Friday the 13th

Chewie knows his place in this determinedly un-new Friday the 13th: Asian Nerd About to Die.

Friday the 13th

Director: Marcus Nispel
Cast: Jared Padelecki, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Righetti, Danielle Panabaker, Derek Mears, Travis Van Winkle, Willa Ford
MPAA rating: R
Studio: New Line Cinema
First date: 2009
UK Release Date: 2009-02-13 (General release)
US Release Date: 2009-02-13 (General release)

Watching a beautiful blond girl writhe and sigh with a bottle of liquor pressed to her lips, Chewie (Aaron Yoo) sighs. Down at the other end of the sofa, Nolan (Arlen Escarpeta) espies his friend's yearning. While Chewie fantasizes about coming back in another life as a button the dancing girl's short shorts, Lawrence tells him to go for it, even hands him a flaming shot glass as an offering for the golden goddess. For a moment, Bree (Julianna Guill) deigns to flirt with her supplicant, ensuring her place as Slutty Girl About to Die. But Chewie knows this teeny moment is the end of it. He knows his place in this determinedly un-new Friday the 13th: Asian Nerd About to Die.

Poor Chewie. He doesn't titillate, dance provocatively, pull off his shirt to show supple flesh, seduce the rich frat boy or go water skiing. Instead, he serves the more pedestrian purpose of gross-out relief, slurping beer from his own filthy sneaker and stumbling into the killer Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears) out in the tool shed. This after Chewie has downed way too many shots and so doesn't grasp the gravity of the encounter. He nods amiably at the monster, then proffers a hockey stick he's found in the shed: "It really completes your outfit," he grins.

The joke sets up Chewie for his bloody end, as it is inevitably lost on the humorless Jason. It also reminds you of why movies like this include characters like Chewie -- clever, cute, and kind, genuinely naïve and usually high, but not stupid. With protagonists generally as lug-headed and mechanical as their executioner (even if more tanned, pretty, and injudicious), the secondary players provide much-needed emotional and moral respite. They point out the silliness of the proceedings, characterizations, and costumes, providing a position outside the dire tête-à-tête between the major players so that viewers can feel righteously smart and superior, aware of the machinations but not invested in them.

Chewie's delivery to these expectations helps you feel removed from his less charming compatriots, primarily his competitor for Bree's attentions, Trent (Travis Van Winkle). Articulating his secondary place here, Chewie makes clear his actual function: along with Lawrence, he suggests that the white-on-white leads are open-minded, as they bring along their Friends of Color to die with them out in the woods. Trent is hateful from jump, rich and reckless regarding his plucky, smarter-than-he-is girlfriend Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), uptight about the expensive furnishings in his dad's Crystal Lake getaway home and trying too hard to dominate the intrepid interloper, Clay (Jared Padalecki). When he blames Chewie for breaking some family heirloom and sends him outside to fetch tools in that odious tool shed, Trent seals his own fate as the Bully Who Needs to Die.

Which is to say that everyone's fate is sealed in this Friday the 13th, directed by Marcus Nispel as a straight-up, mostly dim homage to the 1980 original. Deemed a "reboot" for its acknowledgement (and tedious prologue rehearsal) of the first movie's twist (i.e., Jason's mother did it), the movie shows more of everything, from enhanced tits and bouncy sex acts to substance abuse and bloody penetrations. It goes on to pseudo-psychologize its monster, such that Jason's mom fixation motivates his inexorable violence ("They must be punished, Jason" mom gurgles while dying in that opening scene, "for what they did to you, for what they did to me. Kill for mother." Yes, it's all her fault, somehow, even more than before.

Jason, for his part, remains inscrutable throughout his rampaging (a scene where he trades in a raggedy cloth mask for the iconic hockey mask, here found among attic detritus, passes for sign of his self-aware wit, as he gazes on his new look in a broken mirror, not to display satisfaction per se, but to suggest he has a sense of his "outfit").

In this case, the rampaging is broken into three sections -- the mom's incentive scene, a 20-minute slash-up that leaves all but one victim horrifically dead, and the story of Clay, who comes looking at Camp Crystal Lake for his missing sister Whitney (Amanda Righetti), spared during the "six weeks earlier" section because she resembles Jason's mom and now imprisoned in a dark underground place, reached by tunnel (let's just say, the symbolism is not subtle). The siblings also have a dead mom (lost, he explains away in a half-sentence, to cancer), but of course their coping mechanisms are less extreme. In separate scenes, both Clay and Whitney rummage through Jason's stuff, discovering rudimentary clues to his demented psyche. Made scrutable, the monster is just dull.





How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.


From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?


The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.


'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.


​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.


Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.


Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.


Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.


Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.


Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.


Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.