Never Hike Alone: Not Another Fan Film!
Never Hike Alone (Vincente DiSanti, 2017) is a Friday the 13th fan film that pre-dates Vengeance. The two films are incomparable for the purposes of the review. Each takes its own approach to the subject matter. Vengeance is a roller-coaster slasher ride which delves into the mythology surrounding the Voorhees universe. Never Hike Alone, however focuses on tension and suspense from the opening sequence. The title page reflects eighties horror, with it’s large, dripping red fonts and an eerie score. A bird’s eye view of a Jeep travelling through a forest pass follows and is reminiscent of the journey in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Full use is made of the sun’s glare in creating this chilling sequence.
The point of view changes allowing the antagonist to develop character. Kyle McLeod is a hiker and survivalist who films his adventures for an online channel. This is revealed as he talks to his audience through his own cam. Further information is divulged through shots of his agility and capability in the wilderness. He reaches his intended destination far sooner than anticipated. Sequences of Kyle running through the forest are enhanced by a variety of camera angles, and the splendid location backdrop.
Never Hike Alone: NO Trespassers
Kyle’s survival abilities are further highlighted as he gives tips to the audience via his cam. He is also seen using product placement, products that he has not faith in, presumably to boost income. His discussion is cut short by the sounds of coyotes and their ensuing destruction. The tension slowly builds. During the next leg of his hike, Kyle comes across a ‘No Trespassers’ sign. This is essentially the harbinger of doom, often characterized by an old man in early horror warning the young to keep away. During this scene Jason is seen behind Kyle, but as Kyle turns, he disappears. This is the moment of choice, to heed the harbinger’s warning; go back to whence he came, or step into the unknown. Of course, Kyle opts to step into the unknown, locates Crystal Lake and a tense game of ‘cat and mouse’ ensues.
Isolation, heavy mists, eerie music, claustrophobic camera angles, and low shots of Jason’s boots all serve to build up the tension. Once Kyle crosses the trespassing sign he is within Jason’s wilderness, at first unwittingly. The tension heightens as Kyle finds something on the forest floor and scraping away the twigs locates the ‘Camp Crystal Lake’ sign. Kyle investigates the camp further, and acts as narrator; relaying the Jason story to the audience. Suspense peaks as he explores the cabins, which let in little light.
In the final cabin, he notices that someone is in residence. Immediately, the pace of the film accelerates as he very quickly he realizes that Jason is alive. The fight scenes are tremendous, especially some of the stunts, which look quite painful. Jason’s ability to withstand physical damage is established and further tension is created. Spying through holes in the wall, the uncovering of Mrs Voorhees’ head, Jason disappearing and reappearing, and the claustrophobic use of light and camera angle all contribute.
Tom Savini Would Be Proud!
During the fight, and attack sequences injuries do occur. The wounds are delightfully realistic, as is the use of thick fluid oozing from Jason’s mask. Jason’s appearance, when unmasked, is nothing short of outstanding. Although the narrative suggests that he is in his zombie state, the actual visuals are comparable to Friday the 13th Part IV. However, the most uncomfortable scene is perhaps Kyle suturing his own leg. It is relatable, and cringe-worthy, but could have lasted longer.
Never Hike Alone: True to Form
Never Hike Alone remains true to both the genre, and the franchise. Towards the end Kyle hallucinates, in a manner true to the original film. I cannot say too much more on this without spoiling the climax. The weapons used are also true to canon; an axe, and the infamous machete. The camp leads out onto the notorious Cunningham Road, and the small cast of supporting characters reflect early Friday the 13th victims. Thom Matthews makes an appearance reprising his roll as Jason’s nemesis Tommy Jarvis and refers to Jason as ‘Maggot Head.’
Worth the Watch
I can honestly say that I was blown away by this fan film. The music is consistently eerie, and in parts reflects Manfredini’s score. The scenery and camera angles are breath-taking, isolating and claustrophobic. Tension continuously builds right up until the final shot. There are not as many deaths as one would expect to see in a slasher film. However, the suspense more than makes up for this. Jason’s appearance is true to Savini form, and the wounds are equally astonishing.
The trailer for this film shows various news reels relating to the Voorhees history. It would have strengthened the film further to have these snippets during the opening sequence. None the less, the film stands out in the realms of fan fiction and, like Vengeance fills the gap left by the absence of Friday the 13th films.
Never Hike Alone: Keeping the Legend Alive
Another Friday the 13th film; Voorhees, is currently in post-production. A mainstream film has not been made since the reboot in 2009. Legal problems regarding the ownership of Jason Voorhees threatened to kill the franchise. It is now the fans who are keeping the legend alive through fan made films. These films are proving to be of a high standard and reflect fan commitment to the franchise. Never Hike Alone is an outstanding work and well worth the watch!