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Originally published Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 3:00 PM


Movie review

12th edition of "Friday the 13th": bigger budget, no less stupid

"Friday the 13th" is a "re-imagining" of the 1980 original that uses a couple of prologues to set up another story about a homicidal man in a hockey mask. It's just as stupid but not as scary as the original.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 1.5 stars

"Friday the 13th," with Jared Padalecki, Amanda Righetti, Aaron Woo, Derek Mears. Directed by Marcus Nispel, from a screenplay by Damian Shannon and Mark Swift. 100 minutes. Rated R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, language and drug material. Several theaters.

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Of all the slasher-movie franchises that still turn up in multiplexes, "Friday the 13th" has clearly been the luckiest.

Certainly it's never been the smartest or the best. Its massive box-office success gave us, in the words of Leonard Maltin, "one more clue to why SAT scores continue to decline."

Conceived as a ripoff of 1978's more intelligent surprise hit, "Halloween," the 1980 original has now produced more sequels and spinoffs than "Halloween." This weekend, a 12th installment in the series is being promoted as a "re-imagining" of the first film.

Directed by Marcus Nispel, who earned few fans for his 2003 remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," this new "Friday the 13th" has no more story than its predecessors. It's just another collection of colorful murders, performed by a powerful man named Jason who hides his apparently puritanical instincts behind a hockey mask.

Only the playful structure distinguishes it from the earlier films. There are two prologues.

One, which takes place in 1980, sets up the killers who haunt Crystal Lake and dispatch visitors with a ritualistic glee. It's followed by an episode set in "present day" in which Jason (Derek Mears) manages to kill off nearly all the kids who take ill-advised walks in the dark woods near the lake.

But the movie isn't even half over, so a new set of victims is required, and Nispel and his writers pick up the narrative six months later. Clay (Jared Padalecki), the persistent brother of one of Jason's victims (Amanda Righetti), turns up with an entourage to investigate her disappearance.

Killjoy that he is, Jason is incapable of taking a joke when a comic-relief victim (Aaron Woo) hands him a hockey puck to complete his outfit. Jason can't abide topless water-skiing on his lake, nor can he tolerate a couple making their own sex tape in a cabin.

Still, nothing here matches the crude shock of seeing Kevin Bacon with a spear coming out of his throat in the first "Friday the 13th."

Victor Miller, who wrote the script for the 1980 film, is mentioned in the credits, and the original's director, Sean S. Cunningham, is listed as one of the producers. Everyone's working with a much bigger budget this time, but the end result is just as stupid and not as scary as the original.

John Hartl:

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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