They say that there’s nothing worse than a woman scorned, but I guarantee that the people who say that have never experienced a mother enraged. Contrary to what those fixated with the male gaze would have us believe, being betrayed or rejected is not the worst possible pain that most women can imagine; losing a child is. That loss, and the subsequent enduring rage it created, is the cornerstone of Friday the 13th.
Once upon a time, some highly negligent young camp counselors were too busy trying to get laid to realize that the awkward kid with no friends was drowning, so drown he did, with his body never being recovered from the large Crystal Lake, and his momma lost her entire mind over. No, seriously: the psychotic break of Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) rests at the center of this film. Being the mom of the kid who is bullied or teased for being different is hard enough. When you know that your child’s 100% deal with due to the fact that even other adults couldn’t do right by him, it can make a person a little… upset.
Mrs. Voorhees’ son, Jason, drowned in 1957 at Camp Crystal Lake, and when two camp counselors are murdered the following year, the camp is shut down. But this isn’t enough to placate the grieving mother, and Jason’s mom, determined that the camp remain unoccupied, takes things up a notch and goes on a murder-spree against the new camp counselors when Camp Crystal re-opens a couple decades later. Though well meaning and seemingly far more responsible than those who failed to properly supervise Jason, these new counselors trigger Mrs. Voorhees’ rage. Worse than that, a couple have the audacity to be fucking on the job, which is exactly the sort of sinful behaviour that Mrs. Voorhees is not here for, forcing her to kill them in wildly imaginative ways. Welp.
When most people think of Friday the 13th, they think of Jason in the hockey mask, and while Mrs. Voorhees’ supernaturally reanimated sociopath of a son is the primary murderer in the rest of the franchise, it’s Jason’s mom, her years of pent-up pain, and incredible skill as a killer which started it all. Deliciously addictive and gory, Friday the 13th is arguable the best slasher horror flick and one of less than a handful featuring an antagonist who is both female and older. It’s precisely Mrs. Voorhees’ gender and age which make her the person her victims least suspect, and therefore thoroughly efficient. But this older woman isn’t interested in playing Bingo and the full breadth of Mrs. Voorhees’ undying vendetta against camp counselors is simply unforgettable.
I give this one 4.25 stars.