[Screen It]

(2009) (Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker) (R)

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Horror: As a young man looks for his missing sister, he must contend with a small group of partygoers who are unaware the cabin they're staying in is located in the same woods where a psychopath kills anyone who enters his environs.
Six weeks after his sister, Whitney (AMANDA RIGHETTI), went missing while hanging out with her friends near the long-abandoned Camp Crystal Lake campground, Clay Miller (JARED PADALECKI) is still searching for her. With no help from the local police, he's scouring the area with posters featuring his missing sibling, but gets little compassion from Trent (TRAVIS VAN WINKLE), a silver spoon jerk who's uptight about friends spending time with him and his girlfriend, Jenna (DANIELLE PANABAKER), at his father's cabin.

Little do they or their friends -- including Chewie (AARON YOO), Lawrence (ARLEN ESCARPETA), Bree (JULIANNA GUILL), Chelsea (WILLA FORD) and Nolan (RYAN HANSEN) -- realize that the woods are the home of Jason Voorhees (DEREK MEARS), a psychopath who reportedly killed everyone at the nearby camp decades ago and will do the same to anyone who enters his environs.

Determined to find his sister who -- unbeknownst to him -- is being held captive by Jason, Clay continues on his quest, accompanied by Jenna, but with no help from the others who -- one by one -- have deadly encounters with the masked serial killer.

OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
Let's face it -- there are truly scary horror movies ("The Exorcist," "The Shining") and then those that are more like haunted house carnival attractions where young people go to laugh themselves silly over the offered scares. The former work so well because they feature seemingly real people and thus viewers sympathize with their plight. The results are unnerving pieces of work that burrow under the skin and into the viewer's psyche where they often stay for a lifetime.

The latter are the kind best viewed with an enthusiastic audience of like-minded viewers who want nothing more than to see breasts and blood. There's no reason to care about the cardboard characters who are ultimately just fodder for the meat grinder as the "fun" for such aficionados is in rooting for the villain (nearly always hulking and emotionless -- a.k.a. the anonymous boogeyman) to find creative ways to dispatch his villains in the most gruesome fashion.

For those into such mostly fright-free mayhem, the "Friday the 13th" film series keeps delivering the goods, although what's delivered is rarely if ever good. Starting back in 1980 and then returning in sequel after sequel, the series didn't even stop when promised in "The Final Chapter" (1984) or "The Final Friday" (1993), and continued on through the most recent installments, "Jason X" and "Freddy vs. Jason" (the latter including the steel clawed boogeyman from the far better -- at least at the beginning -- "Nightmare on Elm Street" films).

Since they're relatively cheap to make, nearly always end up in the black at the box office and apparently don't require much creativity (even the blood and guts special effects no longer shock and have become redundant), it appears we'll never be free from such films. And that point is decidedly driven home with the remake -- or rebooting as they like to say nowadays -- of the original "Friday the 13th."

The original was nothing more than an opportunistic knock-off of the far, far better "Halloween" (the original 1978 flick, not its remake), with the only notable things being that it featured a then barely known Kevin Bacon (the recipient of the arrow through the neck death) and the big jump from your seat shock at the end that was a rip-off of the similar concluding scare in "Carrie."

Working from a screenplay by Damian Shannon & Mark Swift, director Marcus Nispel (who, you guessed it, also helmed the remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") starts off by giving us not one, but two prologues of sorts. The first quickly recaps the Jason origins from the 1980 film (distraught mother kills campers until she's beheaded), while the second teases that the remake is going to be a blessedly short film (campers looking for pot and sex are quickly dispatched one by one).

Alas, that segment is just the setup for the main film (a brother looking for his missing sister who was part of the first group of victims), although what follows is just more of the same -- only prolonged -- not only from that prologue, but just about every other slasher flick ever made. Simply put, young randy people -- looking for a good time via various means -- meet grisly ends where bouncy boobs and hacked jugulars coexist thanks to the work of the ultra-boring boogeyman.

And that's about it. While such material might have been shocking and even scary to some three decades ago, the preponderance of such films and similar "scares" since then has more than muted anything the cast (none of which is notable) or crew can do with the material. As a communal experience, some might get a kick out of the exploitative titillation, but if viewed alone, this would be far deadlier than anything Jason could use to dispatch his victims.

Unnecessary and offering nary anything novel, imaginative or creative to a subgenre that long ago ran its course and wore out its welcome, the only unlucky thing about "Friday the 13th" will be the saps who plunk down their money to see it and -- most likely -- financially encourage an equally boring and redundant sequel (yet again). The film rates as a 3 out of 10.

Reviewed February 10, 2009 / Posted February 13, 2009

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