Movies & TV / Columns

The Good and Bad of Friday the 13th Fan Film Never Hike Alone

November 12, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Never Hike Alone

The Good and Bad of Never Hike Alone

There was a period of time not that long ago where it seemed like a new Friday the 13th movie was close to happening. There were scripts floating around, there were potential directors involved, and there were potential release dates hinted at. And then there was tons of speculation as to what kind of Jason movie we would get. Would the new movie be a new gimmick type movie, like Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday or Jason X? Would the new movie go the “old school” route and feature Jason in the woods of Crystal Lake, killing horny teenagers? Would the movie be a direct sequel to the 2009 reboot or would it be something else? Fandom was awash in heightened anticipation and fear.

And then it all fell apart. Studio interest vanished. And then there was a big lawsuit over who, exactly, owned Friday the 13th, that prevented anyone who did have interest in making another one. That seemingly imminent new Friday the 13th movie was gone.

And that’s when the fan movies showed up. Now, to a degree, there have always been fan movies of famous movie franchises (Star Trek is probably the most prominent franchise with these kinds of movies), but when there’s no new product coming out of the actual franchise these fan movies become an even bigger rallying point than they normally would be. In essence, these fan movies become the franchise until new official stuff comes out.

So, with all of that in mind, I’ve decided to spend a portion of November 2020, a month with an actual Friday the 13th in it (March had a Friday the 13th in it, too), taking a look at three different Friday the 13th fan films that I watched on YouTube. The first fan movie I’m going to look at is Never Hike Alone, directed by, co-written by, and featuring Vincente DiSanti, which came out in 2017.

Never Hike Alone, basically, is a movie about a hiker named Kyle (Andrew Leighty) who, while hiking in the woods as part of some video show or some bullshit that he does, stumbles upon the old Crystal Lake camp and comes face to face with the still very alive and active Jason Voorhees (DiSanti plays Jason). Kyle manages to stay away from the relentless Jason for most of the movie, and when he does go head on with Jason he actually survives. The movie ends with an appearance by the great Thom Mathews, who is once again playing the Tommy Jarvis character he played in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives! (but he’s, you know, older now), and a sort of cliffhanger ending that suggests there are more Jason movies coming from the outfit that made the movie, Womp Stomp Films. A sequel/prequel has already been released, Never Hike in the Snow, which will be the focus of the next Good and Bad next week.

And so, without any further what have you, what’s good and what’s bad about Never Hike Alone?


The Good


Andrew Leighty’s performance: Never Hike Alone is basically a two character story for about 90% of its running time, and as such the movie’s success is going to hinge on how the actors do playing those two characters. Leighty’s Kyle starts off as kind of a douchebag (it’s the whole “guy making an internet video show” thing. There’s a running through the woods montage that makes you wish that Jason would have shown up right then and there and stabbed him so we wouldn’t have to experience more of that kind of thing) but you start to like him and care about him as the story progresses. Part of that is just the suspense of the story; you know that Jason is going to show up eventually and go after him, and since Kyle is the only character we spend any time with he’s the one you end up rooting for by default. But Leighty also has the right amount of screen charisma to carry the story. Again, you really start to like him the more time you spend with him. That’s important for this kind of movie. Leighty also comes across as a guy who might be able to, physically, survive a head on confrontation with Jason. That kind of thing is important, too.

It looks like a real movie: The term “fan movie” automatically sounds like the actual fan movie is going to be cheap and amateurish. Never Hike Alone breaks that assumption into a million pieces as soon as it starts as it looks and plays like an actual real deal movie. It has nice cinematography, it cuts together nicely, and it looks relatively expensive. I have no idea how much Never Hike Alone actually cost to produce, but it looks like a higher end direct-to-video movie. How many fan movies back in the day looked like real movies? That’s awesome.

The production design/art direction is amazing: The Crystal Lake camp set is nothing short of phenomenal. It actually looks like a real abandoned camp. There’s the appropriate amount of dirt and dust and grime all over the place. The disheveled camp sign looks fantastic. How the hell did DiSanti and company find this location? Did they have to actually create everything that we see, or were they able to repurpose stuff they found at a real abandoned camp? Just go ahead and watch the movie and look at the sets.

The movie has terrific atmosphere and suspense: The first half of the movie is essentially Kyle exploring the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake with Jason lurking somewhere in the background. We know that, eventually, Kyle and Jason are going to butt heads and interact, and the anticipation of that eventuality is expertly handled. You are on the edge of your seat the whole time. How often do people say that about a “real” Friday the 13th movie?


