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Friday the 13th (2009) DVD Review (Killer Cut)

Friday the 13th (2009) movie poster Friday the 13th

Theatrical Release: February 13, 2009 / Running Time: 105 Minutes (Extended Cut) / Rating: R

Director: Marcus Nispel / Writers: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift (story & screenplay), Mark Wheaton (story)

Cast: Jared Padalecki (Clay Miller), Danielle Panabaker (Jenna), Amanda Righetti (Whitney Miller), Travis Van Winkle (Trent), Aaron Yoo (Chewie), Derek Mears (Jason Voorhees), Jonathan Sadowski (Wade), Julianna Guill (Bree), Ben Feldman (Richie), Arlen Escarpeta (Lawrence), Ryan Hansen (Nolan), Willa Ford (Chelsea), Nick Mennell (Mike), America Olivo (Amanda), Kyle Davis (Donnie), Richard Burgi (Officer Bracke)

Buy Friday the 13th (2009) from Amazon.com: Killer Cut DVD Theatrical Cut DVD Blu-ray


Friday the 13th: The Day. Occurring once or twice in most years, a Friday falling on the 13th day of a month has long been regarded as bad luck. The superstition has been traced back separately to the 19th century, ancient Norse mythology, and the Knights Templar of the late Middle Ages.

Friday the 13th: The Movies. Credited alongside Halloween (1978) with popularizing the slasher subgenre of horror films, the original Friday the 13th was released in 1980
and followed by five sequels over the next six years. Three more sequels came and then 1993's Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday seemed to put the franchise to rest, but only until New Line Cinema took over with 2002's Jason X. That soon led to Freddy vs. Jason, a crossover with the universe of fellow New Line horror franchise Nightmare on Elm Street. The series' title phrase, invoked in each installment's plot, no doubt raised familiarity with the date's connotations.

In 2009, the Gregorian calendar and the horror movie series aligned for a fifth time with the release of Friday the 13th. As the lack of a numeral and subtitle suggest, this was a reboot. Per the movie industry's increasingly common practice, the exhausted franchise's continuity is partially laid to rest and started anew in the hopes of appealing to both a new, unseasoned generation and an older one still fond of the brand.

We rarely get this clear a look at Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing villain who has long been at the center of the Friday the 13th horror films. Since police have abandoned search efforts, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) looks for his missing sister on his own, with the help of fellow young attractive person Jenna (Danielle Panabaker).

The February alignment generated one of the most remarkable weekends in box office history. As counterprogramming to date night fare brought on by a rare Valentine's weekend, the film earned back its $19 million budget on its namesake day, racking up one of the biggest R-rated openings of all-time. Counting Sunday's anticipated big drop-off, 2009's Friday made over $40 million, a weekend number typically only attained by blockbuster movies with summer or holiday debuts.

Proving that much of its draw was in its initial timing, Friday didn't continue to enjoy big crowds. Its 80.4% second weekend drop was one of the most severe ever (putting the film among the ranks of such lambasted works as Gigli, From Justin to Kelly, and Shaquille O'Neal's Steel). Subsequent declines were only slightly less steep, and a month after opening, the film had settled around its final tally of $65 M. That respectable number was more than triple the movie's production costs, but still shy of the genre's biggest hits and even less than what Freddy vs. Jason made.

After a prologue set in 1980 briefly sums up the original film's climax, we enter the present day with five obnoxious young people camping out in the dark woods, two of whom are planning to cash in on a marijuana crop. The typical slasher movie questions -- Who?, When?, How? -- instantly come to mind, and appear to be answered -- Everyone, Soon, At the Hands of the Somehow Alive and At-Large Jason Voorhees.

Those unpromising 25 minutes give way to an overdue title screen and things improve a bit as our attentions to an entirely new crop of reckless young people visiting the fabled Crystal Lake area. This group numbers seven and is headed by the preppy Trent (Travis Van Winkle), concerned that his family's lush cabin is housing reckless young people, and his clearly more thoughtful girlfriend Jenna (Danielle Panabaker). While the ethnically diverse twentysomethings sew their wild oats with reefer, beer pong, and unauthorized boating, Jenna takes sympathy on an eighth party, Clay (Jared Padalecki), a young guy searching for the sister that went missing with that first group. As they explore the area, the mayhem begins, with Jason reclaiming his signature hockey mask and silently deciding (on whim?) to kill anyone in sight.

Youthful-looking Asian American actor Aaron Yoo gets another small supporting comic relief role. And if that's Jason behind him, his seconds are numbered. A new generation of kids (Julianna Guill, Travis Van Winkle) is about to learn the well-known slasher horror lesson that sex in a forest cabin can only bring about lethal trouble.

What are people supposed to see in a horror movie like this? Is it scary?
Not unless this is your first slasher movie (as it may be for some), because the formula is just about always the same. Is it creative? Not really, unless you're able to sadistically appreciate the offing of characters, as fans of this genre apparently are supposed to. Is it well-acted, well-directed, or meaningful in any way? No, no, no.

I guess there's some primitive thrill to seeing attractive people your age (or playing your age) acting wild and hoping to be among the few that survive the loose psychopath. But the way this graphic subgenre continues to thrive alongside more psychological and suspenseful horror suggests there's more to it than that. Is it people who get off on gore? People liking to guess the order in which characters are killed? Large groups who feel an obligation to be part of a longstanding teen moviegoing tradition? Whatever it is, these kinds of films make money and often are well-received by the niche audience that provides the money.

Like most of its kind, most of the film is designed to get us wrapped up in moments and then be startled by unforeseen occurrences that disrupt the calm. Heads are stabbed, throats are slit, and there's still room for six breasts to be exposed. Can you really expect to find anything greater than sex, drugs, and whatever has supplanted rock and roll as cool?

Recognizing the commercial value of the genre and brand, New Line and parent company Warner treat Friday to two separate DVD versions upon its video debut this week. The theatrical cut arrives with no bonus features. An extended version, dubbed the Killer Cut and reviewed here, comes with a couple of extras. While most studios would eagerly slap an "Unrated" on said extended version, a surefire way to boost consumer interest, these ones have actually submitted the longer Friday to the MPAA and come back with another "R" rating which only adds "nudity" to the official certification description.

According to case data, the Killer Cut runs nine minutes longer. I haven't seen the theatrical cut, nor from this am I in any rush to, but nothing truly stood out as being padded or prolonged. I guess the description suggests there could be some additional shots of bared flesh on display.

Buy Friday the 13th: Killer Cut DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: June 16, 2009
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.96 (Reduced from $28.98)
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available in Theatrical Cut DVD
and on Blu-ray Disc

VIDEO and AUDIO

To heighten the suspense of uncertainty, a majority of any given frame is black. Aside from the widespread darkness (which minimizes the clarity of dialogue-less stretches), picture in the 2.35:1 widescreen transfer is fine. There are huge peaks and valleys to the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, with relative silence giving way to jolts intended to stir the viewer from seat in ways that the routine proceedings otherwise wouldn't. More tasteful atmosphere and directionality can also be noticed in parts.

Derek Mears gets made up as Jason Voorhees, raising the question, "If we don't see it, why bother?" As one of two cops lives up to his profession's cinematic legacy of unhelpfulness, a wall calendar confirms it's really Friday the 13th in this deleted scene. The Killer Cut DVD's static menus opt for understatement, beginning with the hockey mask close-up of this scored main menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Two bonus feature listings are found here, neither one offered on the theatrical cut DVD.

I don't think it's a stretch to call "The Rebirth of Jason Voorhees" (11:23) more interesting than the film.
All kinds of ideas that go unmentioned and unexplored in the movie are discussed by cast and crew. The latter spend much of the time weighing in on the (largely unseen) look and MO of the "anti-hero."

Next comes three Additional Scenes (8:20): an alternate version of Jason acquiring his hockey mask, a scene of law enforcement being skeptical (which establishes the eponymous date), and a rainy climactic flight that ends differently.

The disc's surprisingly simple menus are all static and, save for the score-equipped main screen, silent.

Inserting the disc loads a Blu-ray promo and trailers for Freddy vs. Jason, Green Lantern: First Flight, The Cell 2, Trick 'r Treat, and Observe and Report.

The only insert within the environmentally-friendly keepcase is a unique code which will let you download a Windows Media digital copy of the film for $1.99. It's not clear what cut you get there.

Jason and his machete strike a menacing, shadowy presence on the roof of the film's central cabin. Twenty-nine years since being introduced, New Jersey's Camp Crystal Lake remains a site of trouble.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Young people goofing around, doing drugs, having sex, and getting killed off one at a time... 2009's Friday the 13th may be intended to relaunch a franchise, but it offers nothing new or interesting. At least it doesn't seem to overextend, which makes sense since nearly one-third of the film is backstory. If you like your horror films dark and gory, I guess you'll want to see this once. If not, you're encouraged to use your time more wisely.

I'm sure those who enjoyed the film would have liked to get both cuts and the offered bonus features in one package. Fans who have adopted Blu-ray do get that and some additional exclusives, but potential DVD customers are left choosing between the film they like and an unseen cut with a couple of bonuses.

Buy Friday the 13th (2009) from Amazon.com:
Killer Cut DVD / Theatrical Cut DVD / Blu-ray

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From Director Marcus Nispel: Pathfinder (Unrated) | From Producer Michael Bay: Transformers

Featuring the Cast of Friday the 13th:
Danielle Panabaker: Sky High Read It and Weep | Aaron Yoo: Disturbia 21 | Travis Van Winkle: That's So Raven: Raven's House Party

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Reviewed June 15, 2009.



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