‘Friday the 13th’ dispels superstition

Friday the 13. A day of bad luck and superstitions and the name of a film that has had an undeniably large impact on pop culture. The belief in these superstitions is, surprisingly, challenged in the movie “Friday the 13th” but is not followed up on in the sequels.

When most people think of “Friday the 13th” they think of a tall figure wearing a hockey mask named Jason Vorhees, first played by Ari Lehman and later by several actors. This figure head of the series is a marauding, undead killer that haunts the camp that most of the series takes place in. In the original movie it is revealed at the end that the killer is Jason’s mother, who is played by Betsy Palmer, and not Jason himself. The only meaningful mention of Jason is at this moment when she reveals that she is seeking revenge for her son’s death. An average woman, not a supernatural being, is the killer.

Comparing the two characters, Jason and his mother, reveals an important aspect that the sequels missed. Jason’s mother is a more complete and interesting character than her son is. She is a mother who is protecting the memory of her son in way that makes a twisted amount of sense to her. That concept is arguably more interesting than the lumbering thing that the sequels used in her place. The reveal that she was the killer is a twist ending than few, including myself, would have guessed having watched other horror films.

The horror of the film is centered on very horrific killings that were mundane in their nature. Only in one scene is there even a hint of a supernatural element. The last survivor is “dragged” into the lake by a zombie like creature that is suggested to be Jason. But that character wakes up shortly after in the hospital with no sign of the creature, making it very probable that the whole scene happened in her head. An extension of the stress and trauma of being hunted by a psychopathic killer.

“Friday the 13th” plays on the viewer’s expectation for things to be supernatural and strange but in the end everything is normal. They play on the fears surrounding the day only to show that we humans are the creatures hunting the campers, not some monster. “Friday the 13th” dispels the mysticism of Friday the 13.But the barrage of sequels that followed missed this point and lost the complexity of this initial set up as a result. The series of “Friday the 13th” could have grown but instead shrunk into a standard horror movie. If you watch any of the “Friday the 13th” films, watch the original movie for its significance and well done directing.