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Friday, September 13, 2019

Review: Friday the 13th

Director: Sean S. Cunningham
Screenplay: Victor Miller and Ron Kurz
Year: 1980

How could I let pass the opportunity to review "Friday the 13th" on an actual Friday the 13th? It would be absurd and maybe even irresponsible on my part. "Friday the 13th" is the first in the long list of movies in this saga, made popular by its violence and by the imposing and practically immortal Jason Vorhees, a name that has become synonymous with horror cinema.

In "Friday the 13th" a group of teenagers go to a camp to prepare it to receive many kids during summer. None of them know about the reputation of this place, which started after a boy drowned because he was not properly watched. The counselors that were there ended up dead and since that, it is considered by locals as a cursed place that they have named Camp Blood.

Alongside “Halloween”, which was released two years prior, they popularized the slasher genre during the ‘80s, where “A Nightmare On Elm Street” joined four years later. These, together with other lesser-known titles, popularized the concept of an intimidating assassin brutally killing teenagers. They also made popular the often mocked concepts of young people that have sex and consume drugs and alcohol are brutally killed and the final girl who has to overcome adversity to survive and who usually symbolizes innocence exemplified in this movie by Alice (Adrienne King; "The Good Son").

As what happened with other horror film successes, this movie served to catapult the career of young promising actors towards stardom. The most known case is the one from Johnny Depp in “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, where he had his chance to debut as an actor and we already know what he has achieved. In “Friday The 13th” it is Kevin Bacon who, although it is not his acting debut, was not a known actor , but who has achieved plenty of success in his career afterwards, some of those in the horror genre with moves such as “Tremors”, “Hollow Man”, and “Stir of Echoes”.

At this stage, with a movie that has been so popular and that about 40 years have passed since its debut,  it’s easy to assume that there is not much to spoil about it, so in this review, I will take some liberties. First, the killer of this movie is not Jason but his mother, Mrs. Vorhees (Betsy Palmer; "Penny Dreadful"), willing to seek revenge for the death of his son in anyone who gets to the camp. Here is where the problems of this movie begin.

During its full runtime, we see how the youngsters are being killed one by one in a realistic way, to a certain extent. Now, when the killer is revealed, all of that crumbles down. I’ll just give the example that one of the killed is a young man that could easily double in weight the killer, but he ends up pinned to a door with multiple wounds. In creativity and gore it does well, but in realism is not that lucky. This problem is accentuated when the whole story is too simple and with weak character development and at the end, the only interesting thing left is revealing the killer. When this moment comes it creates a lot of questions and doesn’t have the desired effect. 

“Friday the 13th” is an overrated movie that is surprising that it was the starting point of one of the most known slasher movie series and one of the most popular villains in the horror genre. Generally, its rhythm is slow and its characters uninteresting and the final reveal is not as impactful as it should have been. The final scene in the river, some deaths, and the awesome background music is the only thing salvable from this movie. Of course, seeing it so many years after being released takes much impact from it, but still, there is not much to save from this movie.

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