DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: Friday the 13th Killer Cut

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer

    Feb 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
    XenForo Template

    Friday the Thirteenth: Killer Cut

    Directed By: Marcus Nispel

    Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, Aaron Yoo, Derek Mears, Jonathan Sadowski, Julianna Guill, Ben Feldman, Arlen Escarpeta, Ryan Hansen, Willa Ford, Richard Burgi

    Studio: Warner

    Year: 2009

    Rated: R

    Film Length: 106 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

    Release Date: June 16, 2009

    The Film

    In this re-booting of the Friday the Thirteenth franchise (continuity in the series is so loose one could convincingly argue for it as a remake or a sequel) we are introduced to Jason Vorhees (Mears), a masked killer who we learn via flashback has some serious mother issues. When a group of horny beer and pot-loving teenagers crosses his path near Camp Crystal Lake, they wind up much the worse for it. Among the teenagers reported missing is Whitney Miller (Righetti) whose brother, Clay (Padalecki), returns to the area to pass out missing person flyers months later. Clay crosses paths with another group of teens who are headed to a cabin owned by the parents of the spoiled obnoxious Trent (Van Winkle). While Trent and most of his friends are far more interested in sex, drugs, and boating than the missing Whitney, Trent's girlfriend, Jenna (Panabaker), is sympathetic to Clay's plight. While Jenna and Clay go searching deeper in the woods for clues as to Whitney's disappearance, Jason begins a new killing spree leaving everyone scrambling to survive.

    Executive Producer Michael Bay and Director Marcus Nispel saw box-office success with their re-make of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and in an effort to make lightning strike twice in the same place, re-teamed for this re-boot of the 29 year old Friday the 13th slasher franchise. The mission of Nispel and screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift appears to have been to re-imagine the franchise in a way that touches all of the bases that casual fans would expect (Machetes, hockey masks, sex, drugs, & booze loving teenagers, gruesome kills, a "stinger" scare every five to ten minutes, etc.), while smoothing out/rationalizing masked killer Jason's awkward back story and backing off the supernatural elements that were increasingly decoupling the films from reality.

    As a nod to fans, the filmmakers borrow elements of the first 3-4 films in the series and integrate them in various ways large and small. This means that we get to see Jason's killer mom, cloth-masked Jason, and hockey-masked Jason all in the same movie. The film starts with a 24 minute prologue that contains a flash back as well as Jason's first batch of kills before even showing the title card. During this sequence, Jason displays a sadistic torturous streak that is novel for the character, apparently in an attempt to keep current with the survival horror/torture trend of recent genre franchises such as Saw and Hostel. After this sequence, Jason is more or less the relentless killer fans have come to know and pay to see for going on three decades, although perhaps a bit more thoughtful than usual.

    In keeping with the tradition of the series, the teenagers are every bit as dumb as their predecessors, although the actors playing them appear to be a bit better than average. This particularly helps when it comes to caring at least a little about the fates of characters who are supposed to be sympathetic or comic relief. For those unfamiliar with the genre, in this context, "sympathetic" means any character with motivations beyond getting wasted and knocking boots. "Comic Relief" means any characters with interests exclusively in those two activities who are frequently thwarted at achieving either.

    Stylistically, the film is shot in a similar manner to Nispel's remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacrewhich basically means that 90% of the film is shot in either very low light or with day for night processing to seem like very low light. Jason does engage in at least one set of memorable broad daylight kills, but they are definitely the exception. Shots are framed per horror movie 101 guidelines with dead space in the frame frequently used to create anticipation of something terrible getting ready to appear in it. These moments are usually accompanied by silence on the soundtrack followed by a loud "stinger" piece of score and sound effects when the terrible thing appears. I would complain about it as a cliché if it was not still so darn effective after all these years. When scenes get especially frantic, the editorial pace quickens and more handheld shots are employed. These stylistic approaches are appropriate and work most of the time, but for some of the more elaborate pursuit sequences later in the film, the extreme darkness makes it difficult to understand the geography of the space around the characters sufficiently to make sense of their actions.

    As committed as the filmmakers were to delivering on fan expectations, they also kept up with some of the less popular traditions of the series including weak plotting and characters doing nonsensically stupid things in order to set up their own gruesome demises. With out giving too much away, the very last shot of the film captures it all in a nutshell. It is straight homage to the ending of one of the predecessor films but requires the characters to be doing something completely illogical to set it up.

    In any case, while I satisfied most of my appetite for dead teenager films back when I was a live teenager, fans of the genre and the series may get a kick out of this highly professional back to basics updating of a slasher franchise that had been veering off of the rails into self-parody in recent installments. The film itself is billed as an extended "Killer Cut". I cannot weigh in on how it differs from the theatrical cut since I have not seen it. The packaging lists this cut as being rated R, just like the theatrical release. Violence, nudity, and sex certainly seem to push the edges of that rating.

