Jason Voorhees has had a turbulent few decades. After going to hell in 1993, he was blasted into space in Jason X, and then resurrected for battle in the 2003 Freddy vs. Jason, all before being rebooted in Platinum Dunes’ 2009 Friday the 13th. That means we’ve seen Jason on screen only four times in over 20 years. That’s quite a change for a franchise that was spewing out sequels as quick as Lionsgate’s SAW franchise.
Now, several years after the remake hit theaters, Platinum Dunes and Paramount Pictures are reworking Friday the 13th once again. As of this writing, Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners) has completed a draft of the screenplay with Breck Eisner now attached to direct. The targeted release of January 13, 2017 seems unlikely, though, as October 13th, 2017 appears to be a more realistic date.
It’s been a tremulous process that looked to be on stable ground, especially when they locked David Bruckner (The Signal, V/H/S, Southbound) to direct back in April of 2014. He spent over a year developing the latest installment, with original plans to latch onto Paramount’s love for found-footage horror. Once they realized the fad was just that, Bruckner was forced to start from scratch with a new writer: “Hannibal’s” Nick Antosca (who created Syfy’s “Channel Zero” that’s airing this fall). The two would work on the project until December of 2015, when the studio decided to move in a new direction (again).
Now that Platinum Dunes and Paramount Pictures are moving forward with a new screenplay, I thought it would be fun – much like with the Halloween Returns script – to take a look at what could have been. I got my hands on Antosca’s script, dated 6/4/15, which I’m told was the first pass at the non-found-footage direction that was to be filming 3-D and take place in the 1980’s. Now, all mysteries will be revealed; what were the top secret plans for the better part of 2015?!
Friday the 13th 3D opens on CRYSTAL LAKE with George Michael’s “One More Try” playing in the background (press “Play”).
A body floats in the water. It looks deceased. Only, this is a fun jump-scare that introduces us to SLOANE, who is teaching a young boy how to rescue someone in trouble. It’s a bit of lifeguard training. From there, we’re slowly introduced to all of the camp counselors, who have their own complex relationships that have formed over the course of a summer.
KIRBY is extremely religious, so much so that she wouldn’t even have sex with Johnny Depp or Patrick Swayze (but maybe she’d make out with Swayze).
All of the guys are obsessing over VANESSA, who wants to be acknowledged as more than a hot bod – she’s smarter than the audience would expect (Antosca is fucking with the audience here).
BRAD and AMBER are deep into a summer-long relationship, while we also meet Brad’s fraternal twin, KEVIN; the atypical jock, GREG; and the stoner of the group, WES “WEEZER”.
As all of the teenagers are fucking around; the scene is set for a near-fatal drowning (yes, there’s a bit of harmonic parallelism in this sequence that Friday fans will recognize). Luckily, the camper is saved.
The audience is then given the cue that it’s nearing the end of summer camp: August of 1988.
It’s the last day of camp, actually, and the counselors are sitting around a fire talking about the events from earlier in the day. This is where the first bit of mythology is introduced…and it’s in canon.
Brad, you know, if you hadn’t saved him? You coulda ended up dead too.
(at Kevin and Weezer)
And you guys. And all of us.
What do you mean? Dead how?
You know the story about the murders that happened around here, right? I mean, the details?
At the original Camp Crystal Lake – right across the lake – there was this lady who cleaned the cabins. This was in, like, ‘66. Her husband had run off a few years back, so she’d bring her little boy along and have the counselors watch him. The counselors didn’t know much about her. Just her name… Pamela Vorley.
He pauses, letting the name hang in the air. Until, quietly:
Voorhees. Her name was Pamela Voorhees. And she was a cook.
Pamela Voorhees was a single mom trying to make ends meet. During the school year, she worked as a lunch-lady, and over the summer she cooked at the camp. And one day, the counselors weren’t watching her little boy, and… he drowned in the lake. That boy was all she had. People stopped seeing her around, except at church. And at the camp, you know, ‘66, free love and all that… she’d seen the counselors smoking weed, sneaking into the woods to get it on…
Brad glances at Amber, raises his eyebrows.
And she got it in her head that’s why they weren’t paying attention when her son drowned. So when the camp reopened a year later… she came up here and killed six counselors before they stopped her.
They all start talking at once…
Didn’t they cut off her head?
