Sean S. Cunningham’s thriller, Friday the 13th, is a fun if rather inconsistent trip. The plot follows a group of college counselors who have come to Camp Crystal Lake, to help set up shop for a new camp in two weeks. Unknown to them however, is that the campsite has been the site of multiple horrors – horrors that await them as well.
The movie starts off in an interesting way, with the camera following the unsuspecting victims as opposed to a masked killer. Quickly the victim is slain, but the assailant is unseen. This is one of the more interesting aspects of the movie and keeps the “guess-the-villain” game interesting. The reveal was shocking and fun, even if by the end movie, the plot felt even more convoluted.
The special effects are fun and grizzly, in a shocking but comical way. There were quite a few “out-there” deaths and cadaver placements. Though over the top, they’re quite disturbing in nature, and help unsettle the viewer. Even though I didn’t think some of the scenes were scary, they were adventurous and kept some level of excitement at play.
However, in spite of some changes to the structure of the slasher story, the film feels painfully obvious at other times. There’s no attempt at characterization here, so even though the actors/actresses attempt to act shocked, there’s not a real sense of terror. Everything feels impersonal, but not in a way that requires any form of critical thinking- making the experience hollow. The twists are provocative and welcome when they do come, but they’re far too few and come far too late.
There are certainly thrills and a fun time to be found in Friday the 13th, but don’t come in expecting any significant nuance or depth. The special effects and the roller coaster that is the third act will keep you entertained in spite of the issues.
7.2/10. If you like slasher films or just want a thoughtless horror film with some cool and innovative kills – this movie should be a good time.
Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!