‘Crystal Lake Memories’ review: Dir. Daniel Farrands [Shudder Saturday]

Comprehensive is definitely a word that can be used to describe Daniel Farrands’ documentary, Crystal Lake Memories. Clocking in at just over six and a half hours, the film is an in-depth deep-dive into every chapter of Friday the 13th, including the television series and reboot. Made in 2013, Crystal Lake Memories has just been released on digital in the UK and arrives on Blu-ray on Monday 11th April. Whilst being almost ten years old, the fact that we’re still without another new outing for Voorhees and his machete means that the information the documentary presents is still relevant and hasn’t been instantly dated with the release of a fresh movie. 

Told through a mixture of newly captured interviews and archival footage, Crystal Lake Memories slowly journeys through every aspect of each film. But before it gets into that, there’s an amusing little opener where Corey Feldman and several other ex-Friday the 13th cast sit around a campfire as Feldman begins the story of the legend of Jason Vorhees. It’s a clever way to showcase some of the forthcoming talking heads (especially when it will take some time to get to many of them) whilst also fittingly homaging a scene that appeared in a few of the sequels. Once the documentary has been set up, Feldman moves into the role of narrator, beginning the arduous task of guiding the viewer through the gargantuan run-time. 

With the length so vast, for many (this writer included) viewing will be easier if broken down into segments. In fact, the lengthy duration is so expansive that it has been split across two discs. The split creates a slightly more digestible run time of around three hours per disc, with disc one exploring films one through five, and disc two tackling everything that came after. One of the reasons for such a long documentary (other than the amount of movies there are to examine) is that Farrands spends a significant amount of time with each chapter. There’s a temptation when looking at so much content, to focus on one or two films and gloss over the rest; however, in Crystal Lake Memories at least thirty minutes or so is taken to talk through each instalment. 

The longest time is perhaps spent with the first film as one might expect, and though this makes sense on paper, in practice it is a tad excessive. This is mainly due to the fact that there are plenty of other documentaries that have looked into the creation of that first film, which saw Jason’s mother Pamela Voorhees attack a group of teenagers. With Crystal Lake Memories clearly targeting Friday the 13th die-hards only, this section won’t throw up a whole lot of information that such fans won’t already know. Similarly, the first few sequels run so close to the original’s format that a horrible sensation of deja vu creeps in when watching. It’s only when the documentary arrives at the films that started to depart from the tried and tested formula that Crystal Lake Memories gets interesting, making disc two a clear winner in terms of new information. 

Let’s face it, if you’ve never seen a Friday the 13th film, the chances of you settling in with a near seven hour exploration of the series are slim; Crystal Lake Memories is made explicitly for the fans. Those fans will have a blast travelling through all incarnations of Jason, from small bullied child, mask clad killer and Freddy’s foe, to uber cyborg hybrid and back again. Just be sure to have your own copies of the series to hand as, after devouring Crystal Lake Memories, a craving to rewatch the twelve movies (if you include both Freddy Vs Jason and the reboot) all over again may surface. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Camp Crystal Lake Memories is available to watch on Shudder now.

This review first appeared on THN.