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The New Friday the 13th-who cares if it's good if it makes money

Updated on July 1, 2010

Friday the 13th – The Remake

Saying that the new Friday the 13th is a poorly done movie is a euphemism. It is a turd. Worse than that, it is not an acceptable turd. The remaking of the original Friday the 13th was entirely a business decision. The studio at the helm knew that there is a built in audience, and that a remake of the 1980 low budget classic would stir up a lot of attention, regardless of the quality. They knew that it would clear forty million in the box office on opening weekend, so if they spent sixteen million they’re doubling their money – regardless of quality. It is like cheating at the roulette wheel, when you always know the little metal ball is going to land on red. The money is there, but the fun is gone.

As it cost the same to hire a qualified screen writer, director, cinematographer, production designer, actors, etc. as it does to hire your friend’s nephew, there’s no excuse. It costs the same to make a good movie as it does a bad movie. The difference is how much care the individual invests, and how much respect the filmmakers have for the audience. This is clearly a scenario where the respect was lacking some executive was throwing their friend’s nephew a bone.

If you are going to remake something, say a house, you don’t arbitrarily pick something as the basis of the new model. For example, “that house has an antenna, therefore - if whatever we build has an antenna, it is a remake of that house.” There are things that are more important, such as the foundation. The aesthetics. The fact that there are doors and windows and rooms. The creators of the remake of Friday the 13th went out into a field and stuck an antenna in cow manure and that’s why it is a turd.

Assuming the remake is worth any sort of analysis or deconstruction: The differences between the original and the remake, other than the obvious ones, i.e., Mrs. Vorhees, the budgets, are obvious and numerous.

It would be easier to compare them based on what was similar. There were woods, and people got killed.

Regrettably, to underline some of the most glaring ways the filmmakers went awry, it is better to look at the differences.

The original Friday the 13th created a group of characters that the audience was invested in emotionally. There was the awkwardness of teenagers transitioning into adulthood… the awkwardness of these teenagers going away for the summer, forging new relationships. There was the bonding and the sexual tension. We, as the audience, had become sympathetic toward all of the characters. We were invested in what they were going through and what they would get out of the experience.

Meanwhile, the whole time there is this residue of evil looming over the camp. This consistent presence of something bad is there to work against our desire to become attached to the characters. Against our better judgment, we become attached and we know once the bad comes, something is going to be ripped away from us. There is tension and something to lose.

In the “reinvention,” the first mistake they made (other than a lot a bad and selfish decisions throughout the development…) was having the three prolonged false beginnings. This is indicative of someone trying to burn minutes as they don’t have enough substance to carry them through the length of a feature length film. We never get rooted as they keep starting over. It works against them in other ways as well, as there was no time (not that the skill was even there if there was time) to develop the characters.

Suspension of disbelief, a phrase coined by J.R.R. Tolkein, is what carries us through a movie. This is our willingness to suspend our disbelief. What is the “simplest” way to make an audience subject themselves to suspending their disbelief? There are many ways, but the “simplest” is to allow us to invest in the characters. If we identify with the characters, we will be willing to go on any journey they go on. We will be willing to overlook many other flaws.

Stephen King did not make his career through writing quality literature. He has a career because he has the gift of creating real characters that we can identify with, and will then follow through any horrible thing that he does to them.

The Friday the 13th remake was a movie about a group of shallow, arrogant, immature jerks (for whom we would rewrite laws to make murder okay) who stay at dad’s posh cabin in the woods. Then Jason does us a favor by killing them, but unfortunately not fast enough. There were two characters that we were supposed to like, however, they are the characters that the writers seemed unable to identify with and therefore lacked any real human qualities. (It seemed like the actors and director also had trouble identifying with the only human characters as well.)

There is no tension, and therefore no adrenaline, in watching a cartoon version of a psychopath killing bad actors that we have nothing invested in. The structure offered nothing more complex than killing off one character at a time. We were always ahead of the predictable plot, but… there were boobs. There were lots of boobs, and it still wasn’t worth watching.

That will be for a later essay: The correct use of boobs in a horror movie. The remake of Friday the 13th and Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake will be the basis on how they are used incorrectly.

 

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