Friday 13th Part 2 (2015) – Lessons to learn from Horror History

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Brad Fuller, co-owner of Platinum Dunes, recently gave an interview to Crave Online discussing the various rumours surrounding the 2015  sequel to 2009s Friday the 13th. Whilst not confirming or denying anything, there are two interesting developments that will greatly shape the finished product: Firstly the widely reported rumour that the movie will follow the popular found-footage approach (think Paranormal Activity et al) and secondly, and most important of all, that they are exploring non Jason Voorhees options. Both or either of these moves would be bold change for the 12-movie franchise. But before ploughing ahead with either Platinum Dunes would be wise to consider recent horror history:

Found Footage: This is a risky visual move indeed. Found footage only works and is only accepted by the wider audience (and this will be a movie that wants to appeal outside of the inner nerd circuit) when the narrative and the setting justify it. Given that the technique offers filmmakers a way to vastly slash the production budget it’s become widely used on the Indie, D2DVD, and VOD circuit. Meaning there’s far more misses than hits out there. A traditional Friday movie could fit the mould (authorities find the camera of missing campers/camp councillors etc). Producers be warned, look at high profile casualties Halloween Resurrection , Diary of the Dead, Apollo 18, and The Devil Inside. But at its best the technique can be absolutely terrifying, see [REC] for a masterclass in how to empty your bowels. Of all the infamous boogeymen, Jason could actually work best here. Unless..,

Jason Voorhees isn’t in the movie at all: Now you’re on dangerous ground. Audiences (specifically horror audiences) are very attached to comfortable familiarity, especially when it comes to icons of Horror. In 1982 the producers of the Halloween franchise thought the franchise name had more marquee value than Michael Myers, and what an error that was. And it gets even worse if the audience recognise the actors behind the makeup. Attempts to replace Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger, Doug Bradley’s Pinhead, Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal and Anthony Perkins’s Norman Bates on the big screen have met with resistance from audiences. Luckily for producers of the Friday’s, Halloween’s, and Texas Chainsaw’s there’s at least an infamous mask to hide behind. Jason has a lot of flexibility for filmmakers to mould their own unique interpretation of the killer, but he’s still Jason. The point being that the actor and or boogeyman are often, if not always, more important than the name of the franchise itself.., put simply they ARE the brand. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think Friday the 13th?

Platinum Dunes own remake history: The Dunes have had mixed success pillaging the remake bank. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was the high point in my opinion, with things never going quite right for The Hitcher, The Amityville Horror, TCM: The Beginning, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. On too many occasions they’ve strayed too far from what made the original movies so successful – Rutger Hauer and Thomas Howell’s ambiguous relationship, the grimey feel of the Amityville house, a deranged and un-shackled dream master – and that’s the catch 22 of the reamke, are you updating an old movie or giving the audience an entirely new movie that happens to bare the original’s name? Platinum Dunes make very good looking horror movies, but there is often a soulless feel to them that ultimately alienates the audience. Hence why we haven’t seen any followups to a single Dunes remake save for TCM.

So tread carefully Fuller and Form. All you have to do is deliver us something different but familiar, something new yet traditional, and something radical that’s comforting. Is that too much to ask? PS no 3D while you’re at it. Thanks.

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