Review: Hell Fest

College student Natalie 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. As the body count and frenzied excitement of the crowds continues to rise, he turns his masked face to Natalie, Brooke, Taylor and their boyfriends who will fight to survive the night.

A terrifying thrill ride from iconic horror producer Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead, The Terminator) and director Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Editor – Get Out, Happy Death Day), this September, audiences will discover that it’s fun going in… but it’s hell getting out.

Plot: A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.

Director: Gregory Plotkin

Runtime: 89 min

Rating: Rotten Tomatoes 33% & IMDB 6.2/10 — Subject to change as the movie is in theaters.

Trailer (see below)

Review:

I always have an expectation when I go to the movies. Sometimes I expect to be blown away, sometimes I know it’s going to be a drama-filled-epic with big names, directors, Oscar buzz… you know what a mean. Other times I’ll expect something fun and light-hearted or your typical summer blockbuster superhero or action star. Horror & Slasher type of films like Hell Fest are it’s own beast.

Being a person, like me, that looks forward to going to the theaters to see a movie like Hell Fest have other expectations. Is it going to be cheesy? Will it steal from other movies in a negative way? Will there be cringe-worthy moments? Is it a waste of time?

Hell Fest is the type of movie that will benefit from the Halloween atmosphere. It’s the kind of movie that can’t live during any other time of the year. So, should you go see it because of the Halloween atmosphere? Yes.

If you plan to wait for a cheap rental night later this year – the time will have passed and you’ll miss the peak window. This is if you’re interested, if you’re in the middle or on the fence — I would say it’s safe for you to buy a ticket. There will be no major spoilers below, but some minor plot details will be discussed.

The first 15-minutes are like most typical horror films, a lot of detail and interaction that we don’t need. We all know most of the cast will be killed off, so why add cheesy backstory at all? Outside of that and on a positive note, the set design at the park was on point; this includes the rides, houses, surrounding atmosphere and costumes.

From there you know how it goes in a 89 minute slasher; frat boys, sexual gestures, alcohol, uncomfortable kill sequences and quick jump scares. Whip it all together and you have an immature group of friends on ‘Spring Break Hysteria’ with all the fixings of a horror movie, plus, some eye rolling and predictable moments.

The only thing that I have to throw dirt on are the VIP passes. At all major-theme parks these passes put you in better time windows, but there are still tons of people in and around these Haunted Houses. At many times these characters would be the only ones in a Haunted House, even to the point where a single individual would go through multiple rooms all alone. This doesn’t happen. Obviously for movie purposes it had to, I just wish there was something to explain it or at least meet us somewhere in the middle.

I’m sure you’re aware that this movie gives the impression for more potential films, as all movies like this do.

One thing I can say for sure; at the end of the day this is a good concept and I hope it can be expanded on in the future. It’s definitely what I signed up for and why I went to see it in the first place.

Realistically, we will have to see the numbers on Hell Fest as the weeks progress and we get closer to Halloween, but this has the making to be a good new franchise post Purge & Saw. I don’t say that blindly, if the buzz is on point and we can focus in and expand on the premise, I’d love to see a couple more of these put into production. The thing is, will it have the money to go to the next step?

Cheers,

Matt.