I’m quite a big fan of horror. I like existential, otherworldly scares, I like eldritch beings, I like terrifying and unspeakable terrors of the night. Yet still, there’s a part of me that really loves the trash. I don’t mean the bad horror, but I mean the grisly, tasteless cinematic splatters of filth that makes up the Slasher Genre. Anything from Maniac Cop to Hatchet, I’m a fan of copious amounts of nudity and a tasteless bodycount every now and then. And no franchise has done pure, distilled and disgusting violence quite like Friday the 13th.
Friday the 13th is a flick that I think would be pretty easy to adapt into a video game, as there are plenty of titles that can just be repainted to fit the Friday the 13th theme. It’d be easy to just take Outlast and slap Jason on it, or just set niche hits like Clock Tower or Until Dawn in Camp Crystal Lake. Yet the official game, creatively titled Friday the 13th, isn’t like that. Instead, it’s something a bit more strange. A competitive multiplayer title.
At first glance, you might not think that’d work in the slightest. There’s not a lot of room for genuine scares when the slasher hunting you down has the username of [email protected]$HXx, but when you look at the essence of Friday the 13th and what makes the films so popular, it really clicks. See, Friday the 13th isn’t the sort of franchise to focus on actual bone chilling terror, it’s more horror of the fun variety. Sure, Jason may provide scares to the young, but once you hit your teens the slasher genre turns into less genuine scares and more ridiculous gory fun. You may jump or wince when Jason pops out of nowhere, but those screams are usually followed by a chorus of laughs. It’s less of a true creepshow and more of a barrel of blood-soaked fun. And that’s exactly what it seems like Friday the 13th is going to be.
Friday the 13th is casting players as either a walking horror movie trope (such as “The Girl Next Door,” “The Stoner,” or “The Jock”) who must fight off another player, who is controlling the man behind the mask himself, Jason Voorhees. So while the other players scramble for defenses or hide, the lucky player in the role of Jason will be able to use their environment however they please to systematically butcher the game’s characters. There’s no sanity meter, melodramatic narration, or unexpected fourth wall breaks. It’s just pure bloody, trashy mayhem, a callback to days gone by of TV horror marathons and stacks of VHS tapes.
Not only does it have a creative concept and a strong grasp on the franchise’s tone, I get the sense that the developers truly love the Friday the 13th franchise. The game’s kickstarter page from 2015 was filled with stretch goals mentioning fanservice gold, such as a Jason X inspired map or the possibility of Tommy Jarvis’ appearance. While not every stretch goal was met, just that impressive list showed off how much the development team knows and appreciates the franchise.
It doesn’t hurt that there’s an all-star cast working on the game to make it as believable as possible. Kane Hodder is reprising his role as Jason Voorhees to motion capture every crazy kill and stunt just as he would back in the glory days of slashers. Legendary special effects artist Tom Savini is also helping out with the kills, trying to make sure every movement would be achievable in real life without the use of CGI to try and keep Jason’s actions authentic. Even series creator Sean S. Cunningham is on-board, so even in the unlikely case that the game’s a mess, it’s still guaranteed to be an authentic Friday the 13th experience.
It’s true, historically licensed games haven’t been very good, and this goes double for horror franchises. We’ve suffered through enough terrible Evil Dead, Nightmare on Elm Street, and yes, even Friday the 13th games to last a lifetime, but with such an obviously passionate team of Friday the 13th fans on board, I’m confident that even in the worst case scenario, Friday the 13th will be a fantastic tribute to what makes the franchise so beloved.