Jason is imposing and scary: The Jason we see in Never Hike Alone is sort of a riff on the Jason we see in the 2009 reboot. I guess we’re supposed to believe that he’s kind of a real person, but is he? As soon as you see him you start to wonder how the hell he’s managed to survive, alone, in the abandoned camp. Is he hunting animals and eating them? Does he have a vegetable garden we just don’t see? Or is he a zombie monster like he was in Jason Lives! but he just looks different now? When DiSanti moves in the full Jason getup he’s terrifying. When he wields a weapon of any kind he automatically becomes a million times more dangerous. DiSanti also appears to be really tall. Being tall helps a lot with making Jason scary. If you came across this Jason in real life you’d run away scared to death.

Jason choke slams Kyle: That’s it. Jason choke slams Kyle and it’s just so fucking awesome to see.

Thom Mathews is in it: Having an actor like Mathews appear in a fan movie like Never Hike Alone just elevates it above the rest because he appeared in a “real” Friday the 13th movie. On top of that, Mathews is once again playing Tommy Jarvis, which just elevates things even more. His sudden appearance at the end of the movie comes off as a major surprise, even when you know about his presence in the movie ahead of time. It also makes you wonder why, after everything he’s been through, Tommy Jarvis would still be living in Crystal Lake/Forest Green. I mean, shit, after the end of Jason Lives! would you stick around in that little town, or would you move away and try to create a new life for yourself? It will be interesting to see if any of this is explored in any future Never Hike Alone sequel/prequel/whatever.

The Bad

Not many kills: Unlike “real” Friday the 13th movies, Never Hike Alone doesn’t have much of a body count. In fact, we don’t see Jason actually kill anyone until the end. That seems very un-Jason movie like. I get it, there are only two characters on screen for a vast majority of the movie and special effects are expensive and it sure as hell seems as though DiSanti was more interested in creating a sense of dread and suspense, but if you’re going to do a Jason movie shouldn’t there be some sort of body count? Two kills just isn’t enough.

A lack of imaginative kills: The kills that we do get are pretty boring. There’s blood and gore, sure, but where’s the nastiness? Where’s the creativity? If you’re going to make a Jason movie shouldn’t you have at least one kill that makes the audience go “Holy shit that was cool!”? I think you should. I mean, isn’t that one of the important things in a “real” Friday the 13th movie? Isn’t that part of the fun?

It’s unclear how this fits in with the rest of the movies, especially Jason Lives!: We have to assume, I think, that Never Hike Alone exists in the world that we see in Jason Lives! because of the presence of Thom Mathews as Tommy Jarvis. If that is the case, how did Jason get out of the lake? Why is Tommy still in town? And why wouldn’t there be more of a major barrier separating Camp Crystal Lake from the rest of the town (that’s why that barbed wire fence exists, right? To make sure people don’t venture beyond the wire and into “Jason’s territory?”)? Just what the heck is going on here? Did the movies after Jason Lives! happen, too, or, again, are we to assume that Jason Lives! is the end of the “real” movies and this fan movie picks up where that one left off? Or is this meant to be an alternate timeline? Does this mean that, like I’ve always suspected, that the Friday the 13th movie franchise is just a self-perpetuating urban legend where the first movie is the only one that really happened and all of the other ones are just stories people tell about what they think happened at the camp?

Yeah, I’m willing to admit that I’m confused about all of this.


The ending is lame: Never Hike Alone ends with Tommy driving an ambulance away from Crystal Lake with Kyle in the back, attached to a stretcher, and Jason walking towards the ambulance. We don’t see a final fight between Jason and Kyle or Jason and Tommy (or Jason against Kyle and Tommy). Evil isn’t beaten back or vanquished only to rise again at some point in the future. Jason is still very much alive. That doesn’t seem very Friday the 13th to me. Of course, Never Hike Alone could be the first in a series of short movies that, when you watch them all together, make up a whole movie and we will, eventually, see Jason beaten back like usual. Even then, it would have been nice to see more of a “real” ending.


Never Hike Alone is a top notch movie from start to finish. I have a few quibbles, obviously, but in an overall sense Never Hike Alone has more good stuff going for it than anything else. The people involved in its production clearly worked their asses off to make something amazing and special and I think Jason nerds will like it quite a bit. And, with the presence of Never Hike in the Snow, it looks like we’re going to see more Jason movies from these people in the future. I’m down for that.

See Never Hike Alone. See it, see it, see it.


Rating: 8.0/10.0


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.