This is where Antosca sets up a little red herring: “They say her ghost still haunts these woods,” Greg alleges. Is Pamela going to be in this Friday the 13th?
So, where did this happen? Across the lake, of course, at the old camp grounds. Kids being kids, they decide to go on a ghost hunt (not literally) and take a pair of canoes across to explore.
Before they cross, they come across the groundskeeper, KEVIN, who had earlier been hacking at a tree with a machete. Frank is one cool dude; after taking a hit off the kids’ roach, he adds to the mythology:
Frank… did you live in Crystal Lake when the murders happened?
I knew the kids who got killed.
Really? Did you know Mrs. Voorhees?
Nah, she kept to herself. Her and that kid. I’ll say this – kid was a reeeeal mama’s boy. Didn’t talk to anybody but her. And real shy. Most of the time you saw him, he’d be wearing some old Halloween mask.
Beat. Eerie lake sounds. A loon calls. Casually Frank says:
They never found his body, you know.
There’s two important moments in the dialogue, with the first obviously being the mention of Halloween masks, which offers a clear reason for why Jason would even wear a hockey mask. The other is a response to the 35-year-old question as to how Jason was a boy in the first film and then a hulking man in the sequel: he never died.
Continuing on, when the teens reach the rotted dock by the lakeshore, it plays out with the same impact as when the Jeep first enters the park in Jurassic Park – only here the entrance is marked by a rotted wood sign on the ground: “CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE”.
Here, the teens act like assholes, taunting Mrs. Voorhees with threats of ejaculate on the site of her death, while screaming obscenities and names.
Fucking lunchlady, smell like Salisbury steak… COME GET ME, BITCH! (imitating Full Metal Jacket) I will gouge out your eyes and skullfuck you! …Killing kids for smoking weed… FUCK YOU! FUCK YOUR DUMB KID THAT COULDN’T SWIM! Fuck your
fuckin… old… What was her name? Vorzazzle?
Voorhees. Pamela Voorhees.
FUCK YOU, PAMELA VOOORHEEES!!!
As his shout ECHOES through the night…
It’s the bomb under the table moment of Friday the 13th as the viewer knows damn well these kids have just disturbed Jason…and are going to pay for it.
While searching the cabins they come across a photo of a young Jason wearing a Mickey Mouse Mask. It’s dated 1965. Also discovered… a hockey mask from the same era.
When the kids walk back out, one of the canoes is missing. They assume Frank took it, and two volunteer to walk back. Vanessa and her local boyfriend, DYLAN, hit the road.
Even more taunting ensues on the canoe.
Vanessa and Dylan are being stalked. Is it Jason? The two go their separate ways, which creates immense tension as to whom is in severe trouble. It’s Dylan, who stumbles into Jason, falling backwards into a ridge and hurting himself badly. This is our almost first appearance of Jason (who is referred to as “THE KILLER” for most of the script):
Dylan glimpses A HUGE, STRANGELY PROPORTIONED FIGURE coming down the ridge. The figure’s movements are stiff, uncoordinated, as if it’s unused to its own body. Fuck.
Dylan grabs the flashlight, turns to turn it back on. It won’t work. He struggles with it frantically – and finally the light flickers back on –
JUST IN TIME TO SHINE IN THE HUGE FIGURE’S FACE – and we see this only from behind the Figure – his huge dark silhouetted head – and Dylan’s reaction of horrified surprise as –
– HUGE PALE HANDS LUNGE DOWN TO GRAB HIM, YANKING HIM OUT OF FRAME AS HE STARTS TO SCREAM –
Back at the camp (later that night), Vanessa and Kevin find muddy foot prints and realize that someone followed them home – and is watching them. It’s an unnerving night, which ends up surprisingly uneventful. The next morning, the campers are sent home, which leaves the counselors with a few days to clean up their mess and close up shop.
Kevin and Vanessa go into town to tell the Sheriff about the potential intruder. They’re met with scoffs and disdain, which lead to another dose of mythology and some headscratching…is the Sheriff just fucking with them?
People say it’s haunted by this, that ‘n the other thing. Old Miz Voorhees or her boy that died, or the kids she killed. But the weirdest one is how… well, that boy that died… didn’t actually die. That he ran off to live in the woods up there. And he’s been there ever since… but every now and then… (leans in ominously)… he comes down to find himself a pretty girl or two.
