack hood for a battered hockey mask is given the sort of weight as the introduction of the Batsuit in Batman Begins, but Jason is frankly a dull thug of a character - a knock-off goon beside Michael Myers, the Texas cannibal clan or Freddy Krueger – and the film trudges without suspense, atmosphere, terror or wit from one unimaginative kill to the next.
This bunch of pretty vacant kids (they’re into topless waterskiing and reprising that ‘Beer Hunter’ gag from Dead Man’s Curve) are as useless as the spam-in-a-can victims from any of the earlier ten or eleven Fridays (depending on whether you count Freddy Vs. Jason). The level of contempt for the characters involved is revealed by a jaw-droppingly racist gag as the token black dude gets axed to death in a woodpile! Marcus Nispel, who did a decent job on the needless but solid Chainsaw redux, brings nothing new to this oft-told tale, and even manages to muff a few things that worked in the earlier movies.