It’s now been 16 days since Halloween. You know what that means? Time for another Halloween movie! Yes, really. I don’t know either. It’s unfortunate scheduling really, as a Halloween release date might have bought the film an audience. Or, at the very least, it may have allowed for some sort of good will from the audience as the film otherwise has nothing at all going for it.
A masked serial killer uses the opportunity of a theme park on Halloween to commit a gruesome murder. Three years on and he makes a visit to a different theme park. This time round he has his sights on three girls and their respective love interests. They came out to have the night of their lives, not knowing that it would be the last night of their lives.
There’s really not that much to say about Hell Fest as, despite its title, it’s not particularly Helli-sh or Fest-ish. That’s not to say nothing bad happens, there’s some gory and eye-wincing murder taking place with the odd few decent scares along the way. The problem is, we’ve seen them all before and seen them done far better.
The central six are hazily sketched out archetypes (timid girl, bossy girl, show-off girl, macho man, other macho man and less macho man) for whom we are provided so little reason to invest in, that there’s no real payout when they are in jeopardy.
We follow them as they are followed throughout the theme park. All the expected jumps are there, usually signposted a mile off by cinematography the equivalent of creepy heavy breathing. Whilst it’s an interesting premise, the park itself is rendered in a way that may invoke envy/wanderlust from die-hard horror fans in the audience, the film overall is so lacking in scope, ingenuity and vision. It’s the equivalent of a slasher tick-box exercise.
Writing this review is a difficult exercise, even when equipped with the notes made during my screening, as there’s very little that is actually memorable about it. When choosing to watch a horror film you’re searching for that primal terror, you want to feel as if you are in that horrific moment, wondering what you would do if you were trapped or in pursuit. What you don’t want to find yourself thinking is how much insurance would cost for this kind of venue, what the evacuation policies would be and how many of the immersive performers (who are very touch-feely-in-your-facey) would get punched by fearful guests each season. That’s when you end up making your own storyline as the one playing out in front of you is so far from gripping you begin to rely on your own imagination to fufill the otherwise absent fear you came searching for.
It’s not really a trick or a treat. Think throwaway instead.
Dir: Gregory Plotkin
Scr: William Penick, Christopher Sey, Stephen Susco, Blair Butler, Seth M. Sherwood, Akela Cooper
Cast: Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, Amy Forsyth, Tony Todd,Christian James
Prd: Gale Anne Hurd, Tucker Tooley
DOP: José David Montero
Music: Bear McCreary
Run time: 89 minutes
Hell Fest is in UK cinemas from Friday 16th November.