Film Review: Never Hike in the Snow

The fan film Never Hike in the Snow.

(Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen this.)

You snow something people have always wanted? Jason Voorhees in the snow. See what I did there? But yeah, it sounds simple; however, the fixation makes sense: We’re so used to seeing these iconic serial killers in certain environments, what would it look like to see them in a new environment? Across 12 films and a prior fan film in the Friday the 13th franchise, Jason Voorhees has been at a summer camp, in the suburbs, in Manhattan (hey, for four minutes!), and even in space, but he’s never been in the snow.

Finally, with what seems to be a prequel set prior to the events of Womp Stomp Films’ fan film from 2017, Never Hike Alone, Never Hike in the Snow: A Friday the 13th Fan Film, is here to bring us Jason Voorhees in the snow. The fan film appropriately dropped for free (yes, free) on YouTube on Oct. 13.

Vincente DiSanti is back in all three major roles behind the scenes as producer, writer and director, as well as playing Jason Voorhees. And Thom Mathews, who had a cameo in the last film, and, obviously, is most known for playing Tommy Jarvis in Jason Lives, is back as well.

The synposis reads:

Set three months prior to “Never Hike Alone,” “Never Hike in the Snow” follows the strange disappearance of Mark Hill (Courtlan Gordon), a Crystal Lake resident who went for a hike in the dead of winter and never came home. As local Wessex County Sheriff Rick Cologne (Vinny Guastaferro) and Deputy Allen Mabry (Bryan Forrest) search for answers, town local Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews) believes that his old nemesis Jason Voorhees (Vincente DiSanti) is to blame. Will Diana Hill (Anna Campbell) ever see her son again, or will her son become another lost victim of the cursed camp?

I raved in my review of Never Hike Alone that for a fan film and on its own merits, it was solid as heck, both from a filmmaking standpoint and from a storytelling standpoint. When I heard this prequel recently dropped, it was a no-brainer to watch it. This one is a bit shorter than the prior film (that one being about 53 minutes) at about a half the time at 25 minutes.

One thing that has undoubtedly helped fan films look even cooler is what I presume to be drone footage to get the overhead shots we see. It automatically elevates a fan film.

Not even five minutes into this and the cool benefits of shooting this in the snow are evident: 1.) There’s something more horrific about trying to run from Jason Voorhees in the slippery snow; and 2.) The red blood on snow contrast looks great on film.

In this, we get also get the continuation of a theme we’ve seen in other films in the franchise. The sheriff who either doesn’t want to believe Jason Voorhees is back and responsible for new atrocities or the sheriff who knows Jason Voorhees is back, but wants to cover it up. In this case, we seem to be getting the latter, although, honestly, both of those ultimately amount to the same thing. The former rationalize that it’s a copycat killer or some other such thing, but they know the truth and are lying to themselves.

And just like in Jason Lives, pursuant to the above, Tommy Jarvis is arrested ostensibly for trespassing at Camp Crystal Lake.

We get quite the effective horror sequence when one of the deputies finds Jason Voorhees’ uh, shrine, to his decapitated mother, and has the drop on him. But then the candles go out, and Jason Voorhees, naturally, has the drop on him. That results in a shotgun blast to the deputy’s head and a cool visual of blood spraying across Jason Voorhees’ mask.

I don’t think this was as strong of an entry as Never Hike Alone, but the snow environment carries it forward enough to make it worth watching. I do wish there was even more snow action, though. More than Never Hike Alone, this one feels like a piece of an ongoing story rather than a standalone film. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since reportedly more films are on the way, but it is noticeable.

Also, unless it gets explained in a follow-up film, Tommy Jarvis in Never Hike Alone is a paramedic who doesn’t seem to act as if Jason Voorhees is still alive and on a rampage. However, if this film is set three months before that film, then he should absolutely know that fact. Not to say nothing of him being arrested by the sheriff. Even if he’s eventually freed, he then is allowed on as a paramedic? So that seems like a rather glaring plot hole. I think this film would work better if they just made it a sequel, which it seems to be given Tommy Jarvis is hot on Jason Voorhees’ trail, rather than as a prequel.

Still, we haven’t gotten a new Friday the 13th film in 11 years (and an original film that isn’t a remake in 18 years … 18 years!) and a new one doesn’t seem on the way in the foreseeable future, so even with my constructive criticisms, I would still recommend anyone who is a fan of the franchise or horror to check out this fan film.

If this visual doesn’t make you want to check out this free fan film, then you’re dead to me and Jason Voorhees.

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