The 13th Friday (2017)
THE 13TH FRIDAY
WRITER: Justin Price
DIRECTOR: Justin Price
STARRING: Lisa May as Allison
Deanna Grace Congo as Erin
Jose Zuniga as Joshua
Antonio Villareal as Brian
Melissa L. Vega as Ryn
Victoria Valdez as Stephanie
Joseph Daniel "J.D." Ellis as Kenny
Khu as Paige
QUICK CUT: A group of people find a device that opens a portal to Hell, and upon not finding any cut rate Cenobites, decide to sacrifice people to it all on their own.
Look, everyone is weirdly inhuman, and somewhere between dull surprise and passionately disinterested. There are so many characters, with only glancing blows at character traits and a passing familiarity with personality. I can't be arsed to try and come up with traits for them now beyond that. But I will give you this:
Allison - The one member of the group who has remorse over what they're doing, and is trying to assuage her guilt. This gives her an actual arc and character, beyond everyone else trying to kill people.
Paige - Allison's roommate? Friend? Lover? She's a reporter, and following close behind Allison trying to figure out what's up with what's up. Beyond these two, there's not really much more you need to know.
TRISK ANALYSIS: Welcome back, Triskelions! It is Friday the 13th, and normally I save this franchise for the first of the year, but I decided to do something special, and take a look at another movie with my namesake, Mister Voorhwha? Wait, what? This isn't a Friday the 13th movie? This is The 13th Friday?! What the heck?? Okay, okay fine, whatever, let's get into this...
Now, some background. I actually first discovered this movie while digging around streaming sites doing research for The Blood Stream (My podcast you should totally check out!) and it was SO intriguingly terrible that I had to actually go the extra mile, buy the DVD, and upgrade it for a full Trisking. And here we are. It's trying to cash in on the Friday name, and the trailer looked like people in a haunted house so going for THAT sort of horror movie? But then they find a device that looks cribbed from Hellraiser. What is this mess of a melange of ideas? PICK ONE. Ahem. Let's get to the actual movie.
The movie opens up with some text telling us that there's a house in Texas, called the House of the Rising S...no no that's in Louisiana, that was so haunted, that a church was built on the property, and the family was never found. Which all feels weirdly phrased to me. Anyone else?
But in case that didn't drive the point home of how creeeepy this is, we get some opening narration that is so poorly read from a script.
We then cut to a girl tied up, and dressed in old timey clothes, as is her mother, and so clearly this is in the past. But the kid has braces? So when is this? Is this just one of those production things we're supposed to shrug off and accept, because NO.
The girl begs for her life, as mom pours wat...gasoline on her child, and lights her up, saying she belongs to Him now.
Mom's reaction to torching her own kid is little more than a shrug. This isn't even the 'dull surprise' of many a running gag. This is 'passionate disinterest'.
From there, we jump to the present, I presume, and we meet a bunch of people wandering around a fire, near a house which I presume is The House.
And holy shit, the acting. The writing. Something here is badly done, possibly all of it. No one is quite talking in a normal cadence, and MORE passionate disinterest as they put zero emotion into their lines while talking amongst themselves.
I have to ask, are these people human? Do they understand how humans talk? Are these people aliens trying their best to emulate human speech patterns?? Are we even in America? Everyone has an accent that sounds like they fell out of Whurwilf.
Every character is just so flat and dull, and there's so many of them, I can barely keep them straight outside of "the redhead" or "the goth" or "the dude with the beard".
Finally someone decides to give MORE exposition because this movie is gonna talk us all to death. One of the group steps up on the porch to tell us MORE about the house, intercut with a woman we just saw storming away from her girlfriend, going inside the house without somehow being noticed.
Oh and the movie tries to be creeeepy by having a shadowy figure walk through a doorway in the background...BUT BACKWARDS. The girl is painted entirely black, and the effect ALMOST works, but it's too well lit, so she's like, shiny. Also, yikes, blackface.
But back outside, we're still being told how the woman became pregnant, and there was a church built on the property, with a tunnel to the church, and you know what? We never see this church, or tunnel, or any of that, so screw it, moving on.
And as the girl wanders around inside the house, we get creepy dolls wandering around, AND ghostly rocking chairs. We are just hit ALL the tropes, aren't we?
