Horror often takes its audience in a new direction when least expected. I’m experiencing that now courtesy of my recent, inexplicable fixation with the Friday the 13th franchise and the journey it’s taken me on.
Revisiting the shenanigans of (almost always) Jason Voorhees has been fascinating and mostly enjoyable, but by the time I experienced the Halloween: Resurrection level of disappointment that is Jason Takes Manhattan, Friday fatigue was beginning to set in like rigor mortis for one of Jason’s victims. And then I decided to watch two Friday the 13th Fan Films: Never Hike Alone (2017) and its prequel Never Hike in the Snow (2020). My faith has been restored!
Created by Womp Stomp Films and both currently available FOR FREE on YouTube (see the links below), I now consider these two films as essential viewing for not only fans of the franchise but of horror movies in general. They really are THAT good!
I don’t want to give away too much about either film, so hopefully the quick summary below, along with my praise for each, will be enough to convince you to take a chance on this double dose of fan-made, fan-friendly horror!
NEVER HIKE ALONE (2017): Never Hike Alone
With a running time of 54 minutes, Never Hike Alone tells the story of Kyle McLeod, a handsome, athletic hiker (and probable Influencer) who, during a solo backpacking trip, stumbles upon the long-lost remains of Camp Crystal Lake; however, as he explores around the area, he soon realizes he’s not alone.
As the adventurous hiker, Drew Leighty delivers an amazing performance, and that is not just because he is easy on the eyes either (ha ha). His character’s quick-thinking-on-his-feet survival skills are completely believable in this wilderness environment, regardless of what he’s up against.
The make-up effects are pretty awesome, while the cinematography and editing are incredibly impressive. Kudos to director, co-writer, co-executive producer, co-star (and clearly superfan) Vincente DiSanti for his major contributions to the film’s success. For a movie with a reported budget of $19,000 USD, the resulting movie looks like a million bucks and truly provides some solid scares for anyone choosing to invest their time watching it.
Oh, and for fans of the Friday the 13th movies, this one has a nice casting treat in store for you!
NEVER HIKE IN THE SNOW (2020): Never Hike in the Snow
This prequel may only be 31 minutes long, but it’s definitely a worthy companion piece to Never Hike Alone. Taking place 3 months prior to Kyle McLeod’s memorable hiking excursion in the same area, Never Hike in the Snow follows the local police’s investigation of the strange disappearance of Mark Hill, a Crystal Lake resident who never returned home from a winter time hike.
Again, with director/writer/co-star/co-executive producer Vincente DiSanti at the helm, Never Hike in the Snow brings horrifying new meaning to the term “in the dead of winter” even with its relatively short running time. Production values remain top notch, while the casting and performances are also solid, including the return of the same familiar face from Never Hike Alone.