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Hell Fest – Review

Hell Fest Review

Three girls take their boos for boos.

Six teens take a trip to Hell Fest, a huge horror-themed park bustling with visitors and costumed actors hired to scare. But in amongst the haunted houses and mazes a real masked killer latches on and starts stalking the group. Picking them off unnoticed in a place already filled with screams and ‘corpses’…

Director Gregory Plotkin is an established editor and cut three of the best genre films of recent times: Game Night, Happy Death Day and Get Out. However as director, his only prior credit is Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension.

Hell Fest is a throwback to 80s slasher horror in an unironic or knowing way, running through the same ideas. It’s aimed at teens and the conversations are inane, failing to develop anyone to care about. The forced fun they are trying to emote is grating and the “funny one” is so unbearable that it’s hard not to will her death.

There are some nice ideas in here, but they’re undeveloped. Here are three examples: (1) The park is an interesting setting and they make a couple of good points about the mechanics (“Look at the hands”) but it would been significantly more interesting if they had broken out from the little-to-say six-teen-friends cliche and had characters from across the setting, giving more insight and embracing random teen victims in an always busy locale. (2) A frail Tony Todd is wheeled out briefly as an MC for the park, his voice is still sinisterly wonderful, but it’s just a remember-this-guy cameo. In one accidental moment he seems to be talking directly to the killer over the tannoys. This could have been a good psychosis dynamic for a very underwritten villain. (3) There’s almost a dramatic public execution scene, which would have been a dynamite way of panicking the whole park. They cop out, but given what happens minutes later it would have been no inconvenience narratively…

What does work nicely are some of the performances in the final moments, since characters don’t react with any fear to the killer it becomes quite realistically conversational. The first main-cast murder is disturbing in part for this reason, while the final girl unwittingly encouraging a real murder is another good moment.

If you’re particularly drawn to old school slashers, and all their frustrating weaknesses, you’ll get some value from Hellfest.

Our Grade: C

Hell Fest is released in UK cinemas today.

See Where It Ranks In Our: 25 Best Horror Movies Of 2018

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One Comment »

  • gd smith said

    I’ve got to admit I really liked this. I like the linear simplicity . I thought the setting was cool. And the sting at the end was nice. I often wonder when I will outgrow the primitive pleasures of a slasher. Then I think have I ever outgrown ice cream, donuts or a grilled sandwich. No. The weird thing is I have lost a lot of my taste for things I used to think were more sophisticated or are presented as such. To me Hell Fest was like a good donut, where as something like Mother! or the Suspiria remake are like one of those deconstructed spin things you might see on Tv. I like donuts. I’m less keen on blobs of batter and fillings with a chef telling about why they decided not to make an actual donut

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