While she lays on the bed, the girl finds a puzzle box...er, puzzle ball and...okay, look. Is this trying to ape Friday, or is it a haunted house movie, or are we now doing Hellraiser? I'm not even ten minutes into this thing, and damnit PICK ONE.
Seriously though. How bad must your Hellraiser wannabe movie be for THAT franchise, well known for acquiring garbage scripts that have NOTHING to do with Hellraiser and slapping Pinhead into it to make INTO a Hellraiser movie no matter how awkward and out of place that may be, to NOT pick up a movie that is SO CLEARLY A HELLRAISER MOVIE??
Also, this is all happening silently as she wanders the house, but then we cut outside here and there with more narration.
DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO DO THIS?? You can layer over the exposition and the inside of the house, instead of taking ALL THIS TIME to sit around and talk in one half, and inside the house have a woman walking silently. Have the dry exposition going over the silence, so two scenes where nothing is happening, add up to SOMETHING. It's called EDITING, people!!
ANYways, the girl in the house opens the puzzle ball, a counter inside flicks from 13 to zero, poofs out some CGI, and the girl convulses, spews baking soda, and floats in the air. Check, check, and check.
The apparent people outside hear the girl scream, and go rushing in, and don't do much of anything while ghostly sheets choke the life out of her.
As they stand there, the little blackface girl crawls out from under the bed, and this time ALMOST works, because they let her be in shadows.
The dead woman tells them her death is only the beginning, and they must now sacrifice one soul a month to the orb, or their own will be forfeit. Oh BULLSHIT. These people did nothing, and just happened to walk into a house they were near. It turns out later that some of them knew the legends, but still.
We get a quick murder montage as they start sacrificing to the orb, and while we only get to see two deaths, it is implied they did much more, via "Missing" posters, and the fact they say only one more is required when next we join our losers.
Suddenly we're with a girl, in a cave, being gawked at by inhuman mummy creatures, and what, no, come ON. Now it's the Descent? PICK. ONE. Oh, and also. The creatures never DO anything, nor are they explained, so why.
Naturally, the girl is passionately disinterested by all of this, as she tries to find her way out of the cave. There are also figures in cloaks, which I presume are our band of murderers who somehow took the time to take this seriously enough to invest in CLOAKS AND MASKS, keep calling her Christina. Is she one of the group? Am I supposed to recognise her? Because I don't. Or do they just know her name?
But the girl gets caught, they choke her out, and watch the ball tick away, so whatever. Allison wakes up the next day, and goes through all her murder clippings, tries calling Christina's family, and oh yay, she gets to feel guilty for everything.
Allison meets with her roomie? Girlfriend? A reporter friend? It's not clear exactly their relationship. And as a COMPLETE aside, Allison is eating a plate that is just two limp chicken wings and some greens. I am offended at this plate of food trying to be a meal.
She wakes up in the middle of the night, seeing a stranger banging their head against the wall, and same. Same, strange person.
Which leads to oh good, more little miss blackface jumpscares and it was all just a dream.
But Allison's guilt is getting to her, so she starts visiting the families to try and get closure, and give them closure, and SHE GIVES HER NAME. Also, her 'guilt' is more dull passionate disinterest.
And because this movie can't be arsed, the lighting is so different between Allison and the father of one of her victims, that I am dubious of them being shot in the same place at the same time.
She leaves, and Josh surprises her at her car. And by 'surprise' I mean more passionate disinterest. He's been following her little trail of tears, and he tells her they just need to kill one more, and just hold on. And...and one more until what? That they'll be free, and won't have to kill anymore? WHAT is the reward here? Why are they bothering? WHAT IS THE POINT. Give us some sense of incentive?? I mean, yes, they get to live, but is that IT?
Allison heads home to collect the bocci ball of death, and her girlfriend roomie reporter is passionately disinterested that she is going off again to hang out with friends.
She arrives with one of the others to the house, and hands over the ball, and they talk about how 'his condition is worsening' and just add THAT to the list of things this movie doesn't explain. Is it because of the orb? Is THAT the consequence? But why? I just...give me something.
Allison wakes up in the cave, wandering around, and this movie sure does love jumping all over the place. And it sure does love just wandering while nothing happens.
