Let’s get this out of the way first: Never Hike Alone is a Friday the 13th fan film. You most likely won’t see me reviewing another fan film ever again. It’s just not something I want to cover on this site. But this fan film is a little different. The production value is incredibly high and the film is damn good. It’s arguably better than half the films in the franchise. So, I’m making a special exception for this Halloween season.
My History With the Film:
I first saw the trailer for Never Hike Alone early in 2017. It’s not something I’d typically watch, but the folks over at r/horror were praising the production values so I gave it a go. What I saw was pretty impressive. A YouTube personality documents his hikes throughout the various forests and stumbles upon the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake. It’s a good plot that is modern and simple enough to actually work. So, I looked forward to its release which came on October 13th, Friday the 13th in 2017. I was actually getting married on Friday the 13th, but once I returned home that following Sunday, one of the first things I did was watch Never Hike Alone. I liked it… a lot.
What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A YouTube personality stumbles upon the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake.
What I Liked About It:
-I loved the plot as mentioned above. It’s simple and extremely effective. The filmmakers use a GoPro along with traditional filmmaking and it worked wonderfully. I am not a fan of found footage films, but in this case I felt like the footage not only made sense, but actually enhanced the storytelling experience. If I had to compare the amount of GoPro footage to traditional footage I’d say the film is 15% Go Pro footage and 85% regular film.
-The film stars just one actor, Drew Leighty, who does a masterful job of creating a character you care about and believe in. His athletic ability is showcased before he encounters Jason and his response to Jason’s appearance was believable.
-Everyone knows I hate to spoil anything, so I won’t dive into the ending. Let’s just say the film takes a dramatic turn towards the last ten minutes and becomes straight up Friday the 13th fan fair. Fans of the series will love it and it’s icing on the cake for an already strong Jason movie.
-The runtime was perfect for a film starring just one person. It never dragged on or got boring. There was always something going on and the tension was masterfully done.
-The cinematography was wonderful. The use of drones helped make this film like a big budget production and the previous mentioned GoPro style shots were tastefully done.
-The film is not perfect, but it channels the energy and tension that the best Friday the 13th movies have. It feels liked a stripped down, back to the basics approach to the Jason character, and I think its something fans have been begging for.
-The tension and gore are balanced in almost perfect harmony.
What I Didn't Like About It:
-As much as I enjoyed the ending, I do think fans that are not familiar with the franchise will be confused and this could dampen their enjoyment.
-I felt like a bigger actor for Jason might have helped create a more menacing presence.
-Never Hike Alone was actually produced thanks to a Kickstarter funding. The Kickstarter collected over $18,000.
Look, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this film is a four out of five for me. I wish there was a blu ray release so I could add it to my collection. I hope that the folks at New Line/Paramount (or whoever owns the rights now) see what Womp Stomp Films did and bring back Friday the 13th in the same tone and style. And if they decide to go that route, they owe it to the folks at Womp Stomp to find them some part in the production.
The movie industry is not always fair and sometimes its feast or famine. Friday the 13th fans have been taken for granted for years, and have been offered very little in return. This film is the closest that we’ve gotten to a proper Friday the 13th film since the late 1980’s. That’s saying something. If you enjoy the franchise like I do, check out this fan film. I can’t recommend it enough.
Check out Never Hike Alone below: