Jason Voorhees is getting a makeover this Valentine’s Day, as the Friday the 13th remake hit theaters today. The biggest difference in this reimagining of the horror classic is that Michael Bay produced the film. I was invited to a screening last night, and I was curious to see how much of Bay’s influence could be seen in the final product.
The film starts out like any other Jason movie: a bunch of teens frolic at a summer camp. There’s the requisite sex, drugs, and nudity that you come to expect from this series.
Once Jason shows up things start to get weird. Two of the teens sneak off to the woods. As they’re taking off their clothes next to a tree, they see the iconic killer standing there. Except this time, he’s holding a remote control. He pushes a big red button, and a bomb inside the tree detonates, igniting a massive explosion that sends the coeds and all their body parts flying into Crystal Lake.
As the death toll climbs, we also find out that Jason has abandoned his traditional machete in favor of an Uzi.
The deaths lack the subtle tension of the kills in the original. For instance, in the second act Jason encounters two camp counselors doing it in a cabin. Normally, you’d expect that Jason would hunt them down and decapitate them, or maybe impale them on a spike after a lengthy and exciting chase scene. Not so. This time, he kills them by ordering in an airstrike of F-16’s who use their massive firepower to easily gun down the teens. After the teens have been riddled with bullets, for seemingly no reason, the planes circle the camp for another twenty minutes, launching missiles and blowing up other cabins in the area. This causes a massive forest fire, which is exacerbated when Jason launches a gasoline-soaked missile right into the proceedings. They never even explain where Jason got a missile launcher, and it never appears again.
About halfway into the movie, I conceded that it wouldn’t be your typical slasher flick: apparently, Jason had adopted some new, more explosive ways to kill horny teenagers. Okay. At the very least, I was going to see Jason use some innovative new methods.
How wrong I was.
As Jason is about to dump 20 pounds of dynamite into a frat party, a helicopter arrives carrying the President and the Secretary of Defense. They inform Jason that terrorists have kidnapped the President’s daughter, and they’d need his help to get her back. When Jason bristles at the idea of helping the U.S. government, they tell him that unfortunately, the terrorists have Jason’s daughter too. They even show him a video of his daughter bound and gagged. I thought it was a little much that Jason’s daughter was just a thirteen year old with pigtails wearing a hockey mask.
Jason joins the cause, but the President orders him to work with their top weapons expert, played by Martin Lawrence. After an hour and a half of pointless chase scenes, explosions, and grisly deaths, Jason and Martin track the terrorists down to their homebase in an Afghanistan, which for some reason also looks just like a summer camp. Also, it’s not explained why all the terrorists are American teenagers having sex with each other.
Once they get there, they discover the terrorist’s secret plot: fill a space shuttle with explosives, copulating teens, and actor Jon Voight, and launch it directly into New York City. Jason heroically climbs aboard the shuttle, and after sharing a tearful goodbye with his daughter, drives it into Crystal Lake, sacrificing himself for the good of mankind. Martin Lawrence marries the girl, and he’s introduced to his new partner, Will Smith. The credits roll as Nelly, P. Diddy, and Murphy Lee belt out the chorus of “Shake Ya Tailfeather.”
Stick around after the credits and you’ll see producer Michael Bay break the fourth wall by walking on screen, looking into the camera, and saying, “You’ve just witnessed the prequel to Bad Boys. All ticket sales are final, and we will award no refunds.”
So, in other words, not Michael Bay’s worst effort.