I came into this new Friday the 13th expecting an updated version of the 1980 movie. I guess I realized on some level that it would bring in Jason instead of the no-longer-a-twist ending of the killer being his mom, but most of my anticipation about it had to do with better effects, looser restrictions around gore, and possible influence by torture movies like Saw and Hostel. In other words, I figured it would be a more graphic, disturbing version of the same basic plot from the first movie, but with Jason instead of his mom. Happily, it's way cooler than that.
I love how the reboot opens with the final scene from the 1980 film and actually has it set in 1980. For a brief second, I even wondered if I could make this fit somehow into the continuity of the other eleven films. But there's no doing that and as the movie unfolded, I didn't even want to. I enjoyed it as its own thing.
It quickly jumps ahead to the present day with adult Jason in a sack mask like in Part 2, murdering a bunch of campers who wander too close to his territory. Redheaded Amanda Righetti (whom I loved as Grace on The Mentalist) had all the marks of the Final Girl and I wondered if this was actually a remake of Part 2 with Righetti playing essentially Ginny.
But then she's attacked by Jason and there's another time jump - six weeks this time - to Jared Padalecki on a motorcycle searching for his missing sister. Of course his sister turns out to be Righetti's character and I was reminded of Rob from The Final Chapter. During the events of the movie, Jason's sack mask is torn off and he replaces it with an old hockey mask that he finds in a barn full of similar antiques. It's a much better explanation for the mask than the silly one from Part 3 where he stole it from a victim who had no business wearing it in the first place.
The reboot turns out to be a condensed version of the events of the first four Friday the 13th movies with professional actors and a great script. Since the filmmakers are no longer making the story up as they go along over the course of a few different films, everything ties together tightly and even the geography around the lake makes more sense.
The one thing I don't love is the ending. It feels like it has to go for that final, gotcha moment of Jason coming back up from the lake to get someone we all thought was safe. It's cheap and undercuts the relative realism of the rest of the movie and its villain. Rather than the lumbering, mindless killing machine that Jason was even before he became a zombie, this version moves and thinks like a real person. I love that he's fast. He doesn't just crash through the woods like the Terminator, he chases his victims. And while he's clearly deranged and we never fully understand him, there are hints about how he lives and sustains himself. That's all great, so it's too bad that at literally the last second the movie decides to suggest that he's supernatural.
As much as I enjoyed this though, I'm glad we never got any more of these. If I kind of reimagine that last shock as a dream or something, it's a perfect little horror film. I don't know where you take it from here without going down the same path that the series did with a copycat killer or an unkillable Zombie Jason. Those were fun and fine the first time around, but I really like this grounded, mortal Jason and sort of just want this to be all that there is.