13 Fanboy

Bubble baths can be a dangerous place in a slasher movie.

(2021) Horror (Deskpop) Dee Wallace, Hayley Reece Greenbauer, Corey Feldman, Kane Hodder, Lar Park-Lincoln, Judie Aronson, Tracie Savage, Jennifer Banko, C.J. Graham, Drew Leighty, Ron Sloan, Debra Sullivan, Poppy Gillett, Kaylee Hall, Hayley Duncan, Taylor Rodriguez, Nigel Lawes, Caslin Rose, Darren Barcomb, Tiffany Helm, James Cantu, Deborah Voorhees, Liana Cockfield. Directed by Deborah Voorhees

 

For folks my age and a bit younger, the Eighties were a magic time for both movies and music; it was morning in America, and the multiplexes – something fairly new at the time – were filled with low-budget slasher movies and cheapo horror. It isn’t hard to look back on those days with fondness. It seemed that every other week there was a new movie guaranteed to make your date cram her head into your shoulder – or put his protective arm around you. There were franchises a-plenty to keep us interested in our latest indestructible serial killer.

One of those franchises was the Friday the 13th franchise, with hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees at the center. If you’re wondering why no new movies have been made in that particular series since 2009 when the Marcus Nispel-directed reboot was made. Since then, the rights have been tied up in a lawsuit that was only recently decided over who earned the copyright, although as it turns out, things still remain complicated; original writer Victor Miller was awarded domestic rights in the lawsuit, but original director Sean S. Cunningham retains the international rights. It seems as though it will still be a very long time before Jason dons the hockey mask once again.

But until then, we have 13 Fanboy. Co-written and directed by Deborah Voorhees (no relation to Jason), who played Tina in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning, this is as much a love letter to fans as it is a visceral horror movie playing on the fears of actresses regarding the sometimes-toxic obsession of fans. The movie has a cast of actors from the franchise (and a few who weren’t) playing versions f themselves. Dee Wallace, the mom from E.T. and the heroine of The Howling, was good friends with Deborah Voorhees, but pooh-poohs her fears about an obsessed fan. The stalker then stabbed Voorhees to death on her ranch, witnessed by her granddaughter Kelsie (Gillett).

13 years after the murder (I’m sure the amount of time elapsed wasn’t chosen randomly), Dee still feels guilty about not believing her friend. She has kept close contact with Kelsie (Greenbauer), a budding actress who also teaches a self-defense class and has had a successful career as an MMA fighter as well. Kelsie also notices that actresses from the movie series are being picked off, one by one, and the police seem apathetic to it. Could this be the same killer who took her grandmother away all those years ago?

It shouldn’t be much of a spoiler to tell you that it is, and that Dee and Kelsie will have to be smarter and tougher than the killer if they are to survive. The movie gives us an intimate view of fan culture as well as the bond between the actresses whose moments of glory came in films like Friday the 13th and its successors. The filmmakers utilize practical effects throughout rather than digital – they couldn’t have had much of a budget – but they did spring for graphics identifying each actor and the role they played in the series. There are some exceptions; former teen heartthrob Corey Feldman (who did play Tommy in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter in 1984, plays ultra-sleazy producer Mike Merryman here, overacting shamelessly, and why not? Voorhees seems to be making this for the fans as much as exorcising her own fears here. That does give the movie a kind of schizophrenia that makes you wonder if it had been originally intended to be a serious examination of fan obsession, but the ending – with too many twists to be satisfying – seems to indicate that it wasn’t ever intended to be that way. Still, it makes one wonder “what if” in a good way.

There is a scene which might remind viewers uncomfortably of the recent events on the set of the film Rust, although here it is a prop knife that is switched and a stunt double is accidentally killed. The fact that the film within a film was being shot in New Mexico is an eerie coincidence, but one that perhaps takes us a bit out of this film. That’s just one of those bizarre things that sometimes happens in life.

The thing to remember here is that this really is going to be delightful for those who love the original movies and take part in convention culture. In that sense, the movie is a rousing success; it does celebrate the love between the fans and the actors and gives some actors, many of whom are likely missing the loss of convention income during the pandemic, a chance to shine in the sun once again, and some do. Kane Hodder gets an uncharacteristic monologue that actually was quite effective, while Tracie Savage shows she can still be a scream queen with the best of them. There is also a fight late in the film between former Jason C.J. Graham and the masked killer in which C.J. bellows “You want a shot at the title?” which gets the blood pumping nicely. All in all, this is a nifty little film that is flawed perhaps but ultimately a satisfying work, particularly for fans.

REASONS TO SEE: Really fan-friendly.
REASONS TO AVOID: Too many plot twists mar the ending.
FAMILY VALUES: There is violence, profanity, brief nudity and some sexuality.
TRIVIAL PURSUITS: This is the first release by new distributor Deskpop Entertainment.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Google Play, Microsoft, Spectrum, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 11/5/21: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: New Nightmare
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT:
The Gig is Up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.