Deborah Voorhees’ meta magnum opus on Friday the 13th, 13 Fanboy, while managing to check the boxes for many fans, still presents the viewer with an admittedly uneven ride.
The film opens 13 years ago as Deborah Voorhees, playing herself, meets an untimely end at the hands of a deranged Friday the 13th mega-fan. Her granddaughter survives, only to have to relive that night’s grisly events over and over as the killer seemingly reappears to finish the job, killing the surviving actors from the famous horror franchise. As the gory murders continue to ramp up, Kelsey Voorhees and adoptive mother Dee Wallace (also playing herself) struggle to dodge the killer’s attempts, all while trying to keep their lives and families from unravelling.
On the surface, 13 Fanboy should not only satisfy Friday fans and gorehounds alike, but should also do so with a heaping bucketful of unbridled fun, reuniting a large portion of Friday alumni within a familiar horror movie framework. Unfortunately 13 takes itself so seriously that there’s practically no fun in sight here. THAT, ultimately, is 13’s biggest misstep, and that says a lot for a film that is so tonally uneven that it often forgets exactly what it wants to be.
There are some weird choices here. While the film is obviously a love letter to F13, it bounces back and forth between leads, sometimes focusing on Voorhees’ granddaughter (Hayley Greenbauer) and Dee Wallace, both of whom are new to the franchise, and only in this, a pseudo entry. The film does its best to feature its cast in more dramatic roles, but lingering shots and brightly lit kill scenes give the film a Liftetime movie production quality that constantly works against it. There is so much potential here to deliver a meta inspired horror film that plays to the fans, all while delivering a classic who-dunnit, that the decision to focus instead on the color-by-numbers kill scenes largely just feels laborious and drawn out. That’s too bad, because the recipe for a good soup is here, but again, too many ingredients might leave one struggling to find any notes that actually resonate.
While 13 Fanboy works a little too hard to showcase its actors, there are some performances here that are surprisingly unexpected. Greenbauer, when given the chance, anchors the film through its finer moments and Jodi Aronson delivers one of the more solid performances of the film. Vincente DiSante is also serviceable enough and CJ Graham proves that he’s just as adept when the mask comes off.
13 Fanboy, for all of its fan service should be far easier to like than it is, and for fans, is far less than what they deserve.