friday the 13th reboot

There isn’t much going on behind Jason Voorhees’ hockey mask and that’s kind of the point. The most instantly recognizable villain in slasher movie history has endured because he’s so very simple – he was a disfigured kid who seemingly drowned before settling into a new existence as a woods-dwelling killer of camp counselors. Over the course of eleven films (ranging from terrific fun to truly unwatchable), Jason was the vehicle for schlocky scares and incredibly violent murders that often went for the funny bone instead of the jugular. He’s always been more of a mascot than a character and that’s been perfectly fine.

And yet, it certainly sounds like the next iteration of Friday the 13th, a new reboot of the series following the 2009 reboot of the series, will take a new stab at Jason’s origin story. I’m not here to pre-judge anything, but let’s just say that elaborating on the backstories of classic slasher villains has been nothing short of disastrous so far.

The Reel Word sat down with producer Brad Fuller to chat about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, but the subject eventually shifted to the other disfigured freak movie he has on his plate. Here’s the choice quote, where he talks about how screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski (whose previous credits include the fantastic Prisoners and the not-fantastic Contraband) is tackling the series:

Aaron’s story has great characters…You kind of have to understand Jason Voorhees, so we go back and we kind of started over and work our way forward. […] Origin-ish, but it’s an origin that no one has seen before. Obviously Pamela’s [Jason’s mother] there, but it’s a little bit different from what you’ve seen before.

Here’s where I take issue with Fuller’s statements – no, you don’t have to understand Jason Voorhees. The 2009 reboot (which is actually pretty good!) took that concept about as far as you could go, re-imagining Jason as a desperate defender of his home turf, part Rambo and part Leatherface. Anything beyond that feels foolhardy. After all, the remakes of Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street attempted to expand the once-simple origin stories of Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger and the results were…unsatisfying, to say the least.

The good news to come out of this report is additional confirmation that Fuller has nixed the plans to make the reboot into a found footage movie, a concept that has plagued the internet for far too long:

There was a lot of found-footage scripts that they wanted us to make and I was not going to do that because I don’t think that can exist in Jason Voorhees’ world.

It’s baffling that it has taken this long to get another Friday the 13th movie off the ground, especially since the first reboot made decent money. The formula has existed since 1980: give a clever filmmaker a small budget and let him run wild, continuity be damned! After all, we’re talking about a film series where Jason fought a Carrie rip-off, took Manhattan, went to Hell, and died so many times that part six had to bring him back as a zombie to explain why he was skill alive and chopping. The key to a great Friday the 13th movie doesn’t lie in a new origin story – that should be the gravy on top of everything else that has made this series work for over thirty years.

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