Working The FRIDAY THE 13TH Matinee On Valentine’s Day

Despite its reputation as an art theater, the Varsity Theater in Chapel Hill, N.C. where I work part-time, has often shown big commercial movies. BATMAN BEGINS, WAR OF THE WORLDS, and even Will Farrell fare like TALLADEGA NIGHTS and SEMI-PRO have shown up on our screens among the indie and foreign films that usually dominate the roster. However it was still surprising that the owner decided to run the new FRIDAY THE 13TH remake alongside SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which has been pulling audiences in since late last year.

I worked a short shift this afternoon and it went something like this:

2:18 P.M. Both films are well underway. There are only 8 people in the theater to see FRIDAY THE 13TH as opposed to the 62 that are here to see SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Ouch! Of course our theater is not exactly representative of how well the film may actually be doing. It is playing at 2 multiplexes in the area and many who would go to a horror film wouldn’t usually go until after dark. After cleaning up a little I tell my co-workers I’m going to check out some of FRIDAY THE 13TH but I’ll probably be back really soon. I enter the theater…

2:36 P.M. I’m back in the lobby. When I walked in I saw one of the classic horror movie clichés – a group of teenagers sitting around a campfire telling scary stories. Well, only one story actually about a camp counselor named Jason whose mother infamously murdered many folks in these very woods back in the day. Within 5 minutes, a girl is topless and a geeky guy (Im not going to credit any of these actors – I seriously doubt any of them will come up again) is brutally killed while looking for weed in the woods. Mamas boy Jason is fiercely protective of the Crystal Lake marijuana crop, you understand? His first appearance to my eyes wasn’t scary or even startling and I left when he had the before mentioned topless girl tied up in a sleeping bag dangling from a rope above the now raging camp fire. I shrugged as I walked out wondering why more couples didn’t come to celebrate Valentine’s Day with Jason Voorhees.

2:51 P.M. For some reason I decide I can stomach some more so I go back in…

3:06 P.M. I caught a bit that takes place in daylight. More partying teenagers are living it up at Crystal Lake campgrounds. After making machete meat of some really rednecky guy (how rednecky? We see literally licking a page from Hustler magazine) in an old dusty antique filled attic, Jason finds a beat up hockey mask. He dons it, checks himself out in the mirror (presumably thinking “hmm, I like it!”) and I was in awe of this historic detail of his origin story – uh, that is if you replace ‘in awe’ with ‘in complete indifference’. From there we go to a topless water-skiing sequence that ends in tragedy. Don’t they all?

3:16 P.M. Okay, only because I’m bored I go in for what I hope is my final round with the FRIDAY THE 13TH, uh, well it’s not really a remake so is it a re-boot? A re-imagining? Whatever it is I go on in again…

3:48 P.M. Whew! I actually watched the entire last act! The kids were in some house with the power cut off and Jason was offing them one by one (he seems to particularly enjoy impaling young scantily clad bodies on whatever’s handy – axes, deer antlers, long spikes and hooks, etc.). I loved when they called the police, only one car showed with only one cop and it seemed like less than a minute before he was impaled on something (most be some unwritten rule of horror movies – only send one cop). It was all exactly what I expected. Not one surprise or moment of original invention especially not the so non thriller ending. But then it makes no claims to be anything but an onslaught of breasts and blood so what I’m I complaining about? Okay I’m complaining about how what I saw was bone dry boring and bad by even schlocky slasher movie standards.

4:54 P.M. My shift is over. As I leave the theater I ask how many tickets sold for the 4:20 FRIDAY THE 13TH. One ticket sold. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE sold roughly the same as its earlier show (about 60 something). Obviously there’s little love for the new Jason incarnation but at least I figured out that it’s not a remake, reboot, or re-imagining. It’s a rehash rip-off.

The rest of my Valentine’s day has got to be better than this.

More later…

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