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
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.