Welcome back to Crystal Lake in a chilling re-imagining of the classic horror film "Friday the 13th."
Searching for his missing sister, Clay Miller (Jared Padalecki) heads up to the eerie woods of legendary Crystal Lake, where he stumbles on the creaky remains of rotting old cabins behind moss-covered trees.
And that's not the only thing lying in wait under the brush.
Against the advice of police and cautions from the locals, Clay pursues what few leads he has in the search for his missing sister, Whitney (Amanda Righetti), with the help of Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), a young woman he meets among a group of college kids up for an all-thrills weekend. But they are all about to find much more than they bargained for.
Little do they know, they've entered the domain of one of the most terrifying specters in American film history--the infamous killer who haunts Crystal Lake, armed with a razor-sharp machete… Jason Voorhees.
"Friday the 13th" is directed by Marcus Nispel and stars Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Righetti, Travis Van Winkle, and Derek Mears as Jason. The movie is produced by Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, who together produced "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Amityville Horror," and original "Friday the 13th" producer/director Sean Cunningham.
Nispel directed the film from a screenplay by Damian Shannon & Mark Swift, based on a story by Damian Shannon & Mark Swift and Mark Wheaton.
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
"Somebody go missin' round here, they gone for good."
"What you do when you make a movie like this is ask yourself, 'What is it about the mythology that makes people want to watch it over and over again?'" says director Marcus Nispel. "Then you make sure you give them what they want, but not exactly what they expect. That's what makes it fun."
"Jason Voorhees, Darth Vader, Freddy Krueger… there are a few villains that just stick with you," states star Jared Padalecki. "You're interested in what they'll do next, what other havoc can they wreak. Even if you haven't seen the movies, you've heard of them, you've heard of 'Friday the 13th.' It's all about Jason."
After the success of 2003's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," Platinum Dunes producers Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller reunited with Nispel to bring a new "Friday the 13th" to the screen.
"Because 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' was so successful," notes Fuller, "Michael and Drew and I sat down and said, 'Are there any other titles that we loved when we were growing up?' That's when 'Friday the 13th' came into our minds."
"We all felt it would be great to take the character of Jason Voorhees and bring him back to the screen," adds Form.
"We are horror fans first and producers second and we all grew up with and loved the 'Friday the 13th' films," informs Fuller. "They were fantastic and a lot of fun in their own way. They really created a subgenre within the horror genre that struck a cord with audiences. So when you are presented with the opportunity to make a movie like this, it's impossible to say no if you truly are a fan."
Fuller expounds, "The greatest thing about the films was the experience of sitting in a theater with other people and being scared out of my mind. I went to a summer camp in Maine and one of the big reasons most people get so scared watching the films is because so many of us have had a summer camp experience or have gone camping."
On Friday, June 13, 1958, two Camp Crystal Lake counselors slip away from the campfire gathering of friends for an illicit rendezvous, where they are discovered and murdered by an unseen assailant. More than two decades later, the refurbished camp is preparing to reopen. The town loon warns that "Camp Blood," as he calls it, has a death curse, but the caretaker and his young counselors ignore the mysterious lore, only to be gruesomely murdered by Pamela Voorhees, a woman whose young son, Jason, drowned in 1957. Only one counselor would survive to tell the tale of their 24-hour nightmare of terror that shocked and horrified audiences in the 1980 film "Friday the 13th."
The stark, in-your-face violence of the movie broke the mold as one of the forerunners of a new and different age of horror film and quickly became an instant classic as well as a box office sensation. The subsequent franchise, one of the highest-grossing horror franchises of all time, expanded beyond the big screen to include a television show, novels, comic books, video games and more. The film's iconic villain and the visage of his trademark hockey mask became part of modern pop culture. Platinum Dunes producing partners Bay, Form and Fuller felt the franchise was ripe for revamping.
A dynamic force on the set of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," director Marcus Nispel has a unique creative process that "really worked the first time," recalls Fuller. "Marcus has a great sense of style and by re-teaming with cinematographer Daniel Pearl, we all felt that the movie was going to have a unique, beautiful, rich look."
