A spooky experiment: ‘Friday the 13th’


Zach Lewis

I decided, for science, to undertake a spooky experiment. I watched “Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th. There was a harvest moon and I had drunk a pumpkin spice latte because I’m an adult and I can make those types of adult decisions for myself. I was terrified that this event could cause a possible singularity. Anything was bound to occur from watching this movie on this date. Would I die? Could this be a Pop Rocks and Coke situation? I’ll end the suspense though… I’m still alive! Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t a scientific enough experiment. I wasn’t at a camp and it wasn’t 1980. I don’t know if all the variables were met. Perhaps the fact that the drinking age was 18 in 1980 had something to do with the disastrous consequences. It’s hard to tell when you’re almost four-decade-evening quarterbacking a fictional event, but it’s best to leave no stone unturned. All the lights were off in the room too. 

For those not in the know, “Friday the 13th is a pretty OG horror movie. It’s one of the original slasher flicks. “Halloween,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis, had only been released two years before. It was directed by Sean Cunningham and written by Victor Miller. Victor Miller has also won awards for writing soap operas. A fact which should make you re-think day-time drama. 

The film takes place at Camp Crystal Lake 20 years after a pair of teenagers setting up the camp were brutally murdered. Not that the brutality makes the murders any worse, but it doesn’t make it better. Anyways, a collection of teenagers is setting up the camp at this future, now past, date when the murders suddenly start happening again. There’s a very good possibility that the murders are connected but what could be connecting these events? This becomes apparent when you discover the identity of the killer. This is a character the audience doesn’t physically see until the end of the movie. You do get to experience the “Friday the 13th” with the murderer even if you don’t physically see them.  

The film incorporates an interesting technique to make this possible. Various parts of the film are shown through the killer’s point of view. Sometimes it’s through the bushes while the soon-to-be camp counselor murder victims (or survivors) watched from behind trees. Sometimes it’s through an interaction with a soon-to-be victim. Sometimes it’s in a Jeep. This technique creates a sinister and creepy vibe that slithers throughout the entire film. 

One of the counselors being surveilled is the easily recognizable Kevin Bacon. He’s famous for being separated by six degrees to everyone on the planet, being in the movie “Footloose” and losing his life’s savings in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Suffice to say that he actually is a good actor. The other actors’ names aren’t particularly important. I’ll wait, though, if you feel the need to look them up. Go ahead… I don’t mind. 

Are you back? Good. Anyways, where was I? Oh yeah, the acting. The acting is good, and the dialogue is believable, and this leads to probably the most intriguing aspect about the movie. It’s good! It’s suspenseful, scary and it’s shot well. There was definitely a budget. I do not believe the same can be said about the ninth installment of the Friday the 13th franchise, “Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday.” Especially since there are two movies after that supposed final Friday.  

Anyways, “Friday the 13th” is not an art house film but it’s worth taking the time to watch. There’s a gradual building of suspense that’s expertly done. The teens are warned various times in the film by various authority figures to no avail as well. One component that lends a timelessness to this movie is that it takes place at a camp in the middle of the woods. The absence of smart phones and the internet do not take away from the story like it would if the movie took place in the city or suburbia. 

The first installment has an extremely interesting twist that I was not aware of happening either. I won’t spoil that here so don’t worry. I wouldn’t go to the Wikipedia page or it’ll be spoiled in the first sentence of the overview section. I will let you know that there’s archery, a thunderstorm and a game of strip Monopoly. There’s an intertwining of sex and death but the balance is heavily tilted toward the death side of that equation. When will teenagers ever learn? 

There’s another Friday the 13th in December so you can recreate the experience for yourself if you’re scientifically minded like myself. It may not be as spooky as one in the fall, but last week technically wasn’t the fall either, so it’ll be just as scary. I’ll need to order a peppermint mocha instead of the pumpkin spice latte but hopefully that won’t change anything. I need to check my calculations.