It’s back to classic horror, this time with the first in the very long running Friday the 13th franchise.
A group of teenagers sign up to be counsellors at a camp that is supposedly cursed. Arriving before the incoming campers their initial time is spent enjoying the idyllic surroundings, smoking weed, playing pranks on each other and engaging in a bit of fraternisation. However it soon becomes apparent that they aren’t the only ones at the camp and when a storm rolls in the campers are picked off one by one.
Friday the 13th is the origin of so many of the “rules” of horror movies. The virgin survivor, never saying “I’ll be right back”, heeding the town crazy who actually knows the deal… It might sound a bit hokey but you can see why the formula works when its done well. This film might be almost forty years old but it still feels fresh and its simplicity is a welcome relief from so many of the overly elaborate, supernatural modern horrors.
The film spends time establishing the relationships between the teens by just letting us watch them interact. This means they have a natural easy chemistry and the connection they have with each other is believable. There is a particularly tender relationship between Marcie (Jeannine Taylor) and Jack (Kevin Bacon) and their non-gratuitous sex scene actually feels correctly placed, a rarity in the horror genre.
As the bodies stack up the tension slowly increases as does the sense of impending dread and when the identity of the killer is revealed it’s a big surprise… well it probably would have been at the time. Betsy Palmer is amazing as the deranged Mrs Voorhees and her grief-fuelled attack is both terrifying and upsetting.
I didn’t love the final minute. I’m not sure it needed a last minute supernatural injection. Grieving mother goes mad is plenty scary enough. Otherwise this is a deserved classic that Mr O and I both thoroughly enjoyed.
You don’t have to be a horror movie fan to enjoy Friday the 13th, it’s just a good story that’s well acted and mostly pretty believable. Highly recommended.