Friday The 13th (2009): Killer Cut [Blu-ray Review]

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Derek Mears
Directed By: Marcus Nispel

Running Time: Theatrical – 97 minutes Extended – 106 minutes
Ratings: Canada – 18A, USA – R, UK – 18

Movie

Friday the 13th Killer CutThere is a lot to say about the poor quality of entertainment inherent within the remake/reboot phenomenon that has taken Hollywood by storm over the last decade. Most people would argue that any celluloid strip that falls into the category is guaranteed to be rubbish. And, until now, I would have agreed whole-heartedly with that statement. There are only two films that exist as remakes/reboots that I can respect and Friday The 13th is most definitely one of them.

Being a modest fan of the franchise through the decades I felt that I had more than enough knowledge to approach this film with an appropriate critical mind. Like many others, I half expected this incarnation to be, what bloggers and forumheads now commonly refer to as, “a bastardization of my childhood.” However, it turns out that this film was made with an appreciation for what the original was all about at its core. The best thing about watching the original films was being able to let yourself get startled while laughing at the stupidity of young adults amidst a myriad of creative death blows (a.k.a. “frags”). There was never any intention of creating much of a dramatic undercurrent within the franchise. No audience member is ever meant to shed a tear. No audience member is ever meant to feel apathy for Jason more than the volume of a grain of salt. And this is exactly why the Friday The 13th remake is a winner in my books. It does exactly what I had come to expect from the franchise.

The production value on the film is really quite impressive. Each setting within the film is beautifully detailed. From vines growing through windows and floorboards to accent the many years that have past since Camp Crystal Lake was in operation, to the trinkets/tools/remembrances of his previous “endeavours” scattered throughout Jason’s lair, everything about the environment presented on screen seems to fit the universe accordingly. Likewise, the direction from Marcus Nispel uses many camera angles that bring the feel of the original instalments of the franchise to within modern day entertainment standards.

The slasher film genre has never been a haven for stand out performances by anyone in any type of role. In this case I was surprised to find that Jared Padalecki and Amanda Righetti actually had me believing that there was a sibling bond between them. It caught me off guard as I normally root for everyone to die in a Friday The 13th film. They obviously did something with their performances to make me care enough to NOT want them to be creatively disposed of. So, I guess that I should commend them on that. The rest of the cast served their purpose well. They each provided performances that were just different enough to offer variety in tone while offering the main character variety in his ongoing mission.

Friday The 13th does what is expected of it and doesn’t disappoint in the area of a classic slasher film experience. The creativity of the frags could have been a little more outrageous. However, anyone who appreciates the cult elements of the franchise will surely be able to look beyond the exclusion of modern gore-porn detailing and giggle with every head that rolls and every sharp object protruding through a chest cavity.

Crave Factor – 9

Extras

PIP With Trivia Track – The pop-up window that appears during film playback takes up about 30% of the screen. It presents interview and set footage with information that pertains to given scenes or production aspects of the scene on screen. There is plenty of information pertaining to how production was always geared towards very specific intentions. The trivia is presented in the same video pop-up screen as prolonged stagnant text. I recommend this extra feature for anyone who is a fan of the franchise beyond just what appears between the opening and closing credits. Anyone else probably would find the PIP window popping in and out to be a major distraction.

The Rebirth Of Jason Voorhees (11:24) – This is a nice featurette that touches on a number of key points regarding how the team went about determining their intentions regarding what the film was going to focus on. There is just enough information to keep you interested without being a bloated documentary style presentation.

Hacking Back / Slashing Forward (11:41) – A great descriptive collection of interviews from people involved with the project as to why the film deserves more credit than it received. They pretty much echo my sentiments about this being a superb throwback to what was most enjoyable about watching the original instalments of the franchise.

7 Best Kills (22:33 as ‘Play All‘) – A neat look behind how the cast and crew managed to bring some of the best frags of the film to life. Here you get interview footage mixed nicely with on set footage and actual film footage. Although the kills seem rather simple while watching the film, it turns out that this feature proves otherwise.

Additional Scenes (8:19) – The only material worth anything in these 3 scenes is the first 3 minutes. It is an alternate death scene for the redneck where Jason gets his hockey mask in a much different fashion than presented in the final cut of the film.

Crave Factor – 7

Video

2.40:1 Widescreen / VC-1

The best parts of any slasher film take place at night and with Friday The 13th there is certainly no exception to that rule. Therefore, there is plenty of opportunity to simultaneously witness what this transfer has to offer, as well as what it lacks. First, since they are so dominant in the frame, let’s touch on the black levels. Black levels don’t fare so well in this transfer. In plenty of instances I noticed nearly no separation in the blacks of the surrounding area. And, in the dark, even the lush greens of the forest get pulled into this effect a bit. In those instances the image becomes relatively flat and obscure looking for a Blu-ray. The inconsistent nature of this scenario implies that it was not a decision made intentionally by director and/or director of photography. As a result, the depth of the environment gets crushed down and loses the layers that give Blu-ray technology its extra visual boost over DVD. Thankfully, this weak representation of the black levels does not cause any banding or artifacting. The transfer holds up well in that regard considering how soft the blacks get.

Aside from the blacks being rather dull at times, the rest of the transfer looks fantastic. Colours really look amazing with flesh tones (lots of them) being especially spot on. During one physically intimate scene between two people, the young lady’s blushing body is superbly captured with natural pinks aglow. The yellows and oranges of robust flames also come to life with vigour. Likewise, all the colours of the forest environment also have get their due… when the sun is shining that is.

Crave Factor – 7

Audio

Dolby TrueHD 5.1

Paramount has released a modest lossless soundtrack with their Dolby TrueHD 5.1 presentation of Friday The 13th on Blu-ray. The dialogue is a little bit weak at times when characters are mumbling something to themselves that is meant to be humorous to the viewer. The rest of the dialogue is also just a fraction of a hair low in the mix for my taste. It seemed like most of the film I was just having to try a little bit to hear the dialogue when all of a sudden the action would kick in and I could just sit and enjoy. And, at those points, enjoy I did.

The sound effects and environmental detail really get some nice chances to shine throughout this presentation. Clear and powerful is the name of the game when it comes to all of the pain endured by the cast of characters. Gushing, squirting, slicing, stabbing, and impacts are all represented with a detailed precision that will cause you to make the “ooooohhhh” face almost every time. There aren’t many opportunities where the environments get featured; but when they do, they are used quite effectively and efficiently. Surround satellites come to life at just the right moments to create the perfect suspense for impending doom. Movement in the brush off screen doesn’t just get the characters on screen to turn their heads. The viewer is compelled to turn their head as well. At one point rain can be heard falling all around the room.

Overall, the sound isn’t perfectly balanced between dialogue and effects/score. But, the effects and score do a great job at bringing the experience off of the screen.

Crave Factor – 8

Menu

This Blu-ray does not feature a main menu.

The playback pop-up menu serves its most basic function in providing easy navigation to all playback options and special features.

Crave Factor – N/A

Conclusion

Fans of the Friday The 13th franchise should be content with this Blu-ray presentation. Aside from its shortcomings in the video quality department, it still is the best presentation one will be able to get of the film. The HD audio adds another dimension to the experience as the surrounds inspire a heightened sense of doom when needed. The dialogue is a bit weak in volume at times, but altogether tolerable… after all, who watches a Friday The 13th film for the dialogue? Honestly! The extra features on this release are interesting, relevant, and somewhat poignant as well. Overall, the marginal price difference between the DVD and Blu-ray make this Blu-ray a must have for anyone looking to add the title to their collections.

Overall Crave Factor
8

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