Like it or not, the 2010’s are ending with no new Friday the 13th movie. This will be the first decade without a franchise entry since the original movie debuted in 1980. For those keeping count, a decade has passed since the 2009 remake. After countless onscreen deaths and resurrections, all it took was a legal dispute over ownership rights to keep Jason Voorhees down. Recent rumblings, however, hint that a resolution may arrive next June. If that’s indeed the case, one would expect a new movie to get greenlit fairly quickly. After all, Hollywood loves familiar intellectual property. And in horror, Jason Voorhees is one the most recognizable IP’s out there. But with so much change in horror in the last decade, what would a new Friday the 13th look like? Below are four suggestions along with one absolute ‘no no’.
What Not To Do – A Prequel
Of all the major horror franchises, Friday the 13th is arguably the simplest. As much as I love the movies (or most of them), it’s a pretty straightforward series. Consider also for a moment that prequels rarely work. In horror, not knowing is usually scarier than having things spelled out. Look at the endless ret-conning in the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Did Freddy’s Dead really need to explain why Freddy Krueger could haunt our dreams? Certainly, it didn’t make that sequel particularly good. Did the Cult of Thorn add much to Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers? And is there really anything to explore in Jason’s origins? A young Jason is a dead end for the franchise.
1 – A Straight-Up Sequel
Perhaps the easiest option is just a straight-up sequel. That’s right, just make another Friday the 13th movie like nothing ever happened. Find yourself a Jason Voorhees (if not Kane Hodder, than Derek Mears), get a cast of young, attractive unknowns out to a camp on a lake, and create some over-the-top death scenes with practical effects. Continuity was never high on the franchise’s list. Right from Friday the 13th Part 2, the series’ timeline doesn’t make much sense. Jason has died, come back to life, and had his origins ret-conned so many times. Rather than overthinking it, just get back to the business of making Friday the 13th movies. Maybe just don’t put him in space this time.
2 – A Found-Footage Friday the 13th
This isn’t a novel suggestion. Studio executives have batted around the idea of a found-footage approach to the next Friday the 13th in the past. And while found-footage has been overdone, it does bring something new to the series. When found-footage is done right it adds a layer of creepiness extending from its ‘this really happened’ vibe. Over multiple sequels, the Friday the 13th franchise has been bogged down with silly ideas. A ‘faux documentary’ exploring the Crystal Lake murders and the urban legend of ‘the boy who drowned’ could make Jason scary again. It would strip away a lot of the unnecessary baggage the series has accrued. To date, fan-made short films have used the approach with some success, so there’s definitely a case for it.
3 – Soft-Reboot the Franchise
After Halloween 2018’s success, studios owning the rights to horror franchises should have been adding past talent to speed dial. Part sequel, part soft reboot, Halloween 2018 illustrated the allure of going back to basics. In addition to ignoring all other sequels, Halloween 2018 brought back its major original stars, including Nick Castle as ‘The Shape’. And the upcoming sequels, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends, are bringing back even more original characters. It was a back-to-basics approach to the material that made Michael Myers scary again.
Just what did happen to Paul in Friday the 13th Part II?
Imagine a Friday the 13th sequel set years after the Camp Crystal Lake massacres. This sequel could directly follow the 1980 original movie, exploring the rumours of Jason Voorhees stalking the woods. Alternatively, to keep things simpler, the sequel could follow either Parts II and/or III to clearly use Jason in promotional material. Though Part III picks up immediately after the first sequel (and yes, The Final Chapter does, too), it introduces too many continuity problems. But a sequel that acknowledges Part II keeps Jason in the mix and would allow for Amy Steele to return as arguably the series’ best ‘Final Girl‘, Ginny. And we might finally get an answer to the question, ‘What happened to Paul?’
4 – Take the Franchise in a Different Direction
While we haven’t had a theatrical Friday the 13th movie in over a decade, there have some very good fan movies. One of the best examples, Never Hike Alone, shows what a more modern take on Jason could be in a full movie. No nubile campers breaking social taboos and getting hacked to pieces. Vincente DiSanti’s 54 minute YouTube movie follows a lone backpacker who stumbles across the long abandoned Camp Crystal Lake. Contrary to, well, all Friday the 13th movies, Never Hike Alone does an atmospheric slow burn before Jason shows up. From that point onward, Never Hike Alone is more survival horror than slasher.
But Never Hike Alone doesn’t get bogged down with details.
In fact, Never Hike Alone does quite a few things right. Like Halloween 2018, it’s connected to the original movie. Yet DiSanti’s approach of just dropping a character into Camp Crystal Lake and moving full steam ahead avoids a lot of problems. You have a goalie-mask wearing Jason and Camp Crystal Lake. A little fan service is thrown in with some subtle references to the first movie. But Never Hike Alone doesn’t get bogged down with details. Which sequels are canon? What has Jason been doing all these years? None of these things matter. It’s a Friday the 13th movie that gets rid of the baggage and avoids long stretches of unnecessary expository dialogue.