What can Friday fans expect from this series reboot?
Everyone's favorite hockey-masked serial killer is going back to basics on Friday, February 13, 2009. For the new series reboot, Jason Voorhees will not be in Manhattan, space or battling Freddy Krueger. No, perennial horror remake producers Brad Fuller, Andrew Form and Michael Bay (2003's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 2005's Amityville Horror) have taken Jason (Derek Mears) back to the locale where his murder-spree began, Camp Crystal Lake.
ReelzChannel sat down with the new Jason, Derek Mears, and producers Andrew Form and Brad Fuller to discuss the new Friday the 13th. Shortly before the interview, they showed an eye-popping reel of action-oriented footage that delighted the Comic-Con audience.
The producers had two main objectives once they decided to remake Friday the 13th. The first was to keep the movie at Camp Crystal Lake and the second was to avoid any kind of origin story that might attempt to make Jason a sympathetic character.
"We did that in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning," says Fuller. "I think one of the reasons that movie didn't do as well as the first one is we made Thomas Pruitt a sympathetic character and I don't think audiences want their killers to be sympathetic. I think they want them to be hellbent on one thing and one thing only."
"We were always adamant that we wanted to make a movie where Jason Voorhees is a brutal killer. Where he runs and it's real and it's really horrifying. We went through three incarnations of writers before we got what we wanted. Once the tone of the movie was right we went all systems go. What we wanted to do was take it back to what the original movies that took place at a camp. There is a guy who is a terrifying ruthless killer and not a joke and not doing stupid things. We want it to be real and horrifying."
The role of Jason was a dream come true for Derek Mears, who had grown up as a big fan of the series. "I think it's the closest thing to becoming a rock star or feeling like a rock star," says Mears. "It's so surreal, being a fan growing up, running around in a hockey mask for Halloween and then having the industry go, "Hey man, why don't you represent and come play it for real. It's a great, great honor."
This new Jason won't be the lumbering, slow-moving stalker of the past. In the footage we were shown, Jason moved quickly and with an almost martial arts-like grace. "They wanted this Jason to be more functional," says Mears. "They weren't worried about being big and bulky. I did a lot of functional training and my background is actually martial arts."
"The way that Mark [Swift] and Damian [Shannon] have written the script, there's a lot more levels to him," says Mears. "He's more of a full-fleshed character and not just a guy in a mask running around killing people. You can go to one side where there's the child that's hurt and tormented and empathize with what he's going through. But then to switch that and put that on a negative light where it becomes aggressively intense and angry where he takes that torment out. You have that energy that's built up and you see it released. I was really happy when I first read the script. This is actually an intelligent script [and] it doesn't downplay to the fans. There's a lot more depth to it than a regular stereotypical slasher."
Donning the mask for the first time was a near-religious experience for the movie fan in Derek. "I went into Scott [Stoddard]'s (character designer) shop to try the mask on for the first time. He brings out this big case with six of the masks. Everyone in the shop kind of stops what they're doing and I feel everyone kind of watching me. It was a kind of Excalibur moment like putting the crown on. It was like that feeling when you watch Star Wars and after the 20th Century Fox logo and the words scroll down and you get that chill, that's what it felt like. How did I get here? This is amazing. I turned and look at everybody and they stood up and started applauding."
Although Jason might move faster, fans shouldn't worry about the core elements that make up a Friday the 13th movie disappearing. Translation: Yes, there will be nudity.
"We don't let you down," Form says with a laugh.
"There are so many boobies," Fuller adds. "This is our seventh movie that we've done as a company. We've never had any nudity and we've made up for it all in this movie."
But the rules don't necessarily apply either. Just because you choose to abstain from sex doesn't necessarily mean Jason will leave your limbs in tact.
"No rules," says Fuller. "We threw out all the rules. The rule is everyone dies."
Jason's famous "Kill, Kill, Kill" theme will also be present. During the Comic-Con footage, fans erupted as it faded in. "I think you have to keep that theme song in the movie," says Fuller. "It's disrespectful not to. Andrew does the money and he's good with movie because we're usually on budget. When that came up and there was a check to write, he was the first one to say 'We've gotta write that check.'"
Fuller also says not to expect a long wait through artsy origin flashbacks before the blood splatter begins either. "We have a flashback that we're trying to determine if it works in the movie. Beyond that, this is Jason Voorhees doing what he does best."
"In our movie Jason Voorhees is a guy who lives in the wilderness. He traps his food and he's got his world that he doesn't want people infringing on. If you infringe on his world, he's gonna kill you."
The teen fodder of this new Friday might be a little smarter than their blood-covered counterparts of more than two decades ago. But since Jason is also a little smarter and a lot quicker this time around, don't expect them to stand any more of a chance. "This is a world where the kids in our movie are aware of Jason Voorhees certainly and of what happened at Camp Crystal Lake. Hopefully if we did our job right, it's not a bunch of kids sitting around and people are wondering what's happening. What attracted us to the script is that a lot of the killing happens at the same time so that you aren't doing that."
"We have 13 people to kill in 90 minutes which is double what we've ever had to do. We don't want audiences to go 'Jesus those kids are dumb.' You can't avoid it on some level, but it's something that we are always striving to eliminate."
And if the theatrical release doesn't satisfy the rabid blood lust of Friday the 13th fans, just wait for the DVD. Fuller and Form says that there will be as much as an hour of deleted footage for deleted scenes and a possible unrated cut. "The assembly was probably two and a half hours," says Fuller. "The final movie will be 90 minutes, so there's an hour of stuff that we're going to have to cut out of the movie."
"I can't imagine that the ratings board is going to be euphoric about giving us an R rating with what we're going to turn into them."