No fanfare, no trailers, no expectation. I had just become privy to a film that was released 3 years ago.
2017 saw the release of Womp Stomp Films', "Never Hike Alone". Based on that name alone, it sounds like a horror, but little did you know (maybe it was just me), It was connected to The Friday the 13th franchise.
In case you are wondering, yes, I have been stuck under a rock all this time. Upon my resurfacing, it was obvious I had missed out on a pretty decent fan film.
The ad copy reads: A fan tribute to (the) Friday the 13th (franchise), "Never Hike Alone" follows an adventure blogger (vlogger actually), Kyle McLeod (Andrew Leighty), who uncovers the long lost remains of Camp Crystal Lake while on a solo backpacking trip. Ignoring the campfire tales from his childhood, Kyle's search turns deadly when he makes the grave mistake of crossing the path of Camp Blood’s legendary mass murderer, Jason Voorhees. Stranded in the forest with Jason on his heels, Kyle must push his survival skills to their limits if he hopes to survive the night. Otherwise, he'll wind up as another lost victim of the cursed camp.
What made me watch this film is because I saw an ad on Twitter. I thought it was about an upcoming movie. I shared my displeasure with the concept of "Jason in the snow". After talking with the producer, I realized this was a fan film and not a motion picture project. That should tell you all you need to know about the presentational quality.
Now that you know what it's about, lets dig deeper on why you should, or shouldn't watch this film.
1. FINAL GUY: In the era of equality, this film features a thing such as a Final Guy. Typically, everyone gets butchered in your standard horror film and the most virtuous woman survives. Well, not in this one. Our final guy is Kyle who is this sort of Peter McKinnon/Casey Neistat sort of a guy who wanders onto the infamous Camp Crystal Lake. This part of the project I admire because it doesn't play on common tropes and deviates a little with the idea of there being a final guy. Does he lives? Does he die? Well, you will just have to watch it and see.
2. CINEMATOGRAPHY: When it first started, I thought it would be this sort of "found footage" thing, and I was thinking, "Please don't be." And it wasn't. It starts out with these really cool sort of YouTube-like angles with Kyle doing his thing. I am a fan of good camera placement because we got some intense adventurous shots during that sequence. Also, the close ups with Jason and the first person shots with Kyle taking a tumble earlier in the film was pretty good. Enough nerd for the day.
3. TIMEFRAME: Camp Blood exists in this project. Now, you are probably saying, that "of course, you idiot. It exists in all of the franchise's films." What I mean by this is that it exists as part of a historical perspective. How it fits was a little more ambiguous.
Kyle is aware of the Pamala Voorhees murders and Jason's revenge. Now how far that goes I can't tell. Giving an educated guess, part 1-7 are canon to this movie. Why? Because Tommy Jarvis appear. YES! Thom Matthews reprises his role as Tommy. That took me by surprise. Given that Tommy is an older adult, still living around the area, this would exclude every other film after part 6. Something more concrete to back this up, Kyle comes face to face with an unmasked Jason and it looks like the resurrected Jason that Tommy had to face back in "The New Blood". However, it appears Kyle's knowledge of the Voorhees murders stop around part 2 or 3. Because he isn't aware Jason is alive and thinks the revenge parts are just "a ghost story".
4. FAST JASON (SORT OF): This Jason is pretty fast! He's not 2009's running Jason, but he moves about pretty quickly. Poor Kyle couldn't really create a good distance between the two. Jason always caught up with a faster pace than he is known for.
TANGET: Speaking of a fast paced Jason. I was hoping this film would explain that, or just hint how Jason catches up with people. For those not in the know, Jason walks....SLOWLY. Yet, he's always there when his victims reach their destination. How does he do it? Well, he simply has the ability to teleport. This is actually canon. But the movies have been very ambiguous with it even though they sometimes hint at it. The comic books and the prequel material details how Jason has the ability to teleport from one place to another. He also has telekinesis, which the movies never touched out.
However, in "Jason takes Manhattan" (more like Canada, haha) A guy runs up a flight of stairs leaving Jason at the bottom outside of the building. Immediately, the guy is tossed out a few stories high. The moment he lands, within seconds Jason kills the guy outside of the building. This is because Jason has the ability to teleport, so running away from him is almost useless. I was hopping that this film would touch on that. But that's a minor caveat.
5. THE MAKE UP: To me, the practical FX was fantastic. I'm not sure what the budget was for this movie, but fan films aren't usually tackled with a high budget, yet this film does not suffer. Jason's face is just as horrific as they are in the films. The wounds are of good quality. Its not Savini's level. But it looks high budgeted. There's dream sequence kill where the practical FX shines through. This project lacked nothing that would indicate of low budget film. If I'm not mistaken, we even get a good looking Pam Voorhees cadaver.
6. JASON: While 53 minutes isn't fair enough to judge a performance, I will say that the person (Vincente Disanti) playing Jason did a fantastic job! Be aware, to me, the definitive Jason will always be Kane Hodder. Disanti does a great Job of a portraying a more mobile and hard to kill Jason. If there was one thing I’d love to see from Jason that I didn’t get to see, was his head tilt when things aren’t logically clear to him.
Should you watch it? Of course! Is it good? Yes! On a scale of 4 stars, I’ll give it a 3 1/2.
Not wanting to play the spoiler, there are some plots that’s going to make you want more, particularly at the end. The acting was good. The plot was simple but definitely expansive! I will say that there are things that can be built upon. I’m talking layers and layers. The gore was surprisingly great! And most importantly, I was truly entertained.
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