We jump to the present day -- or six weeks prior to the present day, to be exact -- and five young, nubile thrill-seekers arrive at the long-defunct camp looking for a rumored marijuana field. They find the stash, but they also find a now extremely grown-up Jason wearing a sack on his head and carrying an extremely grown-up machete. He dispatches of the group in predictably fine slasher style.
We jump again to the present day -- really, this time -- to find Clay (Jared Padalecki) searching the Crystal Lake area for his sister, Whitney (Amanda Righetti), one of the five who went missing six weeks earlier. He's frustrated with the local police department's inability to find any evidence of foul play, although it seems like the townsfolk know all about the dangers of treading too close to the camp.
Clay approaches a house by the lake with his "missing" flyers and finds it occupied by a group of seven more young, nubile thrill-seekers. He strikes up a friendship with Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), who's all too willing to trot off into the woods with a total stranger to look for dead bodies. Of course, it takes them only an hour or so to stumble upon Jason's hideout in the old camp, but the now hockey-masked killer tracks them back to the lake house and commences his Iron Chef routine. The rest isn't so much a question of if they'll die as much as when they'll die and how painful it will be.
The End Product
The characters in this movie -- all either stereotypes of flat, listless shells -- are literally some of the dumbest I've ever witnessed, and for someone who's seen over a thousand horror movies, that's saying a lot. How many times can we look past the mind-numbing stupidity of people going to explore eerie abandoned shacks in the middle of the night? One character -- the black guy, naturally -- goes strolling outside alone even after being told that there's a killer after them. And don't get me started on the ending.
Just because it's a slasher movie doesn't mean the writing should be on autopilot. Tired cliche upon tired cliche is heaped on this terminally lazy script that seems too wrapped up in trying to deliver what the studio thinks fans want instead of bothering to create engaging characters, believable content or a plot that doesn't resemble a hunk of Swiss cheese. And while we're at it, can someone write a better reason for things to happen than "just because"?
On the bright side, the violence -- the crux of the movie -- is intense and well done and is the only reason that many of the audience members' eyes don't go rolling down the theater aisle. The kills are brutal, bloody and while not as creative as the franchise has been known to provide, befitting of the iconic Jason Vorhees. The opening scene of him dispatching of the initial group of campers is particularly rattling.
However, there's something not quite right about this Jason. Under the thumb of Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes production company and director Marcus Nispel, he feels more generic, like a standard horror movie psycho living in his meticulously dingy and disturbed lair full of chains and discarded toys (What, no doll heads?). The film often feels more like a modern, gritty "torture porn" flick than a throwback to its more fun '80s slasher roots. This edgier tone worked in Platinum Dunes' remake of the more disturbing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which Nispel also helmed), but here it feels out of place, leaving the movie in no man's land between the realistic violence of torture porn and the sensationalism of slashers.