31 Days of Wicked Watching [DAY 3]: This One Time at Death Camp

Arguably, I certainly could have and should have watched this movie yesterday since it was a Friday. As a benefit, I’m out of the woods when it comes to this month not having a 13th on a Friday, and thus no one can argue that cliche viewing (although I’m usually here for that and probably would have done it) needed to exist. Today’s movie, “Friday the 13th,” is an adventure that many never see coming.

What many people who have never seen this film don’t realize is that it inherently is a mystery. Unlike the hockey-mask wielding sequels (which the iconic mask actually doesn’t even enter the realm of the franchise until the third film), this first film utilizes editing and music, much like a Hitchcock film, to frame an aura of mystery and questioning. Yes, the same tropes that “Scream” explicated exist: teens, drugs, drinking, sex and murder. What is different from later slasher works, and very much like its predecessor in John Carpenter’s “Halloween” (spoiler: it is my 31st film; it is always my 31st film) is the consistent sentiment that the viewer is left in the dark about who and what is lurking.

Beyond the mystery, what always made this film scary to me is that it relies on an environment that many of us can connect with: summer camp. When school was out it meant a summer with our friends, and, for many of us, this lead to some time at camp. The making of arts and crafts, swimming in the lake and telling ghost stories were some of the most important pieces of my summer experience. Being in cabins in the woods seemed like a right of passage. Sean Cunningham’s “Friday the 13th” preys on that right of passage.

For me, today is a cozy and cold day, and that means apple cinnamon tea, a blanket and Mrs. Voorhees. Join me.

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