I'm on record as being a non-fan of the Friday the 13th franchise, which set the standard for the mega-stupid slasher boom of the 1980s over a series of 12 films (including the mashup Freddy vs. Jason and the 2009 remake) that emphasized bloody, creative kills over the relative restraint of films like John Carpenter's Halloween and Bob Clark's 1974 classic Black Christmas. In short: I don't much care about Platinum Dunes' forthcoming F13 reboot. And yet! The film is being written by Prisoners screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski, adding a layer of unexpected prestige to the critically-reviled series.
About that. In a new interview with The Reel Word, producer Brad Fuller has hinted that, true to Guzikowski's A-list credentials, the reboot will perhaps be more character-driven than previous entries in the franchise:
“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.”
So, is this an origin story?
“Origin-ish, but it”s an origin that no one has seen before. Obviously Pamela”s there, but it”s a little bit different from what you”ve seen before.”
Look, we're never gonna get an arthouse Friday the 13th movie. Just not going to happen. But I will be interested to see if Fuller and co. can make one that rises above the hack psychology of the original films to offer a deeper look at Jason's motivations. Then again! They tried that with Halloween and audiences pretty much hated it. And at the end of the day, I have to wonder whether the majority of F13 fans even care to know more about Jason's origins. Aren't these ultimately films that people watch for the “kills”?
No less an authority than John Carpenter recently voiced his distaste for the over-explanation of Michael Myers' backstory in that film's sequels and later Rob Zombie's remake and its followup, telling Bret Easton Ellis on the American Psycho author's podcast that the movies forgot what made the original work so well. “I don't know why [Michael Myers] was there,” he said. “That's wasn't important. He's a force of nature. He's not — he's partially human, partially supernatural. And the more you explain him, the less frightening he is.”
The difference between Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees is, Jason Voorhees was never truly scary (ditto the camp-tastic Pamela Voorhees from the 1980 original). He's more of a Terminator-type killing machine. In that sense, it's conceivable that offering up some new psychological angle on Jason could actually make him more frightening depending on how they go about it. I'm just not sure that's an angle that the existing, ardent fanbase for a series that caters mainly in blood and breasts will accept, and that's ultimately the corner the producers of the franchise have painted themselves into.
Friday the 13th is currently slated for release on January 13, 2017.