The girl that comes to grab her tells Allison that they had to choose one of themselves to be the 13th, and they chose Allison.
ANYTIME YOU WANT TO TELL ME THE RULES HERE, MOVIE, THAT WOULD BE GREAT! Seriously, it just randomly drops things in, that they 'must' do with no good reason.
The girl that grabbed her, lets Allison go, and says she'll get the Calendar back, and the Calendar is THE least threteaning name for a cursed macguffin ever.
Our group of murderers is passionately disinterested in Allison getting away, and their own imminent demise if they can't find someone else to kill.
But the bad news is, they don't find anyone, their sacrifice escapes, so everyone's soul is forfeit, and I guess Allison doubly so. And now it's just a game of seeing who of the murderers gets murdered in what order of murdering.
So it all kicks off with Josh, who meets the little miss blackface girl, and is dragged off into the shadows.
Meanwhile, Reporter Rita is doing her research to find out more about the house, why Allison is acting weird, and ends up at a newspaper printing place, to talk to a reporter who did previous research into the house.
So buckle up folks, more exposition ahoy!
He brings religion into things, talking about the devil and his plan to rise up and take the throne of God, in the 13th month and OH NOOOOO IT'S 13/13/13 ALL OVER AGAIN!!
I will say this though, this movie does a better job of explaining and using the concept of a "thirteenth month" better than that other movie. It's an intriguing idea, and an expansion of a 'witching hour' type idea.
And suddenly we're with a girl in a pool, being stared at by a little kid, and I have no idea who these people are or why I should care about them or the creepy music. Again, this is revisited briefly, but never explained who these people are.
Following Josh's funeral, two of the girls chat about it, and Erin is really weirded out, especially when the other girl starts spewing flies, and tells her she's going to die.
Also, this movie KEEPS MOOING AT ME. Why are the cows after them??
Erin and Allison meet over lunch to try and calm her down, and Allison asks about why she was the one chosen to die. No real reason was given, but it was unanimous. Wow, nice friends.
The movie makes me twitch as Little Miss Blackface shows back up, in BROAD DAYLIGHT looking horrible, but also a very high pitched noise that cuts through my ears and brain.
Erin runs off, stands in the street, and you NEVER stand in the road in a horror movie, when people are threatening you!!
Oh, and there's also a bombshell dropped with passionate disinterest that Terry was the last one to complete the calendar (WAIT SOMEONE DID THIS BEFORE?? What did he get out of it? WHY DO THEY DO THIS????) and he chose the cave, and he's responsible for everything.
And then we jump to two of the other kids, talking with Terry who is a drug dealer and waving a gun around while he tries to explain things. Oooh, okay. I missed that stuff the first time around, and was wondering why they were conversing with this drug dealer and why he knew so much.
He still doesn't seem trustworthy, but hey, the plot makes a bit more sense now. But still not really, because he tells the two that there is 'still time' and gives them a key that unlocks 'something in that house' so yeah.
The reporter dude who did the old story is back on the beat, trying to investigate the firebug mom and her cripsy kid, but Little Miss Blackface shows up to drag him into the ground.
One of the other murderers goes wandering through her house later, and finds her dad dead, surrounded by CGI butterflies. She instantly sees Little Miss Blackface, and a loud jumpscare spooks her right down the stairs.
I presume she broke her back from the way she just lays there, and it's not surprising. But that's not enough for the girl, as she crawls down the stairs, TRYING to do a creepy crawly down them, and making it the lamest one I've ever seen.
The crawler disappears and again the movie does a loud noise as...THE GIRL IS GRABBED FROM THE SIDE INSTEAD! Gasp, surprise, horror.
Reporter Rita goes investigating somewhere, and I guess it's Kenny's place, as she finds his security badge, and I don't know what she's doing there, or what she's finding, or what this has to do with anything, and when all the fans in the room turn on, she bolts. So that entire scene accomplished...WHAT??
Allison wanders back in and pays a visit to Terry, trying to get answers, and he says he just told them they had to pick one of their own, not her specifically. Why? Why is this a rule? WHAT ARE THE...asdfghjkl fuck it.
