Franchise maintenance can be a tricky enterprise. After emerging as a proven hit and an established brand, a movie franchise has to play to what works while also figuring out ways to constantly reinvent, all the better to avoid becoming stagnant. That’s a delicate balancing act, and one that only the very best series manage to pull off; take, for example, the Fast and the Furious series, which recently traded long-time director Justin Lin for The Conjuring wunderkind James Wan, while also sticking with the films’ most recognizable element – its cast.
Currently, the legendary Friday the 13th series is going through its own changing of the guard, after petering out and firing back up in fits and spurts during the aughts. Home to the iconic hockey mask-bedecked, machete-wielding, backwoods immortal, Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th has struggled with a crisis of identity (and green-lights) since the 90s; recently, rights to the property wound up in the hands of Paramount, and the studio has begun working in earnest to get a new film in theaters by 2015.
Their biggest challenge: making Friday the 13th, a franchise that’s 80s to its core, relevant in the new decade, and so far, their big ideas for bringing Jason into the 2010s – including use of the divisive found footage trope and even possibly cutting Jason out of the story – seem more likely to alienate fans rather than excite them. But that just makes The Wrap‘s recent announcement that Paramount is courting David Bruckner, a contributing filmmaker on 2012 horror anthology V/H/S, for the directing gig all the more exciting.
V/H/S, for those who missed it, follows a group of young thugs who end up facing the stuff of gibbering nightmares face-on when they break into an abandoned home to retrieve an old VHS tape. (Hence the name of the film.) While the experiment has its ups and downs (you can read our review here), Bruckner’s segment, titled “Amateur Night”, wound up being one of the best-received of the bunch, in large part due to his skill at operating in the found footage style of filmmaking – to say nothing of its efficacy in the scares department.
While Bruckner isn’t yet a sure thing, it’s encouraging that Paramount is looking to new, hungry young voices in horror, rather than studio directors, as a source of inspiration. If there’s one way to reinvigorate a franchise that’s struggling to find its way, it’s calling upon fresh talent to give it a shot in the arm; while Bruckner only has V/H/S and one feature-length film under his belt (2007’s excellent The Signal), he’s already shown that he knows what he’s doing behind the camera. A big-ticket project like Friday the 13th would give him even more exposure and take his career to the next level.
If there’s one big “tell” about this little development, it’s that Paramount may actually be giving serious thought to the idea of making Friday the 13th XIII using a found footage lens. That’s not at all official, of course, so take this as the purest of speculation – but it’s certainly a possibility, and should that come to pass, Bruckner becomes an even better potential choice. Now all we can do is sit back and see what transpires, but missing out on having Bruckner at the reigns would feel like a real lost opportunity.
Friday the 13th opens on March 13, 2015.
Source: The Wrap