review by Bobby Blakey
I love a good slasher flick but sadly most of the horror films getting the big screen release these days focus more on the haunting horror genre. The latest from Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension director Gregory Plotkin, Hell Fest looks to fix that problem. It features a good cast including Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Roby Attal, Matt Mercurio, and Tony Todd, but does it bring anything new to the slasher world or will it be too scared to make it through the maze?
Hell fest follows college student Natalie who is visiting her childhood best friend Brooke and her roommate Taylor. If it was any other time of year these three and their boyfriends might be heading to a concert or bar, but it is Halloween which means that like everyone else they will be bound for Hell Fest – a sprawling labyrinth of rides, games, and mazes that travels the country and happens to be in town. Every year thousands follow Hell Fest to experience fear at the ghoulish carnival of nightmares. But for one visitor, Hell Fest is not the attraction – it is a hunting ground. An opportunity to slay in plain view of a gawking audience, too caught up in the terrifyingly fun atmosphere to recognize the horrific reality playing out before their eyes.
I try to keep expectations for these kinds of film low because sadly more often than not they fail to deliver. While this one isn’t breaking down any walls in the genre is still managed to be a lot of fun. In these kinds of movies the young adults are usually pretty annoying and this one is no different, but I found them to get better as the film progressed. With any slasher film you have to have a good killer for the film to work and be memorable. This one does offer up a simplistic and memorable look, but I was initially a little disappointed with the overall vibe of him until the final moments of the film. The direction they take it totally sold me making him an even more interesting character.
With these films it has become less common to get the fun gore and while this one doesn’t offer up a ton of it is does bring the blood in some fun kills. Most of them are pretty generic classic stabs, but the couple of over the top kills we do get are great gory fun. What really helps this film stand out is the visual tone of it all. It being set in this Halloween theme park of sorts makes it a non-stop visual treat for all the Halloween fans out there. Gone is the usual running through houses or buildings and instead everything is in these haunted houses and rides surrounded by some awesome décor and horror elements. The film isn’t scary, but does play up the jump scares so those that typicallyf all victim to them will be jumping fairly often.
This is one of those slasher films that gave me just what I hoped it would be but the added Halloween theme and ending took it to another level it would not have had otherwise. If you are a fan of the slashers then give it a try and decided for yourself.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including a trailer and “making of” featurette to take fans deeper behind the terror at the park. Head into the depths of hell when Hell Fest available now on Digital and then on 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD on January 8th from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.