If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: When it comes to horror, less is more. Write this little nugget of information down, aspiring horror movie writers, and refer to it often. When you're trying to scare an audience, the less we see, the more scared we are.
Think about it. Are three-year-olds more scared of the monster in their room's shadows when they only see its dark outline in the corner, or when they turn the lights on and realize it's actually their life-sized, inflatable Spongebob Squarepants doll?
Horror movie audiences are a lot like scared three-year-olds at night. When we see too much of what's lurking in the night, we sigh, perhaps let out a little chuckle and promptly yawn and go back to sleep.
Good for Mom and Dad, but bad for paying movie audiences seeking a good scare.
Let's get one thing straight: The 2009 version of "Friday the 13th" is in no way a remake of the original version which hit theaters in 1980. It's a Michael Bay-produced movie titled the same thing and supposedly featuring the same hockey mask-wearing antagonist, a lad named Jason Voorhies, except he looks like he's spent the past 29 years in the weight room, training to be a linebacker for the Chicago Bears. Whereas we weren't really certain (we never get a good look at him/her) who the killer was in the original, there's no mistaking who's slashing human flesh in the remake.
The new "Friday the 13th" spends the first 10 minutes of the film re-introducing us to Jason through a one-by-one series of heinous death scenes of young adults at Crystal Lake searching for a large crop of marijuana plants said to have been growing in the area.
The film picks up six weeks later with a crew of spoiled rotten, stereotypically annoying fraternity/sorority collegians spending the weekend at a posh lake house owned by the father of possibly the most annoying, snobbish jerk ever, Trent (Travis Van Winkle). The kids are there to do a limited number of things: namely, drink mass quantities of beer, smoke weed and have sex. Pretty typical teen horror fare so far.
The party hits a major lull, however, when Jason, a brooding, oafish creature standing about 6'8", shows up uninvited to their neck of the woods and wastes no time in making their party smaller, one attendee at a time.
The kill scenes (and the movie as a whole) go for a certain camp factor that all good (in a bad sort of way) horror films of years gone by seemed to have had. Unfortunately, the so-bad-they're-good attempts here mostly just come across as bad. There's nothing all that funny going on, and with shallow characters this annoying, one can't be all that disheartened when they quit breathing the country air at Camp Crystal Lake.
In this "Friday," all sharp objects are capable of piercing human flesh: arrows, machetes, tools, deer antlers. Many body parts are exposed, and much blood is shed. Too much is shown, and too little is left to the imagination.
And as we've already discussed, everyone knows a scary monster in the corner is scarier than an inflatable Spongebob Squarepants.
There is little here to suggest that this version of the classic horror franchise that is "Friday" was done for anything more than money. Of course, with an opening box office take of more than $43 million, it's clear Bay knows what he's doing.
But that doesn't mean that we really needed this movie. Or that I have to like it. Or that it's worth spending more than a rental fee on. Because it's not.
To the teens and young adults who are lining up to watch this I say, don't fool yourself. Watch the original. It's not the best horror film of all time, but at least it was original enough to be considered a classic. In this case, replacing old with new is like thinking Nickelback is the new Led Zeppelin. Please.
The old guy's been through a lot in the last 29 years. It's time to let Jason die. Surely we can think of a good reason for a killer to wear, say, a batting helmet.
Joel Sensenig is news editor of the Review Times. He keeps a flashlight on his nightstand just in case any creepy-looking shadows form in the corners of the room at night. It's made of metal, just in case it's not an inflatable children's show character.