Anyone who knows me also knows that I love horror films. I love the whole spectrum of horror, and I appreciate the various corners and caveats to the genre. In addition to that, I love the psychology – or the meta-horror, dare I say – that goes along with being a true fan of horror.

The author’s name currently eludes me, but I recall reading a film theory essay in college on the aesthetics of the slasher film. This author distinguished, at length, the difference between horror and the sub-genre known as the ‘slasher’ film. Whereas the former sticks to pretty standard principles of psychology (unnatural, anomalous occurrence + violence + YOU = unpleasant and startling impulses), there’s in fact something more craven and deep-seeded in the latter. In its truest form, the slasher film, so the argument goes, is about tearing down and destroying institutions and cultural mores that we the viewer lack the courage to do ourselves. Our avatar, our champion, becomes a blade-wielding killer, monster or both; and our victims the frivolous, selfish, thoughtless and promiscuous teenagers who ultimately fall victim to our surely misunderstood and neglected champions. Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees…these men aren’t monsters. They’re working-class heroes. They are prophets of piety and asceticism – much like Moses, or Howard Beale in a hockey mask.

I obviously don’t buy into most of this, but one sliver I believe to be true: whether we like it or not, we relate to these fantastical villains. Be it latent or overt, at some point the slasher flick becomes a spectator sport, and you’re cheering for the home team (think about that disappointing feeling you get at the end of such a film, when your brain connects the dots and realizes just who will be the lone survivor in this gruesome after-school special).

This leads me to my thesis: Remaking Friday the 13th is a terrible idea.

But why, might you ask? After all, the formula will undoubtedly remain consistent: Teenagers go to camp, teenagers anger God, God sends Jason Voorhees to punish them (instead of a bear, we get a masked psycho. Which do you prefer? Does it really matter?).

But while all of the necessary components are there for a good slasher film, the biggest problem I foresee is the place and time. The horror genre of the 21st Century has regrettably succumbed – at least here in the state’s – to fetishism (I know, I know, Asian horror is always drowning young women, so who exactly has the real fetish problem, but I digress). All 97 Saw films – along with their equally awful fellow travelers – have reduced horror to the act of death rather than the two key factors that bookend it: Fear and destruction. The former is the foundation of the horror film, while the latter is crucial if we’re to learn anything from the violence we’ve witnessed over our buttered popcorn.

Much like they did to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the writers and producers of Friday have undoubtedly stripped the film of its crucial place and time. Opting not to do a “period” piece, the makers of this pending train wreck thought it best to shoot the film in modern times. This strips the film of its appropriate context, in my mind. The original Friday – although filmed mostly in the south and elsewhere – is plotted in upstate New York. The victims, presumably from downstate or areas more urban and alien to the upstate region, are immediate outsiders in the country. This theme is tangible and visible in the original films (before the series got ridiculous), and it exploits a 1970s-early 1980s camp culture in New York that simply doesn’t exist anymore. No one thinks to go upstate to “get away” any longer, because suburbanization and ex-urbanization in the state have changed the dynamic between New York City and her outlying regions.

Outsiders vs. locals, Upstaters vs. city folk. This is another important component to the film, one that is undoubtedly lost in the remake. The City was a subject of derision and shame in the 1970s, and this plays out in the early days of the Friday series. There’s a subversive and revolutionary justice to Jason’s misdeeds in those early films, but this will surely be lost in the new.

In remaking Friday the 13th in 2009, we lose a little piece of cinematic counter-culture. Instead of the swift hand of God, Jason Voorhees is now co-opted by the blood fetish of 21st Century horror. Just another killer, just another monster to slay and resurrect over and over again for a quick buck.

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