The recent comeback of legendary horror icons with a modern guise to them has proven that there is room in the industry for such experiences to make a return. While some of these comebacks have proven to be effective such as 2018's Halloween to 2022's Scream, one that sadly never worked out in its favor or had a fair chance to reboot the horror icon's legacy was Friday The 13th.
Now with original director Sean S. Cunningham reportedly rebooting the franchise and the Crystal Lake series in the works, it seems that the franchise has a fighting chance to make the reboot it deserves.
Related: Friday The 13th Reboot In Development With Film's Original Director
2009's Friday the 13th would come close. With a reimagined concept of the renowned horror icon, it had every intention of bringing Jason Voorhees back to his traditional beginnings. While Voorhees had been to Manhattan, Hell, outer space, even to the deepest parts of his own nightmares in Freddy Vs. Jason, interestingly enough, a reboot was the only place the franchise had never thought to go at a time when the industry was booming with remakes. It was an insatiable fact that a story as rich and intense as Friday the 13th would work as a reboot, The Last House on The Left, My Bloody Valentine, Sorority Row, The Stepfather, and Night of Demons were proof of this.
While the 2009 reboot had been battle tested with having one of the best production studios at the time helming the project Platinum Dunes, it would ultimately not garner the same impact that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Amityville Horror would produce. It would feel empty and lifeless, a hollow interpretation of what the 1980s original once offered fans many years ago. Something was missing. Regardless of its box-office earnings and attempt to make the series relevant again, the reimagined concept would fail to move the needle for fans of the franchise. One of the worst concepts for the franchise would finally put Jason Voorhees to bed for good.
While many horror fans can attest to the fact that the series had its share of problems in the beginning, the real issue with the reboot, despite having good cinematography throughout, was that it had all the films at its disposal for inspiration, yet the experience felt unimaginative and phoned-in. With this being the last film for this series to die on and legal issues breathing down the neck of the franchise for over half a decade, it seemed impossible that the series would ever return.
Last year, fans were tickled pink at the news of the new A24 series Crystal Lake, written and run by Hannibal's Bryan Fuller. While the Peacock expanded prequel series has yet to unveil a reveal date, this was the first time Jason had surfaced in 14 years. For fans, it was giving them a chance to see their favorite horror figure in a newer, more intimate light. Now original director Sean S. Cunningham alongside screenwriter Jeff Locker and director Jeremy Weiss to make fans' dreams a reality. The original scriptwriter Victor Miller still holds the rights to the Friday the 13th script and its characters, according to an interview with Bloody Disgusting, which confirmed the nightmare of legal claims regarding why Jason had been kept hidden within its murky depths. He does not, however, own the rights to the character's "adult" incarnation. Where the story goes from here is the burning question that remains in everyone's mind.
At this point, a reboot is not only necessary, but it also requires a deeper understanding of Jason Voorhees as a character to be truly successful, without neglecting the fans in the process. Friday the 13th was a series that set the tone for what a slasher could look like moving forward. While it was not a novelty slasher by any means, Black Christmas and Halloween would take those roles before Jason would enter the fray, but it would revolutionize how an antagonist would interact in a specific unique location, a campground. Friday the 13th was somewhat revolutionary for its time because horror was also entering a period where it could afford to spread its wings and be a little campy in its presentation.
Audiences at the time loved not only seeing the unique look of Jason Voorhees, but the very idea of him was an intriguing concept as well. The idea of a boy somehow surviving being tossed into a lake at a summer camp and has been living in a cabin in the woods, taking revenge on anyone that dares to take a step on the soil of Camp Crystal Lake intrigued audiences everywhere. Such a story must return to its origins to respect the character for a reboot, but how is that possible given the current situation, in which one-half of the character's story is in legal jeopardy?
Here is where the upcoming series Crystal Lake can come into play. What the past year and the majority of this year have shown is that, even in horror, people are looking for a sense of nostalgia. No one wants a bloated, over-produced version of their favorite horror stories on a theater screen. In fact, despite earning enormous dividends, 2009's Friday the 13th moved that point even further. For Jason to be allowed to explore further, a certain amount of compelling honesty must go into Jason's backstory while welding in the uncanny sense of campiness the series has always been known for.
The ludicrousness in Jason's narrative can still be taken seriously and used to its advantage. While the original script ideas content out of their hands, a note can be taken from Victor Miller's page of delivery. While he intended to capitalize on Halloween's popularity, a lot is being implied without being explicitly stated. A lot of themes can be explored within this franchise, from innocence transforming into the darkness to overcoming death by dark design. But what can be explored more in Jason's story is how his mother's murderous will was the source of all his trauma, driving him to be molded by a creator and wrath itself to become a killer.
Using this strategy, it can very well adapt the story beats from Crystal Lake and truly make a reboot worthy of fans' affection. Bringing Friday The 13th back to its nostalgic guise would do more than bring back the fans, but also bring the modern horror fans back to the magic of what made this era of horror so effective in the first place. While bringing back Jason from his watery grave is something many horror geeks are craving, a note to consider is that an educated horror fan is not just looking for a trip back to yesteryear. Locker stated that there is a plan for a sequel to the original should both sides not choose to come together to avoid legal issues.
If there is anything that films like cult hits from The House Of The Devil to the successful arthouse slasher franchise Terriifer have proven is that audiences see 1980s horror as the pinnacle of the genre. But with each of those films, there is something more attached to it than just a favorable 1980s slasher context. With Friday The 13th, there needs to be more. While the most recent Halloween movies went a little deeper into the character of Michael Myers and the overall plot, Friday the 13th needs to stand out by appealing to its 80s tropes while still retaining the unadulterated excess of what motivates Jason Voorhees to kill and applying that to its murder scenes.
Although it's too early to predict what themes will emerge for the television show and the upcoming movie, let's hope that both will rebuild a more robust narrative foundation for the Friday the 13th franchise.
More: Dead By Daylight: Iconic Killers The Game Should Add Next