She asks what it means to 'complete the Calendar' and duh, that's pretty clear, kill one more person and complete the cycle. This movie makes no sense but THAT is clear enough. But he says the sphere is a calendar, and it opens the gates to Hell. And wait, if he completed this once already, why are we not all burn...no, fuck it.
Reporter Rita goes to the hospital where Kenny works security, and shows up just in time for Little Miss Blackface to fling him off the roof.
Brian and Ryn head back to the house, because that's not the LAST place I would go when all my friends are dying, even if I do have a key that will unlock 'something'.
And what that 'something' turns out to be, is a bit of plating OBVIOUSLY set over a fireplace, and I have to wonder why no one found it before?
Inside is a small charred skeleton of Eve, wrapped up in a REMARKABLY clean blanket in great shape. Must be from the same place as the white cat in excellent health from the Crow.
The movie moos at them, and I presume that means they're dead, because that's what happens when people here The Moo.
Suddenly, we're back with Terry, because that needed tying up, who is hearing the Moo, or just paranoid from all the coke he's done, and shoots himself in the head.
Allison now shows up at the house, sees something in the mirror that isn't there in reality, coming closer every time she looks, until it IS right in front of her.
The spectral figure is standing there with an uncharred Eve, leads her off, and ALLISON FOLLOWS. No, no no no, nope, get out.
She heads upstairs to where this all began, and Eve is playing with the Calendar. She warns Allison not so say her name, she doesn't like it when someone says her name. WHY. WHY IS THIS NOW A THING. There is five minutes left, this is not the time to bring in new threats, or renewed threats, and new rules!!
Eve warns that 'she's right there' and we watch a figure rush up and cut away before we see what happens, but I presume another death, because the movie crashes to an ending almost immediately.
The last thing we get is Reporter Rita showing up, finding the orb, and I guess the cycle starts all over again.
Video: This movie came out last year, if it looked terrible, it should be ashamed of itself. At least visually it's great.
Audio: It's got a great mix too, and it at least uses the atmospheric mooing cries very well.
Body Count: For all my bitching, I will not complain about the sheer amount of death and destruction it delivers.
1 - Girl set on fire
2 - Girl in house gets choked by ghost sheets
3 - Goth chick gets her face grabbed from her phone, I guess.
4 - We see a girl get drowned
5 - A guy get choked in his car.
6 - Christina gets choked in the cave
7 - Joshua gets dragged into the shadows and killed.
8 - Erin gets run over.
9 - Reporter guy gets sucked into the ground.
10 - Girl's dad killed by CGI butterflies.
11 - Then girl gets shoved down stairs and dragged off.
12 - Kenny gets flung off the roof.
13 - Ryn probably dies off camera
14 - Brian joins her
15 - Alison too, I suppose.
Best Corpse: A minor nudge for Erin getting run over.
Blood Type - F: There's very little blood, and the effects are pretty meh.
Sex Appeal: Zip.
Drink Up! whenever Little Miss Blackface appears.
Movie Review: I want to like this movie, I REALLY REALLY do, I am not kidding. But it is a MESS. This is that rare sort of movie that is *frustratingly* bad. There is a GENUINELY good idea here. I love the concept of a group of people needing to sacrifice people for an ancient pact and trying to release the devil, or something. But the movie spends too much time on the setup, which it then never properly sets up the rules or universe or mythology, and no time on their actual MurderQuest, until the very end. And then since they failed, the murderers get picked off. The plot is all out of whack. I said plenty about the strange, not quite right acting. But it started with a solid idea, and then proceeded to present it in the worst way possible, without bringing us into the world at all, and just, argh. At the very least, it's well MADE, directed and shot well, and I have few complaints there. I'd make different structural and editorial choices, but not THAT many. Most notably overlapping the opening with the voiceover and exploring the house. Two out of five Calendar Balls.
Entertainment Value: Look, you know by now this is not a great movie, and it is a nightmare. But I've watched it several times, I'll probably watch it several more, and I've even shared it with friends. It's so baffling, so incoherent, and the performances are so fun to watch. If even a little more made sense, I would love this movie for its badness, instead of being frustrated endlessly and getting angry at how close it comes to working at times. As it is, instead I am fascinated by the mess of it all, and still give it a three out of five plates of worms.