13 Fanboy is a meta love letter to schlocky 80s horror and the fan convention scene. This campy slasher is not without a plethora of problems, but for me, it did not diminish enjoyment. Part of the fun lies in a rogues gallery of familiar horror faces—everyone from Kane Hodder (Jason in Friday 7-X), Dee Wallace (Cujo, Halloween), Corey Feldman (Friday 4 & 5, The Lost Boys), and Deborah Voorhees (Tina from Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning, who also directs and co-wrote 13 Fanboy with Joel Paul Reisig) pops up in significant roles. Nearly every actor in the movie is playing themselves, with a few minor exceptions. Feldman plays a sleazy movie producer with a heavy Boston accent, while Hayley Greenbauer is Kelsie Voorhees, the fictional granddaughter of Deborah Voorhees. This type of filmmaking has been executed several times over (see Wes Craven’s New Nightmare for a perfect example), but I am not sure an obsessive stalker fan has ever been turned into a self-aware horror slasher in this way.
It has been thirteen years since an obsessive fan murdered Friday the 13th actress Deborah Voorhees in the woods at her ranch, stabbing her to death and acting as a tragic warning. Now an adult, Deborah’s granddaughter Kelsie is about to find out that the killer is far from finished with his twisted vendetta. On the cutting block is a wide array of horror favorites; the only way to stop the killer in their tracks is for Dee Wallace (playing a heightened version of herself) to outsmart them. The cops certainly do not care. When actress Lar Park-Lincoln goes missing, they assume the found footage movie she was working on has been pulling some elaborate stunt. Their best suggestion for Dee is to “to keep your doors locked and your guns loaded!”
At times, I felt like this was a window into the convention scene itself. This script was culminated from director/writer/actress Deborah Voorhees and her genuine fears. A tinge of reality can’t help but seep its way into the narrative, even amongst the campier over-the-top elements. How can one take a movie seriously when the killer says this: “you used to take my breath away—now, I’m gonna take yours!” It is all about a balancing act. Wallace is given the majority of the dramatic heft, and tackles it with an emotional but level-headed approach.
13 Fanboy is not without its share of issues. It may be only just slightly over an hour and a half, yet even at this length I feel it should be been trimmed down a bit. Some sequences and characterizations seem to exist merely to pad out the runtime, and they add very little to the narrative. The killer’s mask is too simple, neither incredibly iconic nor overtly memorable. There are a few too many false endings, along with minimal bloodletting that does improve the closer the film crawls towards its home stretch.
However, it gets more right than wrong. Practical effects reign supreme, and the audience is gifted with a plethora of unique (and very gory!) kills. A scene attempting to replicate similar stakes to Freddy vs. Jason features a showdown too iconic to miss. “Want a shot at the title?” former Jason Voorhees actor C.J. Graham taunts to the masked killer. While the Friday the 13th franchise itself may be wrapped up tightly in a seemingly never-ending legal battle, movies like 13 Fanboy work hard at delivering their own set of thrills and chills. Any hardcore fan of Jason Voorhees (or of any of member of this cast) would be remiss to skip this one.
13 Fanboy stabs its way to select theaters and VOD on Friday, October 22nd.