the fanatic | fred durst | dave bekerman | john travolta | devon sawa | ana golja | crime | thriller | united states | torture | jacob grodnik | james paxton | josh richman | jeff chase | luis da silva jr. | jessica uberuaga | rene michelle aranada | marta gonzalez rodin
Film: The Fanatic
Director: Fred Durst
Writer: Fred Durst and Dave Bekerman
Starring: John Travolta, Devon Sawa and Ana Golja
This was another film that I had intended to see at the Gateway Film Center, but my schedule didn’t mesh up for me to do that. It didn’t help that I heard mixed things about it, but the consensus is that this is wild. The synopsis is a rabid film fan stalks his favorite action hero and destroys the star’s life.
We’re given voice-over narration from Leah (Ana Golja) who is a photographer in Los Angeles. She talks about what the city does to people and that’s when we go into talking about Moose (John Travolta). He’s a mentally handicapped man who loves film. Our first interaction is him going to a store that he frequents and learns that his hero, Hunter Dunbar, is going to be there to sign autographs. This news upsets Moose, as he thought he should already know this, but it is revealed it just was finalized.
Moose works as a performer on the street as an old-timey Bobby police officer from the United Kingdom. He has to contend with Todd (Jacob Grodnik) who is a magician that is working with a pick-pocket Slim (James Paxton) who make quite a bit more money. This bothers Moose as they’re taking advantage of the fans that are there and don’t respect them.
Leah reveals to Moose about a party that Hunter is supposed to be at, but he gets kicked out for making a scene. He goes to the autograph signing after spending the rest of his money for a vest that the Hunter wore in a low-budget vampire movie for him to sign. Hunter (Devon Sawa) has to stop signing though when his wife shows up and they get into it. Moose not understanding social norms, bothers him and this causes Hunter to go off on him and not sign what he asks.
From here things take a turn when Leah reveals that she knows where the stars live through an app on her phone. Moose downloads it and then stalks his idol. He doesn’t realize what he’s doing isn’t good, he just thinks that he’s a fan. The more this infuriates Hunter, the more he takes it out on Moose. Moose though is at the end of his rope and sick of people bullying him as he starts to take matters into his own hands.
Now I have to admit this has a solid story that we’re working off here. I thought I heard somewhere that this is loosely based on something that co-writer/director Fred Durst actually experienced. Clearly not to the level this goes, but that he had an obsessed fan that he had to deal with. I’ve heard quite a few actors and actresses dealing with something like this as well.
I’m actually torn though on my assessment of this. On one side we have Moose. Is he an obsessed fan? Absolutely, but I also give some leeway there as he’s mentally handicapped. He doesn’t understand that some of the things he’s doing is going too far. It doesn’t help that he is legit bullied by Todd and then Hunter is extremely rude to him as well. Some of this is justified. What Moose is doing is quite scary just showing up like he is. I do think that Hunter would have just signed some things, Moose might just stop. On the converse though, he might not have as he doesn’t understand when he’s told to stay away.
With that said, I completely get where Hunter is coming from. As a celebrity, even more so one like him, as he doesn’t seem like he’s a major star. He’s more of a lower budget, action guy who is a bit more accessible. It would be scary to have someone come to your place like he has. There’s also the issue that him and his wife are no longer together. His life isn’t going as well as it should be, or how it is projected out to be. He is projecting that anger on Moose. A line from his ex-wife makes me think Moose just bothering them like he did is something that happened pretty regularly and probably led to their split as well.
For how good and dark these ideas we get here are, this film was a bit boring if I’m going to be honest. With a runtime of 88 minutes, it does fly by. The problem that I had is it establishes our two main characters along with Leah who is actually kind to Moose and wants to help. But it did meander until the time that Moose really loses it and any chance of normalcy. From that point, it does pretty well at building tension, but it is a bit too little too late. The ending was something I wasn’t necessarily expecting and I actually did like that to be honest.
I feel like I should move to the acting from here. I know there’s the joke out there when it comes to acting ‘Don’t go full retard’. Now I don’t necessarily like this quote, but it felt like it was needed here as Travolta does a really good job at applying himself as someone who is a mentally handicapped. I actually believed him in this role and that I felt horrible for him for how bad he’s beaten down. Since I can’t fault either star and Moose is doing a lot of illegal things, I do think that it works well in questioning my morals. With that said, Sawa really comes off as an asshole. I think that it helps that they establish his life is kind of in a rut and he’s making the best of it. It is hard to blame him for protecting his son and life from Moose, but I think his aggression causes a lot of the issues. I found Golja to be quite attractive and an interesting character. She doesn’t realize that she is making the problems worse with certain things, but she really wants Moose to be happy. Grodnik and Paxton are good to help push to Moose to the edge as well. They’re both jerks which fit for their roles. There are quite a few attractive women here who help to round this out and give the feel of Hollywood.
As to the effects here, there weren’t a lot until the climax. Even there, the movie doesn’t have too many, but they looked to be practical. I wasn’t expecting this to go where it did, but once it had, I dug it. What happens during that to a character legit made me cringe and just interesting to the overall story. For this being Durst’s first film, it is also shot pretty well if I’m honest.
The last thing to cover is the soundtrack, which didn’t really stand out to me. It did fit for what was needed and never took me out of it. I only really bring it up as I thought it was funny that Hunter is in the car with his son and puts on Limp Bizkit. Speaking that Durst is the co-writer/director and with Sawa’s age, it fits that he would listen to them growing up. I thought it was fun tie in.
Now with that said, this film does do some really good things. I like that it is grounded in reality and the performance of Travolta really drives this. Speaking of driving, it is an interesting character study of someone with his mental capacity is driven to the things that he does through bullies at work as well as his hero not living up to what he thought. That is an aspect that Leah narrates over this that meeting our heroes can be a disappointment. I do think there’s a slight pacing issue though as it does meander for a bit. The effects we get look really good and although the soundtrack didn’t stand out, it fit for what was needed here. Overall I’d say this is slightly above average if I’m going to be perfectly honest, but had the potential to be really good.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10