False alarm jump scares are pretty much par for the course with slasher movies. I’m not a huge fan but, when done effectively, they can keep an audience on its toes. There seems to be quite a finite number of harmless things that can make slasher movie characters jump out of their skin though.
Clichéd as it may be, my favorite of these is probably the irate cat leaping into frame. Maybe it’s because cats are more difficult to control on set, but there doesn’t seem to be much else of a role for cats in this type of film. I know I can’t coerce my cat to do very much. It makes sense that the only reliable thing they can do is get pitched into the frame by a crew member presumably wearing really thick gloves.
This is such a common occurrence in horror that the TV show Community even did a bit about it in one of their parodies.
They nailed it so well that this topic has been sitting in my “to do” pile for about 2 years. Far be it from me to let my favorite show steal my thunder though. I’ve been laughing about today’s moment for years before Community even came on the air. Sorry Dan, I’m taking this one back.
I’ve read enough complaints about Friday 5’s liberal use of tired horror clichés, and there’s no real denying it. There’s no obnoxious self awareness though. In fact, that’s where I see the brilliance of Friday 5 – I can’t tell if they were serious trying to make a scary movie or not, and that’s the way I like it. Whether anyone meant to or not, this movie elevated worn out tropes to an art form.
That brings me to the cat that scares Lana in the diner. This scene features the most gloriously blatant disregard for the safety of an animal this side of Italian cannibal movies. This is not the first time a cat made such an appearance in the series. In Part 2, one appears to bound off of a trampoline into Alice’s window. While that shot does get some points for the cat shrieking like someone stepped on its tail, the cat obviously made it through the the filming process unharmed. Not so here. I’m not sure if they were trying to get the cat to land on the bench, but, from what I can tell, the cat was bounced off of a seat by a crew member.
Look at the animal above and tell me if it looks like he has any control over his flight. Is someone chasing him with a cucumber? It also begs the question, do cats land on their feet even if throw them really hard? It kind of looks like they do.
There are so many things to love about Friday 5 that it’s easy to over look the reckless feline endangerment in favor of the more overt craziness. Just take a minute though, and try to appreciate what this must have looked like on set. How many takes did it take to get this right? The lack of of any behind the scenes documentation of this can be described as nothing but a complete shame.