Monday, September 6, 2010

Why Don't I Like You?

Friday the 13th has never been rude to me or called me a bad name. It's never even cut in front of me in line, or refused to hold the door open. It's really been nothing but a nice film to me and yet for some reason, I continue to dislike it. Since I have never had a great reason for my dislike and because people hate when you tell them that you hate something but can't really explain why, I've decided to give Friday the 13th another shot. Just to you know, make sure that there's nothing there between us.

An hour and 30 minutes later and I'm still on the dislike side of the party. Not only that, but I've come to a few conclusions that better sum up my dislike for slashers in general. It's all slowly starting to make sense now.

Slashers are in many ways I think a movie that you can enjoy without really thinking about it too much. One of the main reasons our younger selves gravitate towards them is because we get it. There isn't this alternate meaning, or plots that need clarification from our older siblings. Things are straightforward, people get killed, we find out who did it and then they die. For this reason, Slashers to me aren't the most stimulating. As I said after my viewing of The Prowler, there's a lot of downtime. What happens in those moments of downtime between kills is pretty meaningless. It has nothing to do with the plot, and its only purpose seems to be to get characters from one place to another-so that they can die. This bothers me! I want things to happen. I don't like sitting around and watching strip Monopoly while I wait for someone else to die. I believe this is my main reason for not completely loving the Slasher genre.

However. And a BIG however. The problem and confusion lies in the fact that I do like some Slasher films. For instance, I love Sleepaway Camp, Curtains, Halloween and a Nightmare on Elm Street. There also happens to be downtime in those films and yet I still come away liking them. Why? As far as I can tell, the downtime is interesting to me. Things develop in the downtime that makes me care about the situation at hand. Character development, clues from the past that add up to a reveal at the film's conclusion, funny things, etc.

But what about Friday the 13th? There is virtually no clue or plot development that happens that has to do with the ending and the reveal of the killer. We have really never heard anything about Jason or Mrs. Voorhees till she pulls up and starts blabbing away in her sweater. This too, bothers me. In most Slasher movies, we either have a killer that we know is the killer and there is no doubt about it (Halloween, NOES) or we have a whodunit mystery killer (Sleepaway Camp, Curtains, Scream) that we are typically introduced to early on. This is not the case in Friday the 13th which makes most of the entire movie feel meaningless to me. The downtime is useless, nothing happens and we are forced to watch our main characters run through their daily lives until they are killed. That is boring and pointless to me.

Yes that is it! You see, the main problem I have with this film is that it is actually pretty boring. It really is and there's no amount of but "it's entertaining" that can change my mind. I don't find it entertaining---there aren't even enough moments worthy of a screen grab to make sort of funny joke about. I don't feel suspense and I never get that there's a sense of dread encircling our characters. Mrs. Voorhees doesn't feel like she's breathing down their necks--she's just always there, kills someone and then leaves.

Look, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings here. That is not my intention. The fact is, Friday the 13th and I just weren't made for each other. We don't necessarily hate one another--we just know that we'd do better apart. I get that it's iconic and how important it is to the slasher genre but that doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm not saying that Friday the 13th is a bad movie, I'm just saying that I don't like it. And I'm not saying I can't still be your friend if you like it. Just because Friday the 13th and I are no longer seeing each other, doesn't mean we can't still hang out with the same people. I will still be giving the sequels another go however. With Jason as the killer out in the open, maybe it will save that whole complex I have about the randomness of the killer and the lack of mystery in this film. If not, then no one can say that I didn't give it a shot.


Emily said...

I totally understand where you're coming from in regards to this movie, even though I personally like it, and am a fan of slashers (in a lot of cases). I do like this one, but I am hard-pressed to say just exactly why (just like you have a hard time saying why you dislike it- although I think your new insight into it is really interesting!). I love horror movies that I have to think about too, but I guess I love the mindless ones sometimes as well!

I do love this particular scene with a passion though because it is hilarious, and I love terribly funny dancing. You may have seen this clip before, but if not, hopefully you enjoy it :) Of course it is Crispin Glover's dance from part 4:

Liam [Less Than Three Film] said...

I like Friday the 13th the least out of the big three slashers (Halloween is superior, and A Nightmare on Elm Street is my favourite). I agree with all of the points you make - it's incredibly dull.

There are a couple of sequels that I prefer to the original for various reasons, so hopefully you won't find them too much of a chore.

Pax Romano said...

F13 was made for one reason only, to cash in on the success of Halloween. I am old enough to remember seeing this when it first came out and quite clearly recall the laughing, cat-calls, and booing during most of the movie. However, when Alice lops off Mrs. V's head, the entire theater erupted in applause, screams and shouts. Frankly, I'd never experienced anything like that in a movie house, ever.

As cheap as it is, the counselors are all warned to stay away from the camp. The people at the diner refer to Crystal Lake as "Camp Blood", Enos warns the one girl to "quit, just quit". And of course, Ralph knows everyone is doomed - so in a way, the locals are sort of like the Greek Chorus clearing the way for the avenging mother to show up.

Don't get me started on the subsequent films; Jason was alive, so what was Mrs. Voorhees point after all?

B.STANK said...

I never saw this relationship going anywhere from the beginning! While the 2nd date (pt2) may charm you, don't settle for anything less than what you deserve!

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Emily! I think we've talked about this dance scene numerous times but I can't wait to see it in entire film form....Oooh Crispin.

Thanks Liam, I look forward to at least giving them a shot and I'm sure I'll be more than entertained with their hilariousness.

Pax- Right you are sir! I think it did a pretty crappy job of knocking off Halloween since this film has no idea what suspense is...
And I'm right there with you on the ridiculousness of Jason. When I watch the sequels however I'm going to separate them in my mind from this. It's the only way, otherwise you're just doing the same equations over and over again and saying...wait a minute....HE'S DEAD.

