Plans for a new installment in the venerable Friday the13th franchise have been brewing for months, and they exploded this week when a new release date became public. As Mike Bracken at Movies.com reported, we can expect a new Friday the 13th in theaters on March 13, 2015.
This will be not be your father's Friday the 13th. Rather than make a sequel to 2009's Friday the 13th, which was itself a reboot, Paramount will make a 2015 edition that is also a reboot. While it made a certain amount of sense to reboot the series in 2009 -- the two previous installments, Jason X (2001) and Freddy vs. Jason (2003), had pretty much made a mockery of Jason Voorhees as a terrifying figure of machete death -- the decision to reboot again is, initially, a bit baffling.
Perhaps even more puzzling is the decision to go with a found-footage angle. Mike Bracken wrote: "Found footage is a compelling medium when done right and when used to tell a certain kind of story. A typical Friday film is not that sort of story. Found footage requires the willing suspension of disbelief -- meaning the audience has to accept that the characters would keep filming even while horrible things are happening. Hard to see that being the case while Jason takes a machete to the face of a poor, unsuspecting teenager." Yet that decision has been confirmed by Drew McWeeny at HitFix. "Even worse," he adds, "the more I hear about this version, the less it sounds like a Friday The 13th movie and more like a movie that happens to be called Friday The 13th."
While that's indeed troubling for longtime fans of the franchise, the more we think about it, the more we like it. The original series of films may have created many fond memories for young horror buffs (who are now aging into the 30s and 40s, and thus no longer the target audience), but let's face it: they were cheap knockoffs of other movies, better known for their death scenes than for any suspense or tension. We can rhapsodize all we want about Jason Voorhees -- and, don't worry, we will! -- but he's little more than an implacable masked serial killer. He barely figures in the first movie, and when he's next seen, it's under a bag. Why shouldn't a new generation get a new Jason?
Some of our favorite horror movies are cheap knockoffs, so we certainly don't have any problem with them in general. But there's no need to view the Friday the 13th franchise as holy ground upon which only deserving acolytes may tread. Instead, we're hoping that Paramount will give Camp Crystal Lake an entirely new look and feel, in a universe that's never heard of Jason Voorhees, or Michael Myers or Freddy Krueger, for that matter. Then maybe we'll have another series that we can anticipate every year, just like Paramount's other horror franchise: Paranormal Activity.