Eventually, some enterprising filmmaker will cut right to the chase and make Sudden Shocks: The Movie, an entirely context-free feature-length compendium of loud noises and scary things moving abruptly into frame. Until then, people who go to the movies primarily to be startled can make do with the new Friday The 13th, an insistently pointless series reboot from the director of Pathfinder and the 2003 Texas Chain Saw Massacre remake. It’s almost charming in its sheer lack of ambition, but the lack of creativity in its by-the-numbers shocks is harder to excuse.
Nispel’s Friday The 13th isn’t a true remake; a dizzyingly fragmented montage dispenses with the original film’s storyline during the opening credits, as Pamela Voorhees dies (after delivering a typically thudding chunk of exposition: “You let him drown! Jason was my son!”) and her hellborn offspring Jason heads out into the world. From there, it’s another generic entry in the franchise, as Jason slaughters his way through one group of interchangeable twentysomethings who wander into the woods seeking a crop of wild marijuana, and then another group staying at the palatial family cabin of smug, fussy asshole Travis Van Winkle. There’s a smidgen of plot, as soulful local boy Jared Padalecki causes drama among Van Winkle’s group while seeking his sister Amanda Righetti, who was part of the first group. But like the sex play and drug jokes, it’s largely a backdrop to keep the machete-fodder occupied until Jason comes along.
By this point, anyone who shows up to a Friday The 13th movie should know exactly what to expect—naked boobs and ghastly murders, consecutively or concurrently—and Nispel’s latest coughs up both with uninspired, machinelike precision. Some self-aware humor finally creeps into the otherwise predictable proceedings, particularly courtesy of Aaron Yoo, whose lengthy, funny sequence of drunkenly talking to himself in a tool-filled shed passes for a highlight. (So does the appearance of the shed itself; its panoply of instruments of potential mayhem briefly but wrongly imply that Jason is about to exchange his signature machete for some more creative tools.) But mostly, the film operates like a vending machine: Put $10 in, and it spits out some prepackaged toplessness and gore. Jason apparently never gets weary, but this series sure has.