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Review Friday the 13th (1980): The one that started it all.

genre: horror, slasher







The first film in a series that started one of the most popular horror franchises. For that alone Friday the 13th deserves a lot of credit. Unfortunately there is not a whole lot else that makes this horror stand out from the other slasher titles. Actually it's a bit disappointing if you compare it to it's sequel that is far superior to this. I know quite rare.

I suppose that if you watch this for the first time and you have never heard of this franchise before you might appreciate this more. Like in a lot of slasher films they don't reveal the killer's identity until the final part and up to that moment you get to enjoy the delicious bloody murders. Tom Savini was responsible for the special make-up effects and it shows since they look spectacular even today. However it's the lack of tension or dread that prevented me from getting super excited or thrilled. Granted I already have seen this a couple of times and know who the killer is. Although a true horror classic would still manage to captivate me in other ways. For example there are no red herrings. Not knowing the killer is one thing. But what if the killer is one of the camp counselors? Wouldn't that be more thrilling? No real attempt is made to make you doubt any of these counselors or other characters since there aren't that many to begin with. The audience also don't get to know these characters that well. It would have been real helpful if we at least had learned why camp leader and initiator Steve Christy was so adamant of starting up this camp again. Especially considering the fact that quite a few people had died in this camp and it was said that this camp was cursed or jinxed. The only thing we get to know about Steve that he is in a real hurry to finish up the camp, that he fancies Alice and that he likes to be the boss. If for example Steve had been more creepy and weird like Crazy Ralph then you could suspect him of the killings. It would have made the film more suspenseful. 

Not learning enough about the characters also makes it hard to care for them. I did not find any of them particularly annoying but I wasn't really scared for them. You might recognize Kevin Bacon but you will hardly be impressed by his performance since he is not given that much to do. Even Alice who is the main character doesn't have much dialogue or is given background on. We learn that she wants to leave the camp but it is never fully explained why that is. She admits to Steve that it's not him but something personal. But should we take her word for it? Especially after the way she looks at him when he has convinced her to stay on for another week. None of these characters have deep or meaningful conversations with each other. They are in the middle of nowhere with very little to do. Am I supposed to believe that all they care for is superficiality and sex? On top of that there was very little to no build-up to the murder scenes. Some murders just happen and none of them are scary. They are gory for sure but not to the point that you get shocked by them. However some of them are filmed in a way that make them interesting and therefore slightly effective. 

Then the ending. Yes, the ending is quite remarkable since it contains two WTF moments. No explanations are given but who cares? They were awesome! Enough for the film to redeem itself? Not this part. It did in part 2 though. But more on that in the review for Friday the 13th Part 2. 

The original Friday the 13th might have started it all. But it will be very disappointing for the ones who are craving that special horror goodness. You would think that the first would be the best in the entire franchise. This is not the case. 




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