I wasn’t sure what to expect with Friday the 13th. I honestly didn’t think it would be that scary, but I thought it would be because it would seem corny and have bad special effects. But then I thought maybe it would be super scary because it did spawn about a million sequels.
But no, it wasn’t scary. But not because it was corny (which it was) or had bad special effects (which really weren’t too bad). It wasn’t scary because there was no real fear until the last 15-20 minutes. There were plenty of gruesome, bloody murders (and plenty of women wearing no bras), but in the end everyone was sort of killed in a vacuum.
There’s a group of teenagers taking care of an abandoned summer camp, getting it ready to re-open. We know from a flashback that years ago two teenagers were murdered there after sneaking off to have sex. The movie starts with one of the teenagers trying to find a ride to the camp and is repeatedly warned about the camp being cursed. She hitches a ride with a guy who inexplicably doesn’t take her to the camp, but just randomly drops her off in the woods so she has to hitch another ride. But that other ride is the killer and she’s dead pretty quick. The rest of the teenagers know she hasn’t shown up, but doesn’t know anything that’s happened. As the teenagers spread out among the cabins, the killer picks them off one by one. But since they’re not really in a group anymore, no one knows that anyone is being killed. It’s not until the very end when lone survivor Alice (Adrienne King) starts discovering bodies that anyone knows anyone else has been murdered.
The end sequence is fairly scary when we find out that the murderer is Jason Voorhees’ mother, seeking revenge after Jason drowned at the camp while counselors were (according to the mother) too busy having sex. I realized as the movie started to come to an end that I didn’t actually know who the killer was (since we hadn’t heard a mention of Jason) or what the ending was going to be like, so it was an interesting twist when the killer was a middle-aged woman.
The scariest parts in slasher films are usually not the murders, I think. It’s the characters being stalked by a killer, being terrified, trying to defend themselves. Friday the 13th took a lot of that fear away. It’s an important movie in terms of film history, but not all that exciting.