Reflections on a SUPERNATURAL Silver-Screen Showdown

supernatural_movie_postersBy: CT

As we anxiously await armageddon — aka the season premiere of SUPERNATURAL, airing at 9 p.m. E.T. on Thursday, September 10th — we thought this might be the perfect time to look back on the horror flicks Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki (aka those winsome Winchester boys) released earlier this year and decide whose manager deserves a raise… and whose should be demon bait!

Let’s say right up front that we thought it was an odd choice for both of the guys to make films in the horror genre during their respective breaks. Yes, sticking to what you know — not to mention what made you famous — is a no-brainer, but let’s not forget that it’s also the path that led Sarah Michelle Gellar to such crapfests as The Return and flicks. Trust us, guys: Next time, stretch your wings a little. Trust that your fans will follow.

In any case, both guys made not only horror flicks, but remakes of classic ones — Friday the 13th for Jared, My Bloody Valentine for Jensen — at that. And yes, some of us who grew up on the originals think of the original Valentine — shot on a shoestring budget back in 1981 — a classic. But the similarities between the projects they picked pretty much ends there.

Padalecki’s journey to the infamous Crystal Lake is pretty much a straight-forward retelling of the original. (Although because this version of Friday begins with the beheading of Mrs. Voorhees that ended the original, it’s actually more like a remake of the second flick in the original series.) Our SUPERNATURAL boy plays Clay, who is looking for his missing sis. The search takes him to the woods surrounding the infamous campground which happens to serve as our killer’s hangout. This version tries offering up at least a bit of a plot revolving around Jason’s connection to one of the would-be victims, but that’s about as far as the originality goes. Just like in the original, sex and other pleasures guarantee a swift death. Even the final “shock” will fail to surprise anyone familiar with Jason’s past work. There’s not much room for character development, so Padalecki’s puppy dog eyes go a long way in letting us know he’s our hero… as does the fact that Clay is one of the few people in the flick you don’t beg Jason to murder. The sad thing is that there are one or two moments when the movie seems to be laying the groundwork for a much more interesting story — indicating that the townsfolk know perfectly well what’s going on and turn a blind eye — that is never developed.

Ackles’ flick is a much-less-literal translation of the original work. Valentine begins with a sequence so exhilarating that one almost feels as if they walked into the middle of the story. But when things slow down — and flash-forward — about 10 minutes in, viewers are in for a surprise: Damn if this slasher pic doesn’t have some depth to it thanks to an unexpectedly emotional triangle that unfolds between Ackles’ Tom, Kerr Smith’s Axel and Jaime King’s Sarah. Unlike Friday, in which the audience knows from the beginning who’s wielding the deadly arsenal of weapons, Valentine keeps the identity of its killer under wraps… or rather, hidden behind a frightning mask worn by the coal miners who populate the town of Harmony. Of course, seeing as the masked man has a way with a pick-axe, there’s plenty of blood (a great extra on the DVD shows how some of the best effects were pulled off) for those who are there for nothin’ but the spillage. But this is the rare flick that manages to rise above the limits of the slasher genre to prove that story and gory need not be mutually exclusive terms.

In the end, we’ve got to declare Ackles the clear winner in the SUPERNATURAL Showcase Showdown.

  • Thanks. I enjoy a good horror flick and I’ll put Valentine on my Netflix queue.

  • hermit

    Thanks for the great article. I bought MBV DVD and yup, I think for a slasher, it’s a pretty good flick.

  • Cassie

    I completely agree with you that MBV:3D truly did rise above the usual limits of the slasher genre. It actually had an amazing undercurrent of depth and realism, plus Ackles was pretty much brilliant in the ‘twist’ at the end.

    As for the F13 remake…I couldn’t even watch it without laughing out loud at some of the atrocious acting skills of the fellow actors that Padalecki had to work with.

    As for what genre of movies that I think Ackles and Padalecki should try next….I think Ackles would shine in an old school western and that Padalecki needs to try his hand at a romantic-comedy.

  • ewanspotter

    Bloody Valentine was really cheesy, but the 3D made it worth it. 10 movies down the line the 3D will be boring, but for now it was a novelty.

  • Asia

    They don’t have much time to properly choose the movies they like to do and it’s a wonder they managed to complite filming in that short period of time they had at summer.
    But ITA MBV was a lot better and smarter than F13 which was boring fest with atrocious acting.

  • ct

    ewan: That shows how decent MBV was: I saw it on DVD without the 3-D effects and still thought it was pretty good.

    Asia: It doesn’t take a whole lotta time to read a script anlike Friday the 13th and say, “Oh, man, that’s a pile of crap.” Also, I’d be VERY surprised if the guys don’t have “people” who do that for them. That’s what a manager is for! (And not for nothing, but it’s smarter to take your time and wait for the right project than o just make a movie for the sake of making a movie and having it be a loser!)

  • Definitely agree that MBV is the better movie all around.

    It didn’t have the same splashy opening weekend numbers as F13 or even a fraction of the promotion, but it definitely proved that it has staying power.

    If you check the box office data sites you’ll see that MBV continues to thrive in foreign markets (it’s pushing a $100 mil worldwide) and did extremely well in DVD sales.

    Now I have no idea if the main draw was the 3D technology or Ackles’ extremely “devoted” fanbase. I suspect it’s a mix of both.

    Great article by the way.

  • Asia

    ct: I agree. I think it was a big name of franchise that attract Jared’s manager’s attention. They aimed in fame not a quality and that was their mistake. As for waiting i think they assumed that S4 will be the last and it seemed like a right time to let your name be recognized to choose another project. Considering that all F13 movies aren’t Oscar material in scripts I think they hoped for the movie to gross big. Didn’t happen.

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  • Sonia

    MBV was by far the better movie – glad to see it do so well after Jensen’s last movie 10 Inch Hero was never promoted. If you can track that one down it is worth a look – he certainly broke type on that one.