There’s something special about the Friday the 13th series. A lot of us cut our teeth on the franchise back in the 80’s. I think I fell in love with the movies before I ever watched them. Staring at the VHS covers on the shelf of my neighborhood video store had me hooked before I was old enough to convince my mom to let me rent one. I eventually wore her down and my sisters were told to bring home a Friday the 13th movie for me to watch that Friday night. They randomly grabbed the third film and brought it back to an ecstatic little brother. I’ve always been glad that part 3 was my introduction to the franchise. It’s a super fun entry in the series and it introduced Jason’s trademark hockey mask. From that night on, I was a devout Jason disciple. I quickly got caught up with everything Voorhees. Seeing a trailer for a new Friday the 13th was like Christmas morning and Halloween night wrapped in one. Sure, some are better than others… but I can honestly say I thoroughly enjoy every entry in the series. I know there are purists who hate the “zombie Jason” movies and stop watching after The Final Chapter. There are those who felt cheated by A New Beginning and hate that movie. Almost everyone seems to hate Jason Goes to Hell (and I get it but I still love it). Perhaps there are newer fans who only know Jason from the 2009 reboot. I like different things about each of them, but I think it’s the basic formula of F13 movies that keeps me coming back. It’s what made the 2009 film a winner in my eyes… they didn’t try to reinvent the wheel. This brings us to the new F13 currently in development, Friday the 13th Part 13!!
Obviously there is some pressure from fans to get this one right. The 13th Friday has to be the ultimate F13! The initial plans to make a sequel to the 2009 reboot were dropped long ago, despite many fans clamoring for the rumored “Jason in the snow” follow up. Since then, there has been no shortage of rumors and release dates popping up online. One of these rumors suggested the new film would be found footage. Many fans reacted with eye rolls and pleas to not go that route with their beloved Jason (myself included). I’m not one of those fans who hates all found footage movies… quite the contrary. I’ve enjoyed many of them and have quite a few found footage titles in my collection. I just don’t want to see a F13 film go that route and most horror fans seem to have reached a saturation point with the gimmick. The last thing we need is for the next Friday to tank at the box office. The 2009 reboot broke records and it’s still taking 7+ years to get a new group of kids to return to Crystal Lake. Thankfully, the found footage approach has been scrapped. David Bruckner (director of “Amateur Night” for V/H/S) was attached during that point to direct. Bruckner left the project in late 2015 but has since come out about his vision for the 13th installment in the series. He envisioned it as a coming-of-age monster movie in the spirit of Dazed and Confused. The film was to be set in the 80’s and was even going to open with the old school Paramount logo! They brought in Nick Antosca (co-producer from Hannibal) to do a rewrite abandoning the found footage approach but in the end nothing came from it. A F13 movie set in the 80’s with likable characters? Sign me up! It’s unfortunate that we will never get to see Bruckner’s vision come to life.
This brings us back to the drawing board. Paramount has pushed the release date back to January 13, 2017. They are starting from scratch with a new story. Aaron Guzikowski, who wrote 2007’s Prisoners and is writing Universal’s The Wolf Man reboot, will be starting fresh with a new script. Given that it’s almost March and we haven’t heard any news of a completed script, I would not be surprised to see the project get pushed back yet again. I think a lot of fans want what I want… a well made, old school F13. Likeable characters, practical effects, a fair amount of gore and a badass Jason. A script that doesn’t take itself too seriously and understands that a F13 movie should be fun. How about a functioning camp with counselors and campers? It’s only been done in Jason Lives and he doesn’t get to the camp until the third act. The presence of campers would really amp up the tension and give the counselors a whole new set of problems to deal with once Jason starts killing. Why not bring back Derek Mears and make a proper sequel to the 2009 reboot? The idea of seeing Crystal Lake during the winter is exciting and something we haven’t seen before. Mears had a great physical presence and his Jason was scary and intense. Better yet, let’s bring back some of the best final girls for the ultimate showdown. This idea is discussed in the excellent and must-watch documentary Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th. What better way to commemorate the 13th film in the franchise than to bring back some of the survivors for one last battle? While we’re at it, let’s have Kane Hodder himself put the hockey mask on one last time to take them on! Don’t get me wrong, I know this isn’t going to happen. It’s about money and what the Hollywood execs think the modern movie going audience wants to see. Keep it simple. A good F13 movie should be quick to write and cheap to make (relatively speaking), while being very profitable at the box office. Study the first 4 films and understand why they work so well. Don’t try to be clever or meta. Don’t give us another origin story. It’s really quite simple… The counselors weren’t paying any attention. They were making love while that young boy drowned. They need to be punished.