Friday the 13th Review

Friday the 13th is a 1980 slasher film directed by Sean S. Cunningham, starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Kevin Bacon, and Laurie Bartram. The film is the first installment in the Friday the 13th film series and follows a group of teenagers who are murdered one by one while attempting to re-open an abandoned campground.


Positives:

  • Great suspense
  • Movie is well shot
  • Great score

Negatives:

  • Lackluster characters
  • Lackluster cast
  • Flat story
  • Poorly written script

Plot: The story goes at a really good pace gradually revealing more about the setting of the film, though there isn’t much compelling to it. The story does little to support any reason for the characters to be at the camp. During the climax of the film there is a pretty cool twist with the reveal of the killer but the film does little to actually support, instead setting something up completely from left field. (1 out of 5)

Characters:  The characters for the most part are the worst, cardboard characters you could probably watch and unfortunately have spawned numerous clones in sequel films.  Really, there aren’t any interesting characters worth giving a damn about until the end where Alice is the sole survivor.  The characters are likable although a bit too goofy at time. Almost all of the characters lack any kind of presence, so there is nothing compelling to them.  Alice (King) is a likable character and probably the most pronounced of the main cast. It would’ve been nice to actually have Ms. Vorhees be in the damn movie, but you don’t see her to the end.  Sure, she’s killing people due to the “death” of her child, Jason, but you don’t see any kind of suffering or characters of her so caring about her is off the table too.  (1 out of 5)

Cast: Decent performances by the main cast which include Adrienne King, Harry Crosby, Laurie Bartram, Mark Nelson, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, and Kevin Bacon.  Betsy Palmer is the only standout character and she kills as Ms. Vorhees, definitely had that crazed look. (2 out of 5)

Visuals: Good use of practical effects. The kill scenes aren’t overly gory but manage an effective look. Good use of the camera angles and the way the film is shot. The score is great and definitely helps with the suspense and dark tone. (4 out of 5)

Score:  The soundtrack is probably the most powerful aspect of the movie.  It does a great job of making sequences more intense and suspenseful.  However, there are moments where it can be a bit much.  Thumbs up to Harry Manfredini for creating such a legendary masterpiece. (5 out of 5)

Writing:  Much of the writing works for me but there is much that is hit-and-miss. Sean s. Cunningham does a great job with the direction and definitely knows how to give the movie presence.  The film does a good job of building and maintaining suspense, unfortunately the characters aren’t aware of any of the events other than the character Alice at the end of the film. (3 out of 5)


The Verdict:  In the end, Friday the 13th is a great slasher film, though as a movie there could’ve been a wrinkles that could’ve been ironed out.  True, the characters and story lack any kind of depth.  But the film does make up with good thrilling moments, great special effects, and suspenseful music.  Friday the 13th gets 3 out of 5.

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