What should be done with the ‘Friday the 13th’ franchise?

The ‘Friday the 13th’ franchise hasn’t seen a new entry since 2009 and it appears that things are gearing up for a new movie to go into production sometime soon. Producer Brad Fuller discussed what’s going on with the franchise in a recent interview with Esquire. In the interview Fuller said the upcoming movie could explore why Jason keeps coming back to life. Is showing more information about the iconic killer and his background the right direction for the franchise?

The ‘Friday the 13th’ movies have never been known for great film making or acting, and the stories haven’t exactly been well regarded either. The franchise’s main asset has been the fact that the character of Jason Vorhees is a single minded killer that allows for creative and interesting kills. Years ago when Rob Zombie was announced as the director for the ‘Halloween’ reboot, I thought that it was a bad call as he would have been much better suited to the sensibilities of the ‘Friday the 13th’ series. Most of the characters in the series only served as fodder for Jason, and didn’t command any sympathy from the audience. People show up to the theater to watch Jason rack up a body count with as much gore and nudity as possible along the way.

‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ went into the background of Jason’s abilities to some extent and tied other members of his family into the story. The movie didn’t exactly set the box office on fire as it was one of the lowest grossing movies of the franchise. The 2009 reboot re-imagined the first four films and didn’t stray far from the template that they laid out. The movie looked nice but did nothing to stand out from the earlier films. ‘Jason X’ took place in a sci-fi space setting to shake things up, but was a critical bomb and the lowest grossing movie of the series.

“Friday” fans want to see a new movie, but based on the reception of the past few it’s kind of hard to pick a direction for what comes next. A huge mistake for any horror franchise is to demystify the main character too much or to get too caught up in its own mythology. I would recommend that the next movie ignore the Vorhees family tree and not attempt to over explain the fact that it’s seemingly impossible to destroy Jason. Make sure that the kills are over the top, and make sure that there is actually tension as Jason stalks his prey. If Jason is treated more as an unstoppable force of nature that stays out of frame most of the time, it will make it more frightening when he finally does show up and brutally murder his victims. Don’t include any incredibly cliched characters to be served up as victims or use gimmicky ideas like live web streams of the violence or Go-Pro footage to make things seem more “hip” and modern.

If the next movie to feature Jason Vorhees avoids any overly cheesy ideas or characters and delivers the goods in terms of creative and gory kills, people will watch. Trying to bring more mythology into the series is likely to be a bad idea. Another bad idea would be to simply make another rushed low budget entry that retreads the same ground as earlier movies. When there are already 11 movies in a franchise (12 including ‘Freddy Vs. Jason’), it’s going to be difficult to make a compelling entry that offers anything new. We’ll get to complain about whatever the producers eventually decide to do sometime soon.