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Why a FRIDAY THE 13TH Reboot Probably Won’t Happen

Why a FRIDAY THE 13TH Reboot Probably Won’t Happen

Jason Voorhees was unstoppable in the ’80s. Going from not actually being a character in the first Friday the 13th to becoming the biggest horror icon for nearly a decade—deference to Freddy Krueger, of course—Jason racked up a body count that put other slashers to shame, in eight movies between 1981 and 1993. While the 2000s only saw three more cinematic outings, the visage of a hulking brute with a hockey mask and a machete has remained an indelible one. Seems a no-brainer for a reboot, right? Except yet another attempt has been cancelled, this one (according to The Hollywood Reporter) six weeks before filming. So, why?

The official word from Paramount has to do with the Rings sequel doing so poorly and the studio deciding not to go whole-hog into another reboot of a horror franchise, even though director Breck Eisner was ready to go and, again, they were six weeks away from shooting. The film would have apparently been about the origins of Jason and his mother, and while that doesn’t sound particularly interesting to me, there’s no reason—with all the other origin of evil-type movies that have come around recently—why there shouldn’t be a chance with Friday the 13th.

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The last Friday the 13th movie came out in 2009 and was a straight-up reboot, and a sufficient enough hit that it should have been a gimmie to do another one. Yet a sequel didn’t materialize, and other plans for a reboot came and went; eight years between movies is a pretty long time in franchise terms. But, I think there’s a very real reason for the property to keep not being made, and it has everything to do with horror itself. There’s been a sea change in the world of horror for the past few years, and slasher movies, no matter how popular, have not stood the test of time as well they might have.

Everything comes in waves, and the big slasher movie boom began in earnest in 1978 with John Carpenter‘s Halloween and came to an end of sorts by the mid-’90s. Not a super short span of time, but one that produced literally hundreds of films, both in successful franchises and in one-off wannabees that went nowhere. While the slasher movie had a renaissance in the late-90s because of Scream, that wave was a knowing look at a beloved cult subgenre, and the tropes of the original movies became fodder for post-modern self-reflection. Because of this, true slasher movies, without much irony about what they are, have essentially become passé.

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By the mid-to-late 2000s, all of the major slashers have had what’s amounted to failed reboots. Rob Zombie got to make two of his version of Halloween, there’ve been a few weird/crappy Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies, and Chucky is still kicking due to that franchise steadily delving into zany black comedy, but the two big ’80s icons of Freddy and Jason have been left without movies since their initial outing. They most closely embody the ’80s mentality and desire for grungy, gory horror where you watch specifically to see hapless people get horribly brutalized and murdered.

Plus, the idea of the “final girl” doesn’t seem to track anymore—mostly because they’ve grown up. Horror movie heroines are no longer teens or nubile co-eds and instead slightly older women, often young mothers or people put in a caretaker role (frequently unwanted), and are forced to fend off “the evil forces” that seek to destroy them. The “evil forces” in the new horror regime tend to be ghosts or demons that can inhabit houses or otherwise safe havens. These films—like The Babadook or Mama or even the Paranormal Activity movies—can be looked at as the fears surrounding the responsibility of parenthood and the fear of losing yourself to these forces, to the detriment of those you’re protecting.

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Slasher movies are a much more id-centric horror, with a behemoth with a knife penetrating the flesh and taking both the victim’s innocence and their life. While there’s always going to be movies with young women getting stalked by horrible monsters, the horror genre at large—at least the ones people are seeking out—have gone much more into the ego, feeling unsure and worried about your grown-up life, and having something threatened. Check Netflix right now: under horror, aside from zombie movies and classics, I bet the bulk of the ones you’ll find are these quieter, moodier ghost movies.

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So while it’s a bit of a shame we won’t have a Friday the 13th movie any time soon, the climate doesn’t really lend itself to this kind of scare right now. Jason is a relic of a simpler, bloodier time in horror cinema, and in the age of found-footage and unseen terrors, a big guy with an ax just doesn’t cut it.

What do you think, though? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Paramount


Kyle Anderson is the Associate Editor for Nerdist. He writes the weekly look at weird or obscure films in Schlock & Awe. Follow him on Twitter!


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