Thank you B. Stank, I'll be sure to stay real to my heart!

DM said...

I, personally, really like F13 but I think you've done an excellent job calling out the film for its lack of plot development. It does have just a hint of character development, though, and the downtime, in my opinion helps us get to know and maybe even like the people.

In all honesty, I find most modern slashers to be quite irritating, mostly because all the characters seem to hate each other. I'd prefer more "boring" downtime over mindless squabbling any day.

Unknown said...

I liked Friday the 13th for a few reasons. First the fact that it was unafraid to be explicit,the characters were not unappealing, and there were a few genuine scares involved. I've seen quite a few high budget horror films and their sequels that have been far worse.

Emily said...

Haha. yep I'm sure we have. I guess I'm so obsessed with it that I mention it every chance I get! I guess I'm just so infatuated with Crispin and his superior dancing skills.

Andre Dumas said...

Thanks Divemistress. You are absolutely right about modern Slashers. In fact I don't even know if I've seen one lately....I'm trying to think besides the remakes but I guess I've avoided them all. It's true though, characters are only becoming more and more annoying. The characters in F13 are likable you are right, but then of course they are killed before any true bonds I had with them are final! I can never win.

Thanks Paul, all good reasons. F13 is surely not the worst slasher in the world, it's just stood out to me the most because so many people love it.

Highly Caffeinated said...

Perhaps it's the direction that really fails F13. I hadn't ever thought of it until last night when I went to put Jason Goes To Hell in the player, when I see in big writing 'From the Director of the original Friday the 13th' as its big promotional spot.
But, without looking it up, who directed the original? Or how about who directed NOES, TCM and Halloween?
Everyone knows those three directors, probably even known outside of us horror fiends, but F13? I think Google would struggle to remember who directed that.

Andre Dumas said...

Good point! He only has a small number of directing creds, most things he has done have been producing.

deadlydolls said...

I'm with you Andre. I can enjoy the films in the background, particularly during marathons or parties (who am I kidding; I don't actually know enough people that would allow me to put the series on in the background at parties, but that is my dream). On their own, however, they are not good. Save for the guilty pleasures that are parts 8 and 10, I generally say 'meh.'

And this is also why I often get angry in defending the SAW films. People attack them for being nothing but grisly murder after grisly murder, which is exactly what the F13 films are. At least SAW gives it an actual story that requires more than two brain cells to understand.

Chris Regan said...

Agree with some of your points, but I honestly think the final scene in the first movie is one of the most iconic moments in horror film history.

As is Crispin Glover's dancing in Part 4.

Dan said...

I actually agree with many of your points regarding Friday The 13th. Like another commenter, of the big three, this is my least favourite but I still like it. I think it has a remaining influence on the genre and was very much a product of its time. I think that's its defining quality - it really represents much of the angst and social upheaval of the time as well as the progression of the slasher genre.

CashBailey said...

The second one is so much better, if for nothing else than the presence of the awesome Amy Steel; still the best F13 Final Girl EVER.

MissSardonicus said...

Thank you for posting this. For years I've been in the closet about the fact that I don't have Jason fever. Don't get me wrong, I own the series and I'm actually occasionally in the mood to watch Part 2 (because yes, Amy Steele rocks my socks off) but the original bores me to tears. There's so much about the franchise that doesn't make sense to me. Part I seems particularly useless since Jason takes over as the killer in the subsequent films. On the rare occasions that I've had F13 marathons (I've got a lot of Jason-lovin' friends) I usually skip the first film entirely.

At the end of the day it just isn't Sleepaway Camp, you know? It's not serious enough for me to get truly invested in it and it's not fun enough to be campy. The kills could be so much more creative.

I guess you're either Team Jason, Team Freddie or Team Michael. The Friday the 13th movies are like that friend I hang out with once in awhile because I've known them so long but we really have nothing in common and I can't remember why we became friends in the first place.

Andre Dumas said...

Emily that is a very VERY interesting argument about Saw vs F13. You make a good point and I think....that I agree with you. I guess I never gave SAw much credit for that before but you're right. I look forward to reaching the guilty pleasures aspect especially Jason takes Manhattan.

Chris- The final scene is very iconic but iconic scene does not a movie make. In my head anyways. I don't knock on the film for being iconic and for really being one of the forerunners in the slasher craze at all. I just knock it because it isn't my thing.

Miss Sardonicus----yessss Sleepaway Camp. I think I said that in my review I would rather watch ALL of the Sleepaway Camps than F13, I guess it's just indicative of the kind of awesome person I am. I'm glad I got you out of the I don't really like F13 closet...!

Robert H. said...

F13 is pretty much a bad and empty film once you factor out the gore and campiness of it... it's essentially a really bad remake of Mario Bava's BAY OF BLOOD, which at least has a streak of black humor running throughout all the carnage.

Never really got all the Jason love, either. But then, I'm not a big fan of the slasher genre.

The Fiji Mermaid said...

I'm a Friday the 13th series fan, Mostly part 3-7. I didn't really gain a liking of part 1 until about 6 yrs ago. I think it was because I came into the series 3 movies later and liked the Jason character.

That being said I know enjoy the first one quite a bit. I think your attitude and thoughts about the film are totally valid and if you are not a slasher fan there isn't a whole lot there. To me those boring downtime scenes work fine because from their perspective (the counselors) they are just there hanging out getting the camp ready. I wouldn't expect to much action there, it seems more real in a sense rather than having them discover things and turn into a mystery they are trying to solve. The killer although not explained works because it gives me this unexplained type of scare that I can get into. Great write-up here. I enjoy reading your posts.