I smell a cult classic in the making. Well, it’s certainly going to try and be one depending on how good it is. I mean, a horror amusement park with real kills. Honestly, it’s a wonder how this idea hasn’t been made into a movie so far. Better late than never, I suppose.
The story looks like it’s about a visiting friend and a group of them head out to a Halloween/horror-themed amusement park and think it’s all fun thrills, but soon realize that they’re being stalked by a real killer
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Amy Forsyth (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming BEAUTIFUL BOY ), Reign Edwards (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Bex Taylor-Klaus (THE LAST WITCH HUNTER , and upcoming films DISCARNATE  and DUMPLIN’ ), Christian James (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and the upcoming LEGAL ACTION ), and Courtney Dietz (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-editing, we have Gregory Plotkin, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Making a red flag total of three writers, we have Seth M. Sherwood (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Akela Cooper (3 episodes of LUKE CAGE [2016 – ongoing] and THE 100 [2014 – ongoing]), and- *double take* Blair Butler?? Wait… no… the Blair Butler?? As in-
Former G4TV’s ATTACK OF THE SHOW’s comic expert, Blair Butler??? THAT Blair Butler?? Holy piss-fuck, it is! Blair fucking Butler is one of the writers for this movie!! Why did it take me this long to know this?? Dude! I’ve suddenly never been so excited in my life to see a horror movie! Fuck yeah! Well she’s certainly written for ATTACK OF THE SHOW, of course, but it looks like she’s got herself an upcoming film, also written by her, POLARIOD (2019). Shit, gonna keep an eye out for that. Anywho, composing the score is the ever-amazing Bear McCreary, known for CLOVERFIELD PARADOX (2018), HAPPY DEATH DAY (2017), THE BOY (2016), and upcoming films I STILL SEE YOU (2018) and WELCOME HOME (2018). The cinematographer is José David Montero, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of, and upcoming films TRADING PAINT (2018) and FINDING STEVE MCQUEEN (2018). Finally, Plotkin’s co-editor is David Egan, known for GAME NIGHT (2018).
Overall, BLAIR BUTLER IS WRITING THIS MOVIE!!! STOKED!!! Co-writing, I know, but anyone’s name that used to be associated with ATTACK OF THE SHOW is immediately going to spark my interest, no matter what. So while the movie may be meh, Blair Butler attached to anything makes this a worthwhile watch for me.
This is my honest opinion of: HELL FEST
It’s Halloween time and the popular amusement park Hell Fest is in town and long time best friends Natalie (Amy Forsyth) and Brooke (Reign Edwards), as well as a group of their horror-loving friends are all going. However, they’re not alone in amusement park, and not just because of the other patrons. Years ago, a young woman was murdered by a masked man, many believing her corpse to be a prop before realizing the reality. The masked killer returns and has fixated on Natalie and her friends, killing them off one by one.
Meh, it’s not great, but not that bad. So far, that’s where I’m sitting.
For one thing, it’s quite a testament to how not scary a horror movie is if I’m not covering an ear. Yeah, I do that. Even with the worst of horror movies that I’ve seen over the years, I usually make a habit of covering an ear. It’s likely more out of the idea of a scene playing out really quietly and then, LOUD NOISE, which not only makes me jump, makes me annoyed, but hurts my hearing. There’s gotta be some kind of study that suggests these kind of horror movies are bad for a person’s hearing. Anyway, this movie is so boring that I never even did that. So as someone who kind of hates horror movies, really consider this.
