Here is our very first RANDOM BLOG!!!
I sit down every once in a while and appreciate the fact that Hollywood is so awesome and overflowing with ideas that all that’s really left are remakes, reboots, bad sequels, good sequels (occasionally), and the dreaded ORIGINAL IDEA!!!! So, let’s compare a classic with its remake dubbed reboot which is really just an homage of the first half of the series (You know, the GOOD half).
Friday the 13th as many people might know is a classic slasher film. It started what others didn’t. It wasn’t the first slasher film as that title belongs to Peeping Tom (but who really cares, it might not even be the first one), it wasn’t even the first of the most well-known slasher film as that title belongs to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and it didn’t star anyone who would eventually become the quintessential Scream Queen, as that title appropriately belongs to Jamie Lee Curtis (Daughter of Janet Leigh from Psycho which ISN’T a slasher film mind you) whose acting debut was Halloween.
No, Friday the 13th doesn’t have any of that. What it did start was the archetypes that we know and love to this very day. All of the others had a few of the stereotypes but none of them fit the mold that Cabin in the Woods would point out with more aggression than a high school football linebacker. You have the popular guys, Jack (Kevin Bacon when he was Cheap, courtesy of Everything Wrong with Friday the 13th by Cinema Sins), and Bill (Harry Crosby), the popular girl Marcie (Jeannine Taylor), the joker, Ned (Mark Nelson), the ‘virgin’ Alice (Adrienne King) and the brainy girl Brenda (Laurie Bartram). What was nice about Friday the 13th, the original of course, was that while their basic character types were just that, their basic traits. While none of them had any real characterization (half of them die within the first hour), they had a few things about them that made them stick out. Further sequels would ignore this for most characters and simply make them carbon copies or just stereotypes.
Almost thirty years later came a reboot that managed to cram the concepts of the first four films into one with literally half the number of teenagers, twice the number of stereotypes paired with less characterization for each. We open with five teens, two couples and a fifth wheel because that is precisely how friends go about their vacations these days. Meet Whitney (Amanda Rigetti), obviously beautiful and spirited, her boyfriend Mike (Nick Mennell), a little sexual and definitely caring of his girlfriend’s feelings, fun-loving jokester Wade (Jonathan Sadowski), and the sexually overcharged Richie and Amanda (Ben Feldman and America Olivo) people who might as well be cardboard cutouts of actual human beings. Thankfully they weren’t even trying to make us believe that these people are under the age of eighteen, it wasn’t that believable. Twenty minutes in, of course, they all die in horrible awful, brutal ways that are rather imaginative considering what we get for the rest of the movie.
We move on to other teenagers played by people you probably know by the year 2015; Danielle Panabaker plays good girl Jenna, Travis Van Winkle plays the asshole Trent, Aaron Yoo plays weed obsessed Chewie who is breaking down stereotypes, Arlen Escarpeta plays similarly weed obsessed Lawrence who is also breaking down stereotypes, Willa Ford (I Wanna Be Bad!!!) plays bland blonde Chelsea, Ryan Hansen plays Nolan, her fratboy boyfriend who is… basically Dick Casablancas sans a few hundred thousand dollars in the bank account, and Julianna Guill plays the smoldering temptress Bree (thank god someone is grounded enough in the situation as to ignore the fact that her boyfriend is cheating on her with someone we can only assume is one of her best friends and remember that there is a PSYCHOPATH chasing them with a wide array of sharp objects). Outside of all of them is the Memetic Sex God that is Sam Winchester…. Oh? That’s not his name? Seriously Jared Padalecki was basically Sam Winchester sans a brother and plus a sister but that’s beside the point.
This just goes to show that if you make a formula that is semi-successful that you shouldn’t ever change that formula no matter how sick and tired of it people grow over the years. Formulas good, originality bad.
Not only is Friday the 13th steeped in formulaic tradition, each and every version is a prime example of one of my favorite pet peeves… where film goers are concerned. One of the number one complaints that I always hear when talking about the slash film subgenre in general is that these people are idiots for not acting like they’re in a horror film…. Crickets literally sound in the background whenever I hear this or any variation of this.
Let’s look at the reason as to why this is not only an unfair statement but an ignorant one at that. Go back to the last horror film you watched and take notes on what the characters do. How many of these things are something you do on a regular or semi-regular basis. When you’re on vacation, generally your inhibitions are lowered for one, but you’re also with your friends and in this genre it’s always a large group of five+ individuals. How often in your life do you act as if your friends have been brutally butchered throughout the day? Now, how many of these characters act like their friends have been brutally butchered throughout the day until they actually learn that their friends have spent the day, or weekend, being brutally butchered? That’s right! You don’t act like your friends have been brutally butchered because you really don’t know that until the first body lands in front of you spewing blood all over your precariously white jean shorts. Who would have thought that acting like nothing is going on is the correct way to act when you legitimately don’t know that anything is going on? It isn’t stupid to think that your friends are playing a joke on you, it isn’t stupid to ask if someone’s out there when you hear a strange noise, it isn’t stupid to walk around the house in the dark at night because you don’t want to disturb your friends who you don’t know are already in the process of rigor mortis, you have absolutely nothing to fear because you don’t know that there is some violent murderer wandering the camp grounds, suburban streets, or recreation center or whatever else teenagers are getting butchered left and right in.
The first thing people need to remember about slasher films. The characters don’t know they’re in a slasher film. They don’t know they are being stalked by a psychopath. How many times do you sit in front of a police procedural’s opening scene lamenting the poor person who’s about to be brutally beaten, raped, murdered or all three in varying order? Do they act like they know they’re being stalked?
So remember, the next time you sit down and watch a horror movie, slashers in particular, don’t yell at the characters for their actions. Imagine yourself in the situation. You wouldn’t act any differently because you also don’t know that you’re being stalked by a psychopath.