The story is inspired by a real-life fan who pursued Limp Bizkit’s frontman Fred Durst many years ago, and the screenplay was written by Durst and Dave Bekerman. It follows Moose (played by John Travolta), who gets cheated out of meeting his favorite action hero, Hunter Dunbar (played by Devon Sawa). Moose then hunts down Dunbar to get the celebrity interaction he feels he deserves. Harmless at first, Moose’s actions begin to take a dark turn. Against the advice of his friend Leah (Ana Golja), Moose begins to make frequent visits to his hero’s private home. As the visits continue to escalate, Dunbar finds himself in increasing danger.
Limp Bizkit frontman, Fred Durst, is mostly known for his nu-metal music career with his hugely successful band, but he has also, on occasion, stepped behind the camera to direct music videos, and a few feature length films to varying results.
Here, Durst not only directs, but also co-wrote the script, which is said to be based on a real life incident Durst had with a fan. LOOSELY based, I’m sure.
John Travolta plays Moose, an obsessive autograph collector, who is consumed by getting a signature from his favourite action hero, Hunter Dunbar.
Dunbar is played by Devon Sawa of Final Destination fame, and I have to say, it’s great to see him gracing screens again. I always thought he showed great promise in films like Idle Hands, Slackers and SLC Punk. (He also pops up in Escape Plan 3, which I will review very soon).
While The Fanatic has been universally panned by critics and viewers alike, I actually did not mind it at all. It’s quite obviously low budget fair, but it is pretty well executed. Travolta does a decent job of getting across the obsession, and we actually feel for him – at least to begin with.
Sawa initially comes across as a total heel, and we sympathise with Moose as a result. He’s a little pushy, but all he wants is an autograph. But as the movie progresses, and Moose’s obsession is taken to the extreme, our sympathies will switch.
The obsessed fan thriller is nothing new, having been done in countless movies, including The Fan (1996), Play Misty For Me (1971) and absolutely perfected in Misery (1990) among others. Perhaps the fact that The Fanatic rehashes an old formula is what turned audiences away?
The direction is pretty good, the dialogue is acceptable, even the moments of angry acting aren’t too ridiculous when in context. And while Travolta’s best years are behind him, this is arguably his best role in a while. Seriously. He pulls off mentally unstable very well – only Nicholas Cage would have been better.
The Fanatic is really good at the creepy and awkward moments, and made me feel completely uncomfortable at times.