Here's another one I think gets just a wee bit of a bad rap when it comes right down to it. Speaking personally, this didn't really affect me in the same negative way it affected oh so many classic 'Friday' fans. I went into this expecting a bunch of horned-up teenagers and/or young adults to get stalked by a big lug wearing a hockey mask, and that's what was delivered. Not only that, but I had to appreciate that this seemed to take the first four 'Friday' movies, toss them in a blender, and give us something a little more shortened.
We start things out with a bit of a recap during the opening credits. We see (presumably) Alice decapitate Jason's mother while a young Jason watches from the bushes. He then finds the machete that killed his mother and takes it, plotting a drawn-out revenge based on his Mother's voice in his head instructing him to "make them pay for what they did." In other words, in true 'Friday the 13th' fashion, anyone found "breaking the rules" is gonna find themselves at the business end of Jason's machete.
Once the credits roll without giving us a title, the film introduces us to a group of five twenty-somethings who are backpacking through the forest near Crystal Lake, tracking down a marijuana field. While they set up camp for the night, the story of Jason is told by the fire to set the mood, and it's not long before they start getting picked off by the real Jason (Derek Mears) pretty quickly. Just when you start to wonder why Jason is moving through these victims so quickly, the title screen appears as a friendly reminder that "this is only the beginning."
Enter a whole new group of stereotypical leads; Trent (Travis Van Winkle), the jock; Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), the lead girl; Chewie (Aaron Yoo), the stoner; Lawrence (Arlen Escarpeta) the intellectual, and Bree (Julianna Guill) the sexual eye candy. However, this time, instead of an all-out typical 'Friday the 13th' excursion where it's as simple as "Jason kills these guys and one survives," we also follow our main protagonist, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) and his search for his missing sister, Whitney (Amanda Righetti), who was part of the original group we saw in the beginning.
On Clay's search, Trent doesn't offer much help, but Jenna genuinely wants to help, and as one might expect, this causes some tension between Clay and the rest of the group - namely Trent... who, by the way, may or may not be the Trent from 'Transformers.' It's fun to think about both films with Michael Bay's name attached to them and this being a possibility. Then things pretty much play out as one might expect from a 'Friday' title, and we get more of the same, but with some interesting alterations that are minor enough that they don't ruin things. Perhaps most prominently, Jason's system of underground tunnels he moves around in.
Much like 'Freddy vs. Jason,' I feel like this comes with an extra breath of "you just can't please everyone." Personally speaking, I ended up getting pretty much what I came to see. I'm not sure I get what people expected from a title famous for portraying pretty much what it delivered. I've heard things associated with juvenile humour and bad dialogue being what ruins it, but have these people watched the ones from the 80s? I stick to my guns that the cheese factor on these movies is part of what makes them so much fun, and this has one of the most cringe-worthy but hilarious compliments in any of these movies as far as I'm concerned. Gets me every damn time and uses the word "stupendous."
Bringing it back a bit to portraying the first four original films, the opening credits pretty much cover the first film, the 20-minute opening covers 'Part 2', Jason finds his hockey mask in the middle of things, covering 'Part 3', and Clay comes into the scene, alone, in search of his sister, which was a strong element of 'The Final Chapter.' Because of all that, I thought this was a great intro movie for anyone unfamiliar with Jason without going through four whole movies. I totally get that this movie isn't without its problems, but 'Friday the 13th' is loaded with imperfection, I think that helps give it its charm, and I decided not to allow this one to be any exception to that rule.