    Aside: As many pains as are taken to rationalize and make sense of the Jason character, his abilities, and his motivations, I was surprised that the filmmakers included nothing in the script to explain why the film would be called "Friday the 13th"

    The Video

    This is a very good 16:9 enhanced 2.35:1 transfer from New Line that renders the extremely dark cinematography about as well as one could hope in standard definition video. Film grain varies and gets a bit heavy during some of the dark shots where the exposure is being pushed hard, but the compression normally keeps up with it without looking excessively filtered. One daylight scene involving boating had some instances of light "jaggies" along fine edges that are generally not an issue in the rest of the film. Edge artifacts are minimal to non-existent.

    The Audio

    The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track presents the theatrical mix with good fidelity and plenty of dynamic range. Enough dynamic headroom is maintained throughout the film for the various scare moments to be heavily punctuated with sudden loud sounds. To be honest, I had to watch the conclusion of the film with dynamic range compression turned on in order to avoid either riding the gain with my volume control or waking up my family to the sounds of homicidal mayhem – never a good idea on a school night. Fans not subject to such constraints will likely find the soundtrack very effective at or near reference levels.

    The Extras

    Bonus material consists of a featurette and a set of three deleted scenes. All are presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

    The Rebirth of Jason Vorhees (11:31) is a making of featurette in which the filmmakers discuss how this franchise re-boot came to pass. It is presented in 4:3 letterboxed video. It tips the scales a bit in the direction of a promotional electronic press kit piece rather than a solid behind the scenes overview, but it does contain some interesting comments from the director and writers on their approach to the material, and most of the material from Make-Up Artist Scott Stoddard is very good. On camera interview participants include Producers Andrew Form & Brad Fuller, Director Marcis Nispel, Writers Mark Swift & Damian Shannon, Actors Derek Mears, Jonathan Sadowski, Willa Ford, Danielle Panabaker, Nick Mennell, Amanda Righetti, Julianna Guill, Travis Van Winkle, and Kyle Davis, and Special Effects Make-Up Artist Scott Stoddard. The last minute or two of the featurette consists of one of the same deleted scenes available elsewhere on the disc, but at least it has a contextual set-up, and you even get to see a special decapitated head make-up creation that was made for the scene.

    Under the menu heading of Additional Scenes (8:18) are two scenes that were re-staged and shot and one scene that was simply omitted from the final film. They are not individually accessible from the menu, but they are separated by chapter stops and presented in 16:9 enhanced video. Descriptions follow:
    • Alternate version of the scene where Jason acquires his hockey mask (2:51) – This was also used at the end of the Rebirth of Jason Vorhees featurette, but is presented here with better video quality. I actually like this a little better than the scene that replaced it in the film, but would have to employ spoilers to explain why.
    • Scene in Sheriff's Office where they receive the dispatch from Clay's 911 call (1:42) – This scene was probably an easy one to cut, but Richard Burgi does a good job as the Sheriff, so its nice to see it in this context
    • Alternate final confrontation with Jason (3:45) – This plays fine and is less protracted than the version in the final film, but it was probably re-done to make the terribly implausible ending marginally less implausible. In either version of this sequence, the filmmakers toy with Chekhov's notion that if you introduce a woodchipper in the first act, a character will be run through it in the third act.

    When the disc is first spun-up, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promos. All are presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio unless indicated otherwise below:
    • Warner Blu-Ray Trailer (16:9 enhanced video - 1:43) (They finally updated the one they have been using for months)
    • Freddy vs. Jason Blu-Ray Trailer (1:10)
    • Green Lantern: First Flight DTV Trailer (1:08)
    • The Cell 2 DTV Trailer (1:01)
    • Trick 'r Treat DVD/Blu-Ray Trailer (2:32)
    • Observe and Report DVD/Blu-Ray Trailer (2:21)


    The disc is packaged in a standard sized "Ecobox" case with an insert including a code allowing the user to download a reduced price Windows Media digital copy of the film.


    While not exactly my cup of tea, this re-boot of the seemingly unkillable Friday the 13th franchise brings Jason Vorhees back to Earth after a series of increasingly self-parodying trips to Hell, space, and other franchises. It pays homage to the first few films in the series while smoothing out Jason's motivations and introducing a couple of new twists. Fans of the genre and series will likely be entertained, although the hardcore purists will no doubt protest all perceived deviations from their idea of Jason, as has been the case with every sequel in the franchise to date. It is presented on disc in an extended "Killer Cut" with outstanding audio and video quality, a brief behind the scenes featurette, and three deleted scenes.


Share This Page