Fuller continues, "Marcus completely understands the timing of the scare, probably better than anyone else today. It may not seem like a complex thing, but it's like a comedy director who knows exactly where to put the joke. He also infuses the film with frenetic energy."
"I said to them, 'Whatever you do, bring the fun back and find a way to incorporate an underground system for Jason to operate from,'" explains Nispel. "I liked that idea because I don't think summer camps in general are particularly scary in this day and age--you needed something more."
"Friday the 13th" is the producing team's seventh title to date and, with all the horror genre success under their banner, Fuller and Form felt it was critical to find writers who were really connected to the franchise.
"We were very lucky that writers Damian Shannon and Mark Swift, who had written 'Freddy vs. Jason,' were excited to take the ride," says Fuller. "We knew they cared as much about Jason and his legacy as we did and were confident that they would deliver a script that took all of the best elements of the first few films and combined them with some fresh, inventive stuff. They really nailed it."
"When the script came in, I loved it," comments Nispel. "It's still the same terrifying Jason, only they reveal aspects that hadn't been shown so far."
For screenwriters Shannon and Swift, revamping one of the most recognizable horror villains ever meant going back to the franchise's roots. "We felt it was important to go back to the basics and put Jason back in the woods again," reveals Swift.
"Our idea was to make the story much grittier than in recent years, with a fast and loose Jason like never seen before," adds Shannon. "We wanted to make him someone who was actually in the woods surviving off the land like a real human being would."
"We wanted the character to be territorial, like a hunter," injects Shannon. "It's not like he's just going around killing people randomly. If you invade his territory, he's going to protect his turf and you're going to pay an awful price."
Nispel appreciated the writers' respectful take. "They would never refer to Jason as the monster or the villain. He is the anti-hero. And that is what draws me to these kinds of characters. I'm not generally that interested in supernatural characters. What's scary for me is that somebody like Leatherface or Jason could be my neighbor."
For Shannon and Swift, as well as the filmmakers, one of the biggest challenges in writing and developing the screenplay was deciding where to start the film and what to include from the 11 previous films.
"It's a lot of pressure to re-launch a franchise like this because you really have two different audiences to please." says Fuller. "There are the fans who already know the stories and are going to come to see it because of the curiosity factor. Then you have to try to also capture those who weren't necessarily fans of the title, but who love a good horror film. We felt that a way to serve both those audiences was to give them something they haven't seen before, but also tie it in with iconic moments from the original films."
Once the script was in place, the filmmakers focused on casting a young ensemble of actors to play the college kids who unwittingly enter into the realm of a murderer.
The first character the filmmakers had to cast was Clay Miller, the young man looking for his sister, who has gone missing after a weekend camping trip. Jared Padalecki, who currently stars on the television show "Supernatural," was selected for the role.
"Clay's sister left on bad terms and has been missing for over a month, and he just wants to find out for himself what happened," explains Padalecki. "He knocks on the door of a lake house and he ends up getting entangled with a group of young kids who are there for the weekend."
"Jared Padalecki was the first person cast in the film and it really set the tone," says producer Brad Fuller.
"We were already fans of Jared's from 'Supernatural,'" notes Andrew Form. "He's really talented and hardworking, plus he's a big guy, so we knew we had someone who could probably give the villain a run for his money."
"I was in middle school when I saw the original "Friday The 13th" and I remember it scaring the life out of me," laughs Jared Padalecki. "When I found out they were remaking the movie, I was very excited about getting involved."
While looking for clues to the whereabouts of his missing sister, Clay meets Jenna, who is on a weekend getaway with her friends. Played by Danielle Panabaker, "Jenna is ambiguously dating Trent, whose parents own a big cabin that she and several other friends go to for the weekend," says the actress. "She and Trent have not hooked up and she's not sure if it's something she wants to pursue. She's just there to have fun and hang out at a beautiful house by the lake."
"The character of Jenna is a little bit complicated. We need the viewer to like her, even though she goes to the lake house with one guy and ditches him for a different guy," explains Nispel.
The casting could have been tricky. "There's an incredible innocence to Danielle," says Form. "She's not naïve; she just has a wide-eyed view of the world, which was needed for Jenna. The character had to be likeable so audiences understand why she makes the choice that she does and love her for doing it."
Playing Jenna's would-be suitor, Trent, is Travis Van Winkle, who first caught the attention of the producers in a small role in Michael Bay's "Transformers." "Travis had worked with Michael and was the first person that we thought of to play Trent," reveals Form.
Fuller offers, "There are nuances to his performance that were not on the page, things that he did that really enhanced his character. Travis brought so much to it."
"Trent is a jerk," states director Nispel bluntly. "He is arrogant, but he has to be likeable at the same time, if such a thing exists."
"Trent is really trying to score, so he figures if he brings a bunch of friends up to his parents' lake house for a big blowout, he will be able to finally hook up with this particular girl," explains Van Winkle. "Unfortunately things don't quite work out the way he planned."
For Van Winkle, the opportunity to be in the re-launch of "Friday The 13th" was one he couldn't pass up. "Are you kidding me? I was all over it," the actor enthuses. "It's Jason! The hockey mask! All I wanted was to have an awesome death scene."
While Jason terrorizes the woods around Crystal Lake, the characters of Lawrence and Chewie, played by Arlen Escarpeta and Aaron Yoo, bring some comic relief to the film as a pair of best friends who never miss an opportunity to keep the party going and the one-liners flowing.
"Chewie is the jester of the film," laughs Aaron Yoo. "Someone told me back in the day that in a movie like this, there's something necessary about watching a clown die. The first time Arlen and I met the producers they said, 'You don't really have to do anything scary in the movie, just be funny. If you're not funny, we'll throw you in a meat compactor and send you home.'" Yoo hoped they were kidding, but in a horror movie, he couldn't be sure.
"Chewie and I are the new-age Wonder Twins and when we get together, it's just total debauchery," offers Escarpeta. "Lawrence and Chewie together is the ultimate combo--it's like getting the burgers, the fries and all the calories that come with it. We taste great but we're so bad for you," grins the actor. "Anybody we can get our hands on in the movie, we're either poking fun at them or making fun of someone else with them. We're frat guys without being in a fraternity. We're our own fraternity."
"Both Arlen and Aaron were able to make their roles even funnier and more organic than was on the page," comments Form.
Taking the role of Clay's missing sister, Whitney, is Amanda Righetti from the hit TV show "The Mentalist." "I was quite young when the first films came out, but I remember the character of Jason very well," comments Righetti. "When I auditioned for the role, they didn't let me read the script, so it really was a leap of faith. After I got the part and read it, I was really excited because I thought Whitney had an unusual character arc that I didn't expect. The script was innovative and fresh and you don't really know who is going to live and who is going to die, which will keep the audience guessing."
"Amanda's a tough girl and has the guts and the gumption to get up and go when the time comes," admires Form. "She takes it very seriously and brings a level of commitment to the character that I love."
While Nispel and the filmmakers were busy assembling the cast of characters who find themselves at the mercy of a psychotic killer, they also had to decide who would brandish the machete and slip on the iconic hockey mask, effectively becoming the new Jason Voorhees. During the almost 30-year history of the franchise, there have been several actors who have played the character. This time around, the filmmakers chose actor and stuntman Derek Mears to portray the genre's instantly recognizable villain.
"When we talked about who would play Jason, we all agreed we wanted an imposing actor," says director Nispel. "We had already hired Jared Padalecki, who is six-foot-four, so we knew we needed a very big actor as well as a stunt double to do the stunts for the actor playing Jason."
"When Derek stood in the room and you could see exactly how he's built and how he moves, we knew he was Jason," remembers Form. "He had the exact build we were looking for and it was a blessing that he was also a stuntman. We were much more interested in his acting because it was really important for us that he was not mechanical in any way. We wanted a real actor behind the mask and Derek took that very seriously."
"I grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons, collecting comic books, and I loved horror and sci-fi films," says Derek Mears. "'Friday the 13th' is one of my favorites. It's such an honor to play Jason Voorhees, and I feel a tremendous responsibility to the fans."
"Derek really transcended the character and put so much care and meticulous thought into his performance," says director Marcus Nispel. "He brought an intensity and fluidity to the character that audiences have never seen before. I really hope that moviegoers have the vision to look behind the mask; he adds so much that comes through and it really elevates the film."
"Casting our films is something that is very personal for me," admits producer Brad Fuller. "Some of the actors in the film we had met before and were on a list of people we wanted to work with. Each one of the actors we have cast has a piece of themselves in the character that they're playing."
The Many Faces of Jason…
A big challenge for the filmmakers and the writing team in developing the film was deciding on what Jason would wear to cover his deformed face. In the long history of the franchise, Jason first appeared in the final frames of the original film, jolting audiences out of their seats with his shocking leap out of Crystal Lake. In the second film, fans turned out in droves to watch the popular villain don a burlap sack. It wasn't until the third installment of the franchise that Jason put on the hockey mask that would propel him to a new level of pop culture status.
The filmmakers made the decision early in the scriptwriting process to have Jason begin the film wearing the burlap sack from "Friday the 13th Part 2," giving fans a chance to see how he finds what has become the character's calling card: the well-worn hockey mask.
"We decided early on that we didn't want to turn it on its ear and create a mask that people were not used to," notes Fuller. "And we wanted to add our own sack like the one Jason wore in the second film. It's such a great visual."
"It was exciting for us to create a moment where you see Jason discover the mask," states screenwriter Mark Swift.
Fuller agrees. "We all felt that if you're going to make this film, it must include that moment when he takes off the sack and puts on the hockey mask and becomes Jason."
"Hopefully fans will dig it," says Swift. "It's really a scene that we wrote to be that 'wow' moment in the film."
Creating the look of both the mask and the sack was entrusted to special effects makeup supervisor Scott Stoddard and his gifted team.
"Scott was the first person we hired on this film," says Andrew Form. "He did amazing work for us before and is just an incredibly talented artist."
"Scott created a new version of the sack that we all fell in love with the first time we saw it," adds producer Fuller. "We knew the mask was the look everyone knows, but we thought it would be a perfect combination if he could wear both."
Stoddard notes, "I'm a big fan of 'The Elephant Man' and Jason is actually kind of a tragic figure like John Merrick, so I asked Tim Jarvis to make a hole that Jason sees out of that is a little bit square, and crudely stitched together. Tim did an amazing job making it and I think fans will really like the look."
For Stoddard and his team, coming up with Jason's overall look was born out of respect. "We definitely wanted to keep him more human," offers Scott, "because, within every serial killer, there's a history to the sociopath they become, and Jason has a great history."
For Derek Mears, seeing Stoddard's handiwork for the first time was something the actor would not soon forget. "The first time I strapped on the mask in Scott's make-up shop in Los Angeles, I got chills." reveals Mears. "Everyone in the shop stopped what they were doing and looked over. I felt like I was lifting Excalibur, and all I could see were heads looking at each other and smiling from ear to ear. It was an amazing moment for me."
Stoddard himself transported the hockey mask from Los Angeles to Austin for the film shoot. It was an adventure. "I hand-carried Jason's hockey mask in a special silver case because I was too afraid to send it any other way," explains Stoddard. "I was going through airport security when two guards came around and asked me to follow them. They took me to a special room and opened the case and said, 'Is that the Jason mask? We're really big fans--can you take it out and let us see it?'"
Another element that the filmmakers wanted to bring back was the carefree "sex, drugs and rock & roll" attitude that permeated the early films. "We really wanted to bring the fun back to the franchise," says producer Form. "We wanted to have young college kids having a blast being kids. It's a wonderfully vivacious group of kids who are a lot of fun to watch, even as they experience all these horrific scares."
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