As for the movie as a whole, eh, it’s a cliché fest. Pun intended. There’s ninja walkers. You know what I’m talking about. A quiet-ass area and yet somehow someone manages to sneak up on the unsuspecting person… even though when you’re freaking out, your senses are on such high alert you could hear an ant scurry by, let alone a hundred and seventy pound dude who wasn’t even trying to sneak up on her, somehow successfully sneaks up on her. Fuck I hate that shit. This movie even had one of the most laughably bad jump scares I’ve seen in awhile. You know when someone opens a big door, closes it, and then the scary person is just right there? Well, this movie is so lazy about it that you actually see the masked person walk up to the big door. But, the movie still blares its surprise noise as if I’m stupid and didn’t obviously see that. And of course, there’s everyone who doesn’t believe. Sure, in the beginning, it makes a little bit of sense, but an employee of this big amusement park isn’t exactly as common as this movie wants me to believe. If an employee is stalking, I think a guest has a right to report on the abnormal behavior. Even if the person’s face can’t be identified, security has to do something about it, especially if a male employee goes into the female restroom. I won’t pretend to know what Disneyland or Knots Berry Farm’s rules are during Halloween, but I’m pretty sure they’ll confirm some of my suspicions. Weird moments where the killer doesn’t kill the final girl because… reasons… and of course no cell phone reception. Can’t have a horror film with that bullshit. Sure, she can text just as well, but not
And most of the characters were annoying. Especially when I have to constantly watch them suck face. It’s like, I get it, you’re a couple. Could you please do something else other than make out?! And who makes out at a horror-themed ride anyway? Don’t you want to see the creative sets and props and pay attention to the scares that have been built around you? It’s not the fucking tunnel of love.
About the best thing this movie has going for it is the acting and the chemistry between some of the characters. Forsyth is a rather solid actress and carries the film effectively. I especially enjoy her scenes with her romantic interest Gavin, played by Roby Attal. Their don’t even feel like acting, but rather like two friends just hanging out. I really wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of their scenes were improvised. If not, then these two deserve to go on to bigger and better projects in the future as they are that talented and believable together. Their relationship is cute, goofy, but feels genuine. I appreciated that.
That’s the best that I can say. Everyone else was annoying as hell.
If I were to change anything, I would have it so that security actually does something about the killings and then the masked killer starts killing random people in the panicked frenzy, getting separated, forced into mazes or areas that the authorities fail to reach in time before another victim is killed. Maybe he has to change masks while avoiding security and the cops. There’s always an evacuation spot, right? So maybe the killer starts killing in the parking lot too. I don’t know, there’s something smarter that can be done with this idea. Should a sequel get made, I hope that this idea is considered.
Let’s tackle the violence. Actually, some of them are pretty fun and creative. In the opening titles, a girl’s corpse is hanged and as the camera pulls back, she legit does look like she’d be a part of the set of the haunted house. There’s a gory death by someone’s head getting smashed with a strong-man’s mallet. Another gets a syringe plunged into his eyeball. That had me squirming in my seat, but that’s because I hate syringes. I’ve not had a flu shot in at least two to three years and I plan to have that continue. With that said, even the violence gets lazy toward the end. Like, you’ve seen this in the trailer, Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus) is trapped in a guillotine and the blade is about to come down to chop her head off. First of all, that’s a real blade?? In an amusement park?? Dude, does this park not have a standard on safety regulations?! Second, she doesn’t die like that. No, the blade comes down and it’s stopped by a thick-ass necklace chain of hers and eventually breaks free. Oh, she still dies in a minute, but… it’s via a stabbing. A… stabbing. So does her boyfriend a second later. Two of the main-ish characters get axed off in about the most boring way possible. Lame. So… so lame.
Finally, I don’t know how I feel about this ending. Okay, everyone knows the masked killer won’t die because Natalie is a dumb-ass who didn’t pick up the damned ax to finish the killer off, but then we cut to him entering his house. Uh… okay, this is pretty rare for a slasher film. Then we get a cabinet of Halloween masks and what I can only assume are trophies from previous kills, walks inside a quaint living room and is greeted, not by an upcoming victim, which is obvious, but the killer’s loving daughter. Yes! The killer is a father! I… have no idea what this movie wants me to do with this information. Unique ending, I give it that, but… I’m lost. Emotionally.
Overall, meh. The movie has a great premise to it, has a fine-ish enough first half, thanks to the talents of a couple of the actors and some fun death scenes, but then the movie flatlines later, falling into some dumb territory. And ultimately, it’s just not scary. I’m sure this will find some measure of popularity with horror aficionados. I’ve got a co-worker whom I suspect with eat this up. But as for me and the community at large waiting for a good horror movie, this isn’t it. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s just not as good as it should be. As a recommendation, horror fans will likely see it no matter how good or bad it is, but everyone else ain’t missing much.
My honest rating for HELL FEST: 3/5
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