Cinematic Releases: A Hollywood Nightmare: The Fanatic (2019) - Reviewed

Fred Durst once again tries his hand at full length directing and succeeds at creating a modern, tension laced feature that sees John Travolta in one of his best roles in years. 

Breaking away from many of the ultra low budget, straight to home video type films he's been doing for the last half decade, Mr. Travolta goes fully down the rabbit hole into another career defining moment that sees him prove his dramatic worth as a fanatical man that's about ready to unleash his pent up rage on the world. Taking hints from projects like Taxi Driver or Nightcrawler, this never quite reaches the heights of those two amazing movies, but borrows many themes and elements that are absolutely apparent. Much like Travis Bickle, Travolta's Moose is just looking for a place to fit in socially. As his tiny world crumbles around him, things devolve into ultra violence and some moments of head turning brutality. 

With two other features in the rear view mirror, including The Longshots and The Education of Charlie Banks, Durst is here to prove that he's not a one trick pony. Obviously, he's still the singer of the rap metal outfit Limp Bizkit but further proves his creative skill set with a movie that's like a dynamic wrecking ball, set on blast, ready to destroy all preconceived notions. Despite some strange editing and a conclusion that's far too simple, The Fanatic is something you must see to believe. Durst's unique directorial merits include the willingness to go against the standard Hollywood constructs by unleashing this movie onto the world. At the tail end of summer's blockbuster season, this is a unique character piece that does something a bit different. If anything, this could have used an extra twenty minutes in the third act. 

BoRics really screwed up my hair. 

The Fanatic is not going to win any awards, but it's a unique vision of current Hollywood and how those of a deteriorated emotional state might take their obsession to the next level. Numerous other films have tackled this subject matter including the 1996 feature The Fan. Durst's movie modernizes the idea, strips it down, and comes back full force with a Travolta we haven't seen since the '90s. He is fully engaged in this role. 

Centered on an awkward man that's obsessed with the film works of his favorite action star, The Fanatic spins a bloody web that satirizes Hollywood fame, social media, and the state of mental care in our country. As a thriller, this is a must watch that doesn't meander or pander to its audience. Nothing is off limits. This is a hardcore commentary on where we are as a society and how an obsession with fame can taint our connection to reality. With Travolta on full tilt and Devon Sawa paving the way for some type of career resurgence, I won't say this is one of the greatest of 2019, but it doesn't deserve the critical pounding it's getting. 

The Fanatic definitely qualifies as a thriller. But, it's also a horror film in many ways. Its story is a horrific tale of a lonely man that needs acceptance, despite the challenges of what is most likely Durst's attempt at portraying Asperger's on screen. Moose's life is hard. He doesn't fit in anywhere. And he struggles daily to make money to survive by busking on the streets. When he gets a chance to meet his on-screen idol, the story shifts into terror mode, letting us see the graphic details of Moose's ordeal and Sawa's Hunter Dunbar contemplating the difference between his cinematic portrayals and real life.

Don't listen to everyone else. See this one for yourself. Then decide if it was worth your time. 

-Chris George