This sets the stage for another Jason appearance; this time jamming a shovel into the chest of the camp’s director, DUCKWORTH.
Transition to the camp at night with the Guns N’ Roses cover of “Knockin On Heaven’s Door” playing over their shenanigans.
Greg is wearing the hockey mask as he hits golf balls into the lake. He tosses it in with the final ball. As the song fades, the camera closes in on the mask floating in the water.
With Vanessa and Kevin back, the group discuss the possible stalker and decide to prepare themselves, you know, just in case. Baseball bats.
They have a discussion about WHO it could be. There’s no way it’s Jason, right?
What if it was true, though?? If that little boy was still living out there? He’d be like, insane.
Or he might be totally chill…
Pretty sure people actually saw the boy drown.
So how come they never found him?
It’s a deep lake, I don’t know.
Or he’s been just out there in the woods all this time… all alone… getting weird… making love to small woodland animals…
Sloane addresses the paradox of Friday the 13th‘s mythology while targeting the logic loophole that never seems to be answered:
Dude. The kid drowned. No one ever doubted it, including his mother. It makes literally no sense that he didn’t drown and he’s been “living out in the woods.” That’s ridiculous.
Meanwhile, an extremely stoned Weezer is hanging by the water slide on the dock. “He puts his legs in and shoves off, entering the tunnel…HURTLING down the slide toward the lake – when – THUMP!! Something SLICES UP THROUGH the underside of the slide, just ahead at the mouth of it – Oh fuck, IT’S THE MACHETE BLADE!! Weezer can’t stop! – the blade is angled at him and he’s hurtling right at it! -” The machete has sliced through his pelvis and lodged against his hipbone. He lifts himself off the machete he’s impaled on and attempts an escape, only to be dragged underwater by Jason. It’s one of the most “fun” kills, although still brutal.
Weezer’s mangled body parts eventually float ashore, which are discovered by Kevin, thus turning the level of urgency to 10. This is when shit hits the fan – and it’s unrelenting. It’s also the moment when we first see Jason donning the iconic mask:
“The man is a good fifty yards away. SMOKE from the campfire is blowing across the view, partially obscuring him. Making him look almost… mythic.”
Jason starts his attack, walking behind cabins and appearing closer each time… until he charges at full sprint and rams the machete through Greg. This causes the teenagers to scatter, and Jason begins his hunt. One of the cooler moments is when Jason slams Kevin against a tree, with the highlight being Kirby’s attempted canoe escape that ends short when Jason throws a giant rock in it, causing it to sink.
Antosca does something here that I love in a slasher film (it’s also pertinent for its success), he allows the victims to get their licks in. Jason is hit by a car, shot multiple times, and even hammered with an axe (forcing him to fall onto a campfire). It appears to do some damage and he runs into the woods.
Sloane, Brad and Vanessa attempt to save Kirby, who is now stranded on a floating deck. This is when Jason returns. Sloane plays dead as he approaches. Just as Jason begins to lift Sloane’s head, Kirby slides in the water to create a distraction, causing Jason to turn his attention towards her. Here’s the big holy fuck moment that would have blown audiences’ minds – Jason drags both Duckworth and Weezer’s corpses into the lake with him. Jason walked into the lake until he’s completely underwater, never to resurface. As Kirby attempts to escape, she’s pulled underwater where she sees “the bodies of her dead friends. Kevin, Amber, Dylan, Greg, Weezer, Duckworth, Nurse Nicole… all gathered lifeless in the weeds at the bottom of the lake, suspended there… an eerie, surreal image…”
More new mythology to mixed in with exposition.
It’s the boy who drowned. He’s dead. He’s been in the lake. And we woke him up.
Brad and Vanessa share a look: They think she’s lost it.
He’s um, he’s not – he’s not a person and you can’t kill him, cuz he’s already dead, he’s –
Jason returns to the original Camp Crystal Lake, and doesn’t appear to be injured anymore. If anything he moves with more confidence, as if he has grown stronger (recharged by the powers of the Lake?).
The battle continues at the house of LINDA KING (which is behind the old camp grounds), a survivor of the original murders. There’s a brutal battle where Linda, Brad, Sloane and Vanessa trade off stabbing him with a butcher knife, hitting him with an axe and shooting him with a nail gun. Jason slowly begins to give in. Brad grabs a fireplace poker and jams it into Jason’s eye until he’s deader than dead.
