I absolutely adore Jason Voorhees as a slasher but, if I am being honest, I do not adore most of the Friday the 13th films. To me it a franchise that was successful in spite of the somewhat arbitrary and strange choices made in the series, particularly early on.
The first film is fine as a novelty. The mother of the drowned boy being a killer is a fun idea and it made for a solid film, even with the strange addition of the drowned Jason pulling Alice under the lake in a dream sequence. The reveal Jason is alive in the sequel is, for lack of a better word, tolerable. It’s a stretch – this is me being generous. It doesn’t really make sense given the first film as Pamela goes on about the death of Jason, only for him to be alive in the woods in the sequel. The fact the series does not even really find it’s footing, or even the real, iconic look of Jason until the third film is a problem. The first three films feel disjointed and almost random in their conception.
I still love them, though. They’re fun, strange little movies, and by the end of Friday the 13th III we get the iconic Jason. Somehow the series strikes gold with the third film and builds a franchise with increasingly diminishing results.
Yet Jason Voorhees still has an allure to him, doesn’t he? It is what has drawn me back to re-watching the first eight films on Shudder with my girlfriend. It’s been great, but the necessity of needing to overlook how messy the series is led me to thinking about how I might reboot Friday the 13th to make for a more cohesive story.
Crystal Lake – A Miniseries
My first idea is rather than do a singular film, I would want to see a miniseries of four episodes, about 50 to 60 minutes each. This series would essentially cover the ground of the first three films, but in a manner that makes more sense (at least to me, your milage may vary).
So, I have roughly four episodes to introduce Jason, his mother and get him into the iconic hockey mask to murder some teenagers. No big deal. For added fun, we’ll make the series contemporary.
Given the amount of work to plan out such an episode, I will only tackle the first episode of the miniseries this week.
Episode One – Camp Crystal Lake
The first episode of the series opens in the 1980s. We start with a sex scene between two camp counselors late at night. We are witnessing this through the eyes of an 11-year-old Jason Voorhees. He gives away his position when he creeps too close and the interrupted couple chase the boy down toward the lake, trying to scare and throttle him. As a deformed and developmentally challenged boy, he ends up falling into the lake and drowning. Meanwhile, his mother, Pamela, is searching for him.
In 2020, the town of Crystal Lake has kept up with the times, but the community is keen on bringing back a little bit of the good old days by refurbishing and reopening Camp Crystal Lake, which has been closed since the early 1990s after a drifter’s body was discovered ritualistically slaughtered in one of the cabins. That’s all in the past, though. The future is Camp Crystal Lake, a modern update to the traditional summer camp with all sorts of activities such as culinary and STEM programs.
Not everyone is happy about the plans to reopen the camp. Pamela Voorhees, the mother of the missing Jason from back in the 1980s, believes the camp should be demolished. The town council offers their sympathies for her loss but move on with establishing the camp anyway.
For the town council, the camp is necessary because there has been another murder in Cunningham County, where Crystal Lake resides. For the past thirty years, there seem to be one to two murders or disappearances per year in the area. They’re unsolved and make for a strange but not entirely alarming pattern. A local writer in Crystal Lake, Alice Hardy, has been investigating this pattern for the past five years, but notices there seems to be an escalation. She is convinced that the reopening of the camp may be a flashpoint for a surge of deaths, given the original pattern established itself in the 1980s, shortly after the disappearance of Jason.
Alice decides to conduct her investigation and we get to learn about some of the personalities of the town of Crystal Lake. In order to be nearer to the possible action, Alice joins the camp as a journalism instructor about a week before the children are set to arrive.
… and that is where the murder begins. We get a fun scene where a drunken boating instructor is lashed to a tree, but his legs are tied to the back of a speed-boat which is set off by our mysterious killer, pulling the guy apart. We see the blood being collected. The next day the local sheriff, shocked by the severity of the crime, threatens to shut down the camp, but is blocked from doing so. He decides to investigate. His first subject? Alice. She does have an interest in tragedy in the area, after all.
Pamela makes one last plea with the town council to halt the plans to reopen the camp. But she is rebuffed. Enraged she returns home, to her ramshackle cabin. She’s clearly seen better days. She grabs a beer, tries to calm down, but moaning fills the air of the cabin. She sighs and grabs a can of blood from the refrigerator and makes her way to the basement.
In the dark, we just make out the back of a large, misshapen man. Pamela apologizes to him, wishing she had more to give him to “ease his pain.” She begins to rub blood on the figure and then holds up the bucket for him to drink from.
We flashback to the 1980s. Pamela, looking for her son, witnesses Jason being chased into the water and in a rage slaughters the counselors and drags Jason’s body from the lake. She makes her way home where she cries over her boy as she prepares for a black magic ritual. Using blood magic she is able to bring Jason back to life, but he’s… different. He’s not quite alive, nor is he dead. The episode ends with her chaining her son up in the basement, for his protection.
In the present, Alice is combing through camp records and discovers a familiar name in the staff registry back in the 1980s.
What do you think?
It’s a rough sketch of the first episode but I expect you can see where we’re going with this.
Look, I know trying to reboot a series so beloved as Friday the 13th is akin to consuming a live infant in front of a Catholic church but I cannot help but tinker. I do not make a claim that my approach is superior, either. I am simply trying to develop a version of a series that I love that feels a little more cohesive. Besides, it’s kind of fun, right?
What do you think, though? Would you want to see this episode of a Friday the 13th miniseries? Let us know in the comments. The second episode outline will go up in the next Weekly Wail update.