Simple Review- Certainly felt like being in Hell
It is that time of the year when the weather cools off a bit, the leaves start to turn beautiful colors and horror movies rise from the grave to entertain us for Halloween. As a fan of the horror genre, I am well aware of the hit and miss nature of these flicks. Hollywood loves throwing out cheaply made horror movies to make a quick profit. Most are disposable, and as such, I usually go in with low expectations. This week we are offered up Hell Fest as a sacrifice to the horror movie gods. Will I enjoy the festival from hell, or will I find it a bogus adventure? ( Bill and Ted reference, bonus points) The only way to find out is to grab your VIP pass and meet me at the front of the line to ride Hell Fest.
Much like last week, the offering at the local cinema this weekend did not conjure up any excitement for me. Naturally, I gravitated to Hell Fest hoping for a pleasant horror surprise. For those unaware, Hell Fest tells the tale of a group of friends as they attend a massive horror-themed amusement park looking for some thrills, only to be stalked by a masked killer blending in with the cast of the park. Terror ensues, and by “terror” I mean absurdity. Yes, my reliable reader, this is one bad horror flick! I had mild hope this film might surprise me, as director Gregory Plotkin has worked on such films as Get Out and Happy Death Day, both good horror films. Alas, Gregory is no “kin” to “plot”, and it shows. (See what I did? His last name is Plotkin, see, and I switched it around. Oh shut up, how much did you pay to read this mess?) Let me begin with the positives brought to us by Hell Fest, then we will gut this mutha!
I enjoyed the premise of this film. I have frequented many haunted houses and haunted mazes over the years, and each year the special makeup effects and props get more and more realistic making these places extra creepy. A killer in one of these movies could have a field day in this environment, and a clever director could use these attractions to come up with some wild horror moments. Unfortunately, I said a CLEVER director, but we will get to that later. To its credit, Hell Fest has a couple of tense moments, one involving a cell phone text alert going off closer and closer to the intended victim, and another scene in a room with creepy cloaked mannequins that our heroes hide in. Outside of that, nothing much in the way of scares. I did like the “reveal” of the killer, as it didn’t bore us with some convoluted backstory for him. The only other positive is the brief appearance of horror legend Tony Todd, who makes every horror movie he is in a little bit better. Ready to put on your hockey mask and terrorize this movie? Me too!!
Hell Fest absolutely wastes its premise. The kills in this movie could have been creative had the filmmakers used the attractions of the park to either set up the kills or used them to have the killer incorporate the victims in the mazes. Instead, the kills are just bland, outside of the first kill in the movie. ( I hope you understand I mean the kills are boring in a horror movie universe, not the real world. Should I have talked down to you like that? I apologize) For an R rated movie, the gore is limited and this felt like a PG-13 movie for most of the time. I don’t understand why they held back given all the opportunities they had to have fun and freak us out. The film sets up this huge, crowded Halloween attraction as packed with people, yet every time the killer stalks his prey, there is no one around other than his intended victims. No one accidentally stumbles into the scene as he kills someone and not one worker in the park notices this guy behind the scenes. Yes, he does have a mask to blend in, but no one ever says, ” Hey buddy we need you down at the haunted school attraction” or ” Hey buddy, you aren’t supposed to be back here.” That could have upped the kill count and added to the perceived ” invincibility” of the killer.
The cast is pretty forgettable, with only Bex Taylor-Klaus having fun with her role. To be fair to the actors, the dialogue is abysmal and I wondered if, at any point during the filming, one of them ever spoke up and said: ” normal people do not talk like this”. It sounded like a script written by an old person that thinks this is the way young people talk. The characters fill their roles as we have the one that only talks about sex and the tough one and the innocent goody goody. Way to think outside of the box filmmakers! My favorite moments were when characters would get mad at the people in the park dressed up to randomly scare them, because, you know, who goes to a massive Halloween themed amusement park to be scared by people. Just slap you in the face dumb. Does anyone try to be remotely creative when they write this stuff? Maybe I am asking too much.
Other complaints are “Hollywood-isms” that apply to horror movies, that add to the stupidity. Apparently, the killer has the power to teleport around the park, and he knows exactly where our heroes are at every moment even when they randomly run in and out of buildings. He shows up to kill one as she has volunteered to be part of a staged scene in the park. So he had to know she would volunteer, get the right costume on and know exactly where he was supposed to stand on the stage. Why is he wasting time killing people, he should be robbing banks. Another fun slap to the face, this particular amusement park uses real knives and axes that anyone has access to. Scratch that, only the killer knows are real, as the heroes only grab the fake props to defend themselves. Ugh, I am getting angry just writing this stuff. I didn’t expect greatness but give me some sign of effort so I don’t feel sad about wasting my time and money.
OK, I have to end this rambling dreck as my blood pressure is starting to rise uncontrollably. I do not recommend this movie one bit. It is a horror movie that has nothing fun or exciting about it and feels like the filmmakers just followed the outline of all the other bad horror movies out there. If you need to see a horror movie using this premise check out The Funhouse Massacre, which is over the top fun, or get in the way back machine and check out Tobe Hoopers’ The Funhouse, a hidden gem that is creepy as f$@k!
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As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho