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SYFY WIRE Friday the 13th

Where will Bryan Fuller's 'Crystal Lake' series take 'Friday the 13th'?

Let's take a closer look at the potential of this horror prequel project.

By Matthew Jackson
Friday the 13th (1980)

When news broke on Monday that Bryan Fuller — creator of classics like Pushing Daisies and Hannibal — would be taking on a Friday the 13th prequel series for Peacock, one of the first things Fuller himself did was post an image online of himself dressed as Pamela Voorhees.

The image is a playful response to the announcement of Crystal Lake, described as an "expanded prequel" to the classic slasher franchise, and it's not necessarily a clue to what we're going to see next. The plot details for the series are still secret, and at this point, we don't know how soon we'll learn much more about what's to come. That said, it's hard to imagine a storyteller like Fuller wouldn't be interested in digging deeper into the character previously played by Betsy Palmer in 1980's Friday the 13th, and imagining what he might do with Pamela Voorhees and what she was up to in the years before that camp massacre has us thinking deeper about the nature of a Friday prequel and the things it might be able to explore. 

So, where can Crystal Lake go with the story? Here are a few thoughts.

First, a quick refresher on the backstory: In the late 1950s, Jason Voorhees drowned in Crystal Lake while attending camp there, dying because the camp's neglectful counselors spent more time fooling around with each other than watching the kids. A year later, two camp counselors were murdered, and Camp Crystal Lake was shut down. Two decades passed, until Steve Christy and his family opted to try and refurbish Camp Crystal Lake with a new batch of counselors. They arrived at the camp in 1979 and started work on cleaning things up, only to be picked off one by one by a killer later revealed to be Jason's mother, Pamela, still mad with grief over what had happened to her son two decades earlier. Pamela was killed by the last surviving camper, and just a few months later, the adult version of her thought-dead son, Jason, arrived to seek revenge for her death. 

This setup prompts two immediate, very interesting questions that the prequel series could readily, and simultaneously, explore. The first is centered on Pamela and her years of grief and madness. This is a woman who lost her only son, almost immediately set out for revenge, and then spent the next 20 years essentially praying the camp stayed closed forever. When it reopened, she went on the rampage again immediately. With that in mind, are we to believe that Pamela spent 20 years in non-violent solitude? Maybe she wasn't massacring people left and right, but it's doubtful she spent those decades laying entirely dormant, waiting for the camp to reopen.

And even beyond that, there's the question of what her relationship with Jason was like in the first place. Who was she before she had Jason? What happened to the boy's father? A thousand other factors contribute to the killer Pamela becomes. There's even the little intriguing nugget of plot in which she mentions she's a friend of the Christy family, which is how she knew the camp would be re-opening in the first place. Has she been haunting this camp, disguised as a kind older woman, for years? Is she the reason Crazy Ralph tells anyone who dares go to Crystal Lake that they're doomed? These are all very worthy questions, and with the right actor in Pamela's shoes, they could make for an extremely compelling horror story. 

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Then, of course, there's the question of Jason himself, who emerges in the sequel as a full-grown adult killer mere months after his mother's death at Crystal Lake. He's built a kind of shrine to her in an abandoned shack somewhere on the property. Fans have been asking questions about this particular development for years, of course. Was Jason alive that whole time? Did he lose his memory when he nearly drowned and that's why he's been living in the woods? Did Pamela know he was alive somewhere? Was he already a supernatural being or just a guy who hid in the woods? 

There are a number of ways this portion of the story could go, but if the series is focused on Pamela and the time she spent in and around Crystal Lake before the killings in the first film, it makes sense that Jason might be a presence, but not an all-out direct influence in the story. At least, not beyond Pamela's own vision of who Jason is and was. Remember, in the original film, she lets Jason speak through her mouth. She claims his voice is calling for blood, for revenge. Imagine then, the story of a haunted woman who can't escape the loss of her little boy, who hears his voice in her head all the time, who still has a twisted relationship with him in her own mind, who's also somehow manifesting him as a supernatural figure in his own right somewhere out there in the forest. That's twisted, and rich, and the kind of thing Bryan Fuller could absolutely crush. 

So, if you're worried Crystal Lake somehow won't work as a prequel series, maybe put those worries to rest until the first episodes emerge. There's a lot of ground to cover here.

Looking for some scares before Crystal Lake premieres? Stream tons of great horror movies on Peacock