The Friday the 13th movies are iconic 80s slashers, and the prequel series Crystal Lake can take advantage of this fact to beat its competition.
The upcoming Friday the 13th prequel series Crystal Lake has already outdone most slasher franchise re-imaginings thanks to the show’s ingenious period setting. Although many slasher reboots have attempted to breathe new life into franchises that began in the 80s, few of these projects have been set during the decade itself. 80s nostalgia has contributed to the phenomenal popularity of horror shows like Stranger Things, but none of the franchise reboots that bring back the decade’s slashers have been set during the period—until now.
Producer Bryan Fuller’s Friday the 13th prequel series Crystal Lake will fill in the backstory of the slasher franchise’s iconic villain Jason Voorhees, and since the original movie’s backstory occurred in the 50s, there is a good chance that this updated take on the franchise will be set in the 80s. While Crystal Lake may still be set in the 50s, the fact that the blockbuster movie adaptation of IT changed the novel’s setting from the 50s to the 80s, alongside the success of American Horror Story: 1984 and the Fear Street series, makes it likely that the prequel will cash in on 80s nostalgia by taking advantage of its best potential setting.
Crystal Lake’s 80s Setting Is Its Best Asset
While the Fear Street trilogy was set (partially) in the 80s, the Netflix series was not a reboot of an existing slasher franchise. Thus, setting Friday the 13th’s reboot in the 80s would allow Crystal Lake to take advantage of 80s nostalgia while adding to a franchise that shaped that nostalgia in the first place. In recent years, IT, Stranger Things, X, The Final Girls, and Summer of 84 have all used their 80s settings (or, in the case of X, 1979 setting) to lean into nostalgia for the decade’s horror movie aesthetic. But, surprisingly, reboots of popular 80s horror franchises did not follow suit.
2019’s Child’s Play reboot, as well as the unrelated SyFy series Chucky, were both set in contemporary times, as was the new Halloween trilogy. Everything from 2022’s Hellraiser reboot to 2013’s Evil Dead, to 2010’s Nightmare OnElm Street, to the divisive sequel Halloween Ends was set in the current day despite the popularity of 80s horror. Fortunately, Crystal Lake can buck this trend by setting a reboot of a quintessentially 80s story during the decade. Like Fear Street, Crystal Lake could re-interrogate the social and cultural norms of the decade through a contemporary lens, but this would be even more effective thanks to the show’s canon connection to the Friday the 13th movies.
Why Crystal Lake Can Outdo Its Competition
The Friday the 13th movies of the 80s are the sort of slasher sequels that critics spoke about when they complained about the sub-genre’s worst excesses. Friday the 13th’s 80s sequels killed off teens who had sex, rewarded virginal Final Girls, and mostly followed the slasher blueprint to a tee. While Fear Street: 1978 effectively subverted this formula, Crystal Lake could outdo the earlier hit since the prequel series is part of the Friday the 13th franchise. If Crystal Lake takes a set of horny camp counselors and bullying teens to an 80s summer camp, infuses the stock stereotypes with more humanity and depth than viewers expect, then kills them off, the Friday the 13th spinoff could utilize its period setting for maximum dramatic impact.