Movie Reviews

I'm So Disappointed A24 Canceled Its Friday The 13th TV Show – It Sounded Perfect


  • Bryan Fuller’s
    Crystal Lake
    won’t happen, but the potential for a new take on the
    Friday the 13th
    franchise is undeniable.
  • Top horror talent and ambitious storytelling could have humanized Pamela and Jason Voorhees in a unique way.
  • Issues in production led to Fuller stepping down, leaving fans wondering about the fate of
    Crystal Lake

Although Bryan Fuller’s Crystal Lake hasn’t been completely canceled, I’m still heartbroken to hear that the showrunner’s ambitious Friday the 13th series is being retooled. The Friday the 13th franchise has been in turmoil for decades now, but I’ve never given up on Jason’s potential. The series started strong with 1980’s original Friday the 13th, a cheaply made summer camp slasher that combined Halloween’s formula with a Giallo twist. The villain was kept a mystery until Friday the 13th’s ending revealed it was Pamela Voorhees, the mother of a child who drowned at the campsite.

In the years that followed, Pamela’s son, Jason Voorhees, took many different forms as he repeatedly returned to life, murdered a new group of interchangeable young characters, and was defeated by another final girl. Jason was central to the success of the Friday the 13th series, visiting Manhattan, going to space in Jason X, and even receiving a remake in 2009. However, despite the financial success of that outing, the character hasn’t been seen onscreen in the fifteen years that followed. That seemed like it was finally set to change in 2022 when A24 announced Crystal Lake, a prequel series.


Friday The 13th Full Movie Franchise Timeline Explained

Friday the 13th is one of the most iconic slasher franchises of all time, but the order of events in Jason Voorhees’ murderous life is confusing.

A24’s Crystal Lake Sounded Like The Perfect Friday The 13th TV Series

The Ambitious Prequel Involved Some Top Shelf Horror Talent

Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller planned for Crystal Lake to explore the backstory of Jason Voorhees, and every new announcement about the series made it more exciting. However, it was revealed in May 2024 that Fuller had left the series due to creative differences, and a recent report from The Wrap extensively chronicles the issues the show’s pre-production process faced. Understandably, Fuller stepped down given the multi-faceted problems the show had, but the more I read about Crystal Lake, the sadder I was to let go of the showrunner’s vision.

According to The Wrap’s reporting, Fuller’s version of Crystal Lake was an incredibly ambitious horror series that would have enlisted the talents of directors like Cube’s Vincenzo Natali and Boys Don’t Cry’s Kimberly Peirce. One episode was written by the legendary Scream scribe Kevin Williamson. Additionally, the creators were eyeing Charlize Theron for the role of Pamela Voorhees, and Crystal Lake broadly sounded like a sincere attempt to humanize Jason Voorhees and give him a compelling origin story. I would have loved to see this come to fruition.

Williamson is currently directing Neve Campbell’s franchise comeback,
Scream 7

Charlize Theron’s Potential Pamela Voorhees Casting Proves Crystal Lake’s Potential

The Oscar Winner Could Have Made Jason’s Mother More Sympathetic

Charlize Theron's Clea meeting Doctor Strange in 2022's Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

While Jason Lives! director Tommy McLoughlin’s prequel The Secret Diary of Pamela Voorhees already explored the backstory of Jason’s mother, Crystal Lake had an incredibly high-profile star in mind for the role. From Monster to Dark Places, Theron has managed to humanize numerous morally grey protagonists, and the actor could have brought a new level of insight into the internal world of Friday the 13th’s original killer. The very fact that Crystal Lake was seeking out such a major star for this role proves that the series wanted to expand on Jason’s backstory in an emotionally resonant way.

Attempting to get Theron on board shows that Crystal Lake was committed to humanizing Pamela and, by extension, her hulking, murderous son. The recent subversive slasher movie In A Violent Nature was praised for deconstructing Friday the 13th’s basic setup by focusing on its killer instead of their victims, but Crystal Lake could have taken this further. By making one of the oldest icons of slasher cinema into a more relatable human figure, Crystal Lake could have illuminated the humanity present in even the most implacably evil villains. This was an unabashedly ambitious vision I was excited to see realized.

Crystal Lake’s Best Unmade Episode Fulfilled A Decades-Old Franchise Promise

The Show Would Finally Have Offered A Winter-Set Friday the 13th Story By Kevin Williamson

As if the potential of Theron’s role wasn’t enough, Crystal Lake reportedly had an episode written by Kevin Williamson that would have finally brought a major Friday the 13th franchise promise to life. Williamson’s episode was called Crystal Lake’s “Red Wedding” by those close to the production, and the ambitious outing would repeatedly have taken place entirely on a frozen Crystal Lake. For decades, the series has failed to explore the obvious potential of the eponymous location during winter, when the isolated summer camp is empty, lonely, and frozen over. To me, Williamson’s episode sounds like a dream come true.

This would have marked the first time that the screenwriter, who penned acclaimed slashers like
Scream 2
I Know What You Did Last Summer
, and
, worked on a
Friday the 13th

The fact that none of the Friday the 13th movies have touched on this idea is bad enough, but what makes it worse is Williamson’s involvement. This would have marked the first time that the screenwriter, who penned acclaimed slashers like Scream, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer, and Sick, worked on a Friday the 13th project. Seeing Williamson join Crystal Lake would have been a full-circle moment after Scream’s opening scene saw its self-referential killer taunt an early victim for not knowing the identity of Pamela Voorhees. It’s an opportunity that I’m sad to see wasted.

Friday the 13th’s TV Show Was Set To Deconstruct The Franchise

Natali Called Crystal Lake A “Hannibal-Level Reinvention”

According to Natali, Crystal Lake was a “Hannibal-Level reinvention” that could have been “simultaneously beautiful, sad, poetic, funny and horrifying.” While Crystal Lake’s production felt cursed and its problems would have been tough to overcome, this co-sign makes it clear that the legendary showrunner was on the right track. As such, the death of Fuller’s version of Crystal Lake is a major loss for fans of the franchise, horror viewers, and anyone interested in a new take on one of the genre’s most familiar faces.

What Went Wrong With Crystal Lake’s Production

The Expensive Series Was Plagued By Behind-The-Scenes Problems

According to The Wrap, the end of Fuller’s version of Crystal Lake can be attributed to the same issues that have doomed many of Friday the 13th’s earlier canceled follow-ups. Bad decisions by executives, conflicts with writers, and fights between executives and showrunners all earn a mention in the report, and the ballooning budget and scope of the series also come into question. While new seasons of shows like Stranger Things and House of the Dragon have similarly huge budgets, horror-exclusive projects can be a harder sell to viewers.

Crystal Lake’s New Showrunner May “Jettison” The Show’s Plans

A Fresh Start Could Be Good For The Troubled Project

I would have shown up for Fuller’s take on Crystal Lake, but it is hard to be certain that the series would have been a financial success. A24 is now reportedly hoping for Channel Zero showrunner Nick Antosca to take over the project, although it is believed that Antosca would “jettison” Fuller’s plans if he takes over Crystal Lake. To be fair to Antosca, starting over sounds better than trying to replicate a project that was too ambitious and ending up with a small-scale imitation. Maybe Crystal Lake’s Friday the 13th spinoff is just too good to be true.

Source: The Wrap, Vincenzo Natali/X

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