Keep It Simple: Thoughts on Remaking Friday the 13th

From here on, the film will be discussed up to and including the ending. Last chance. Here there be Dragons.
The Friday the 13th series is discussed in the following essay.

So I’m reading this article on about the late, unlamented remake/reboot/whatever of Friday the 13th that recently got the ax.  For the most part, I’m neutral.  I’m not the typical fan–I’m not big on “cool” kills, say–but I’m not against the series.  It is what it is, and if I’m to be honest the last few times I indulged I enjoyed myself.

Then I hit the following quote (emphasis mine):

As for Jason, his brief backstory is enough to warrant why he’s killing. He drowned, then his mother was killed, and now he’s killing anyone who steps into Camp Crystal Lake. His story is simple, and the new film should start from there.

Let me start by saying that I agree with the central idea behind the above.  You don’t need much backstory to do a proper Friday the 13th.  You don’t need much backstory to do any Slasher flick.  There’s no need for wondering who the killer is or bemoaning how bad a childhood the killer had, either.  The killer needs to be ruthless, the characters need to be sympathetic, and the plot shouldn’t have too many really stupid moments.  That’s it.  There’s a reason why it’s the go-to subgenre in the field.

Thing is, there’s nothing simple about Jason Voorhees.

He dies, his mother dies, now he’s killing.

There seems to be a step missing somewhere.

Like, say, how he came back from the dead as a fully formed adult!

I don’t think it ever gets adequately explained (ignoring a certain sequel, which seemed more like a reboot of the premise and not an honest continuation).  Initial he somehow was living in the woods at the same time his mother died.  Then as the series progresses, he becomes more and more an undead thing.  With no real logic behind it.

On the one hand, it doesn’t matter.  For the previously stated reasons.

On the other hand, it feels like a missed opportunity some how.  How did it happen?  Did whatever it was happen before?  Can it happen again?

I think one of the few things the last remake got right was by-passing this issue.  It’s still there–for some reason Mrs. Voorhees still thinks her son is dead–but it’s nowhere near as bad as in the original series.

Original series.  Yeah, like there’s really been a second one.

That’s beside the point.  What I think is, ideally, if you’re going to reboot the series, go all the way with it.  No Mrs. Voorhees having a little kill fest of her own.  Just Jason stalking the woods, killing those he comes across in his territory.

If you simply have to have any of the original backstory, make it a story one councilor tells another.  No flashback, no scenes saying yay or nay about whether it’s true or not.  Just words.

In other words, make the “simple” backstory of Jason even simpler.  He doesn’t need the excess baggage.  Especially if you’re never going to do the proper work to sell it.


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