Friday the Thirteenth

Friday the Thirteenth. Paramount Pictures 1980.

Before watching the movie:

Well, I reviewed Nightmare on Elm Street, so it was only a matter of time before getting to this one. It also happens to be a time where three important factors come together: the post goes up on a Friday the 13th, I remember I have this movie in the lineup, and I don’t currently feel it’s too cheesy to do Friday the Thirteenth on Friday the 13th.

I think this codified the modern slasher film, so I’m probably going to have to overlook a lot of apparent unoriginality and formula-reliance. Also, this is one of those stories that our culture doesn’t allow one to be ignorant of the end. But I’ll still be courteous to any rock-dwelling, internet-connected cinephiles.

After watching the movie:

In the 1950s, two counselors at Camp Crystal Lake getting frisky were brutally murdered. Almost 30 years later, the camp has a reputation for being cursed, what with that incident, the negligent drowning the year previous, and disturbances every time the camp has tried to reopen for business in the wake of the string of tragedies. And now it’s being reopened again. With a small group of teenage camp counselors left to their own devices the week before camp starts, one by one they’re picked off for grisly, unique murders.

I think I can say I’m officially immune to the horror genre. Part of it was the fact that I knew most of the twists, but I can say that the best thing this movie made me feel was boredom. The cheap buildups of tension just left me waiting for things to start happening again. Not that there was much happening anyway, since the plot is “teens get hacked to bits in the woods one by one”.

There were some standout moments where the campiness of the violence made me laugh, but it felt so inappropriate to be laughing that I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t care for the violence of Nightmare on Elm Street either, but it at least had dream mechanics to stay interesting and actual jokes that were supposed to be funny.

The only scene that I really liked wouldn’t have been as interesting if I hadn’t known what was coming. The killer finally appears on screen, but is apparently the last person in the world you’d expect to kill anybody, and the frightened sole survivor feels safe for a few minutes, while I know very well that she isn’t. This unfortunately didn’t last long.

It’s possible to do gore and titillation in a way that carries my interest. Heaping it in front of me is not it. I can see why all the future sequels went with a supernatural element. Besides the obligation in order to continue having a killer, it gave an actually interesting context to the blood and guts.

Watch this movie: With the lights out, and the TV off.

Don’t watch this movie: for any hope of subtlety.

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