The news that Friday the 13th’s original director is making a movie reboot doesn’t need to be bad for the Jason Voorhees prequel show Crystal Lake.
The Friday the 13th franchise may get two reboots in the form of Bryan Fuller’s prequel series Crystal Lake and original director Sean S Cunningham’s new movie. No matter how often the villain of a classic slasher franchise is killed, they always keep coming back. The blockbuster success of 2018’s Halloween reboot spawned a whole new trilogy and proved that Michael Myers still had some life left in him. This hit was swiftly followed by Scream 2022, which revived the meta-slasher franchise. In October 2022, Jason Voorhees joined this list of returning slasher villains when it was announced that producer Bryan Fuller was working on a Friday the 13th TV prequel.
Fuller’s TV series Crystal Lake is set to explore the backstory of Jason Voorhees and revive the Friday the 13th franchise after the series spent years off screens thanks to a protracted legal battle between its original creators. Now, proving once again that Jason Voorhees can’t be killed, the original Friday the 13th director season S Cunningham is also working on a new theatrical installment of the slasher series. It is unclear whether this Friday the 13th movie will be a sequel or another backstory-centric prequel like Crystal Lake. However, what is clear is that both of these projects seem to be in competition with each other.
Two Rival Friday The 13th Projects Could Be Good News
Per screenwriter Jeff Locker, original director Sean S Cunningham is working on a movie reboot of the Friday the 13th movies: “Obviously, the prequel TV series has reignited interest about a new film, so we’re hoping the surrounding excitement will inspire both sides to come together and give us Jason on the big screen again.” Locker hopes to avoid a recent horror franchise reboot’s big mistake by securing a theatrical release for this new Friday the 13th movie, and if Crystal Lake’s Jason backstory is sufficiently different in terms of tone, Cunningham’s film and the prequel show can both succeed by taking tonally contrasting approaches to the story.
MLocker went on to say, “we also have a Plan B for a sequel to the original we think fans will absolutely love and should avoid any legal entanglements.” While this comment might make it seem like the “plan B” is a lesser option that the creators will need to rely on only if Crystal Lake’s creators don’t want to collaborate, there is no reason that having two dueling Friday the 13th projects in the works at once needs to be a bad thing. This way, one can offer a sympathetic look at Jason’s backstory, and the other can offer a more straightforward, classic Friday the 13th outing.
Slasher Franchises Can’t Always Pull This Off
While M3GAN’s box office success proved that killer dolls can still scare up serious business among genre fans, the earlier murderous toy series Child’s Play series has already offered a sobering look at what can go wrong for slasher franchises that stage two competing projects in quick succession. While SyFy’s Chucky show was well-loved by both viewers and critics, 2019’s unrelated movie reboot Child’s Play was met with derision from fans and reviewers alike. The reboot’s attempts to change Chucky’s origin story and appearance were attempts to reinvent the series. However, this alienated existing fans and won over few new viewers.
As such, Friday the 13th must avoid this approach. Crystal Lake and Cunningham’s Friday the 13th sequel can’t change the original franchise formula too much, as this is what doomed the Childs Play reboot. Luckily, Jason’s funny, over-the-top kills will have a place in Cunningham’s direct sequel, while the scarier, more self-serious tone of the earlier Friday the 13th movies and 2009’s reboot will find a home in Crystal Lake. As a result, the two projects can both take inspiration from the franchise’s heyday while also both focusing on very different interpretations of the source material and Jason’s story.
How Friday The 13th Can Succeed On TV And In Cinemas
If Cunningham’s Friday the 13th reboot is more of a classic sequel and Crystal Lake is a deconstruction of the original movie’s simplistic Jason backstory, the two projects will be tonally divergent enough to both succeed in tandem. Friday the 13th’s TV show has beaten many slasher reboots by giving the series a period setting, which allowed the Fear Street trilogy to tap into audience nostalgia. While Crystal Lake can harken back to the 80s like IT and Stranger Things, Friday the 13th’s movie sequel can instead offer a more modern, up-to-date spin on Jason Voorhees.
The success of Scream 2022 proved that smart meta-slashers are financially viable, and Cunningham’s movie could cash in on this. If Crystal Lake sincerely explores how Jason Voorhees became a monster, Cunningham’s Friday the 13th sequel could be a more playful, self-referential spin on the series like the acclaimed Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives. After all, Cunningham’s original movie is a Giallo-influenced whodunit, so returning to the franchise’s roots would mean a sequel that felt more like a Scream movie than another unnecessary Jason Voorhees origin story.
Friday The 13th Must Utilize Jason’s Diversity
Jason is a potentially sympathetic, tragic anti-villain and the terrifying monster of the original series, and each reboot can take one of these approaches. The Friday the 13th franchise gave Jason many forms, but the series never explored his sympathetic side with much depth or sincerity. Crystal Lake could handle this part of Jason’s story, while Cunningham’s sequel could recapture the original Friday the 13th’s tense mystery story and gory thrills.
There is no reason that Crystal Lake and Sean S Cunningham’s Friday the 13th project can’t both take two radically different approaches to the same iconic story. The Friday the 13th franchise has switched tones, settings, and plot details more times than most viewers can keep up with, so another unexpected change isn’t inconceivable. Provided they both stay true to the essence of what makes Jason Voorhees compelling, the Friday the 13th movie and the prequel TV show Crystal Lake can both become killer hits whether their creators end up working on the projects together or apart.