Hell Fest Review: When a killer stalks an amusement park

The 1970s was the era when moviegoers got the first-hand look at a slasher flick. Since then there has been a treasure trove of movies falling into the genre. A few of those movies moved on to become cult classics while the others whittled into forgottenness. This weekend audiences will see the release of Hell Fest, a horror movie that aims to reinvigorate the slasher genre.

Hell Fest follows Natalie (Amy Forsyth), who comes into town to visit her longtime friend Brooke (Reign Edwards). Upon arriving Natalie finds out that her love interest Gavin (Roby Attal) has purchased her a ticket to a traveling horror attraction called Hell Fest. Rounding out the group of friends who partake in this night of horror attractions is Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus), Asher (Matt Mercurio), and Quinn (Christian James). As the group of friends partakes in the night of scares at Hell Fest, their screams of terrifying enjoyment suddenly turn as they notice that a masked serial killer is hunting them throughout the park.

Hell Fest starts right out the gate by skipping the introduction of its main characters and focuses on the masked killer’s first victim. Within the first ten minutes, you get a clear idea of what the killer’s intentions are and who he chooses as his victims. That’s suddenly contrasted by introducing to us who the heroine will be. The next ten minutes, we are then subjected to the introduction of each character and that’s about as much as we’ll get for any type of character development.

The stars of Hell Fest have absolutely no depth to their characters. Essentially we’re given the same type of character that we see in every horror movie. You get the shy distant girl who’s forced to come out of her comfort zone. The boy who’s secretly in love with the heroine. You get the one overly machismo guy who’s dating the prettiest girl in the movie, and then you get the reckless characters who’s one job is to just enjoy life and has a strong desire for all things macabre. When we’re given a deeper look into the mind of the serial killer, we discover that he chooses his victims who apparently don’t frighten easily. It’s a believable motive given where the movie takes place, but at the same time, you can easily roll your eyes that the killer’s motive to murder is something so basic.

The set design for Hell Fest was something that stands out. The mazes that the cast go through are executed well, but unfortunately, that’s as far as they’ll go with the scares. The “horror” element of Hell Fest is often predictable and dry, and there was nothing done in this movie that we haven’t seen in other horror films. When you get to a scene with a character that finds themselves alone, you already know what’s coming up next. The jump scares aren’t the only things that came up short. With the exception of maybe two death scenes, the kills in Hell Fest felt very stale. What truly made them feel flat was that we didn’t get to really know who each character was, so when they eventually bit the bullet, you don’t feel any real sympathy for them, leaving you to shrug your shoulders and patiently wait to see if the next kill has some type of creativity to it.

If you’ve ever been to Halloween Horror Nights, Six Flags Fright Fest, or any other horror attraction and have ever wondered if there was someone out there who would take it too far, well then Hell Fest answers that curiosity for you. For ninety minutes Hellfest takes you on a ride of terror that comes off as a budget horror attraction. It takes the ideas that have been similarly played in movies like Halloween and Scream and tries to run with it to ignite the slasher genre, but halfway there, it tripped and fell flat on its face.

Score: 2.5/5 Atoms

Director: Gregory Plotkin
Starring: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Roby Attal, Matt Mercurio, Tony Todd, Stephen Conroy.
Production: Lionsgate, CBS Films
Runtime: 1 hr 29 mins
Rated: R
Release Date: September 28, 2018

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