Shh, there you go… this is for Kevin, you fuckin hick… there you go… now you’re dead…
Now on Main Street, the police are cleaning up the mess and trying to make sense of the madness. Brad, Vanessa and Sloane are speaking with Sheriff John. They can’t believe Jason’s finally dead; they were beginning to believe he was immortal. The Sheriff points out that Jason is dead as a doornail in a morgue van that begins to pull away… it all of a sudden rolls off course and crashes into a tree.
FRIDAY THE 13TH IS FAR FROM OVER.
BAM! The back of the van fucking FLIES OPEN –
And The Killer steps out. AKA…
PUSH IN SLOWLY ON THIS NIGHTMARE HERO SHOT.
JASON LOOMING. ICONIC… BADASS… TERRIFYING.
He’s holding a fucking BONE SAW. Behind him, the inside of the van is COVERED IN BLOOD. And maybe it’s just the angle, but he almost looks bigger than before. As if “dying” made him even stronger.
At this point Jason has become unstoppable, and straight up annihilates the entire police force. It’s a horror apocalypse. Jason even murders an innocent bystander who’s at the wrong place at the wrong time.
There appears to be one way to slow Jason down: Sloane had found a bracelet earlier that allegedly belonged to Pamela Voorhees. She attempts to distract him with said bracelet, but Jason doesn’t fall for it. Just as he’s about to kill Sloane, Vanessa surprises the audience by blowing half of Jason’s face off with a 2 gauge shotgun. Sloane blasts Jason with the cop’s handgun, slowing him down just enough to get away in a police car. The duo run over Jason, multiple times, and hot-tail it out of town. “As they drive out of town, Sloane looks back and Vanessa glances in the rearview and they see… Jason just getting back up. And putting his mask back on.”
There is no ending because Jason is eternal.
For fans disappointed we never got our followup to the Friday the 13th remake, the real epilogue sets up a snowy sequel…again.
Again, the above was the first pass at the new direction, and my breakdown doesn’t do it any justice. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Antosca’s Friday the 13th 3D could have ended up being the best Friday in the franchise. His writing style is one of the most immersive voices I’ve ever come across, and the settings were both iconic and unsettling. It was also impressive how he avoided winking to the audience, although it’s pretty obvious how much of a fickle bitch it was trying to make sense of Jason’s messy mythology. I would assume that further incarnations of the screenplay would have mixed the mythology into situations a little better, and feel less expositional.
It was also pretty clear that 3-D would have been completely unnecessary.
What’s more perplexing is that the studio allegedly moved on to create a modern take. In reading this script, there’s absolutely no reason that it couldn’t have been modernized and still been in canon. It’s unfortunate, though, because the 80’s vibe was magical; while we shared a few samples of proposed music, the screenplay was littered with 80’s tracks used uniquely in situations that helped everything feel organic. It truly would have been Friday the 13th meets Dazed and Confused.
It regards to the film’s protagonist, it was an interesting move to have not one, but two final girls – and to break the cliché that it had to be the virgin. I loved how Antosca used horror tropes against hardcore genre fans who typically know what’s coming next.
As for Jason, Antosca did the best he could with the mythology in order to keep it in canon. The script proposes that Jason did in fact drown, but was reborn out of the lake when his mother was killed. The continual mentions of spirits and ghosts makes me believe that this Jason would have been a physical manifestation of a tormented spirit. It’s possible/probable that this group of teens were Jason’s first victims. It’s also eluded to that, when Jason reenters the lake, he’s regenerated – and the more bodies he drags to the bottom of the lake, the stronger he gets. I’m enamored with the idea that the film begins with Warrington Gillette’s Friday the 13th Part 2 Jason and eventually morphs into Kane Hodder’s interpretation. Shit, if the studio decided to go this route, there’s no reason that Hodder couldn’t have returned in the role that made him famous…
The next Friday the 13th is going to be the 13th installment in the franchise. It deserves to be something special, and what I read felt like the Ultimate Jason Quentin Tarantino teased over a decade ago. That’s probably the problem the studio had with the new approach – it’s excessively violent and unrelenting. It’s almost too fan friendly in its attempt to remain in canon. We can only pray that whatever comes next doesn’t revert back to the simplicity of the 2009 remake that is, quite frankly, uninspired.
What do you guys think? There’s a lot more to discuss here than with the Halloween Returns script.