Geektoberfest: Respectful Reel Review #20 — Hell Fest (2018)

MOVIE TITLE:

Hell Fest

IMDB YEAR RELEASED:

2018

GENRE:

Horror / Slasher

STARRING:

Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Matt Mercurio, Roby Attal, Tony Todd, Michael Tourek, Courtney Dietz, and Stephen Conroy

DIRECTED BY:

Gregory Plotkin

SUMMARY:

When a group of teenagers attend a horror-themed amusement park, they wind up becoming part of the attraction as a masked serial killer begins to take them out one by one in the most gruesome and creative ways.

TAGLINE:

Fun getting in. Hell getting out.

PLOT:

Hell Fest is a horror-themed park that is open annually during autumn. In the beginning, there’s a cold-open kill where a masked killer kills a college-aged woman and hangs her corpse in a maze as one of the props.

Fast forward to the following year, when Natalie arrives at Brooke’s apartment. Brooke and Natalie were bestfriends, but lately their friendship has been strained because they live far apart and Brooke has developed a friendship with another girl, Taylor, who is loud, obnoxious, and has no filter. Taylor is one of those people who thinks that “telling it like it is” means being rude and judgmental instead of toxic and repugnant.

As part of Natalie and Brooke’s reunion, Brooke has tickets to a theme park. She wants to make their reunion memorable by organizing a group hang-out at the park, so Brooke has invited her boyfriend, Quinn, Taylor and her boyfriend, Asher, and Gavin who apparently has met Natalie the previous summer.

While at the festival, the group (now three couples) goes into a haunted house attraction where the men are separated from the women. While in the haunted house attraction, the women encounter a terrified woman who screams for help, but when the friends do nothing to help her, she hides. The stalker killer makes an appearance, and looks at Natalie who is alone because the others continued without her. Natalie, believing this to just be part of the fun, points out where the terrified woman is hiding. The killer grabs the woman and dispatches the woman in front of Natalie. Natalie now feels that the killing seemed very real.

She hurriedly rejoins her friends and tells them about the killing, but they all believe that it is all part of the attraction. When Natalie and Gavin go into a photo booth to take pictures, the killer swipes the pictures. Brooke notices that the killer took the pictures, and she goes after him, but then she gets spooked recognizing that she is in an isolated place where she could very easily be killed.

Then, the fun begins. I feel that part of the “enjoyment” that I get from watching a slasher is not just who gets killed, but how they get killed, so I will stop here and move on to my review.

REVIEW:

I always like to start with caveats, in order for nonreaders of the blog to get an idea of my sensibilities and to re-fresh the minds of long-time readers. Above all things, I am a Horror Geek. I was a teenager in the eighties, when the slasher sub-genre was birthed by the unique alchemy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, and Friday the 13th. All three of those movies are in my Top Ten Horror Movies list (way back in post 4 and 5).

So having said that I want to make clear that my opinion is skewed and a little bit jaded by a lifetime of watching horror movies (at times almost exclusively). In my humble opinion, this is a really good horror movie and an exceptional slasher made by someone who understands the tropes — how to manipulate them to greatest effect, and ignore the expectations to do something unique and utterly satisfying.

I recognize that this movie has been largely panned by critics, but I have never much cared for the hoity toity opinions of elitist critics that largely ignore horror movies anyway. The directing is really good. The cinematography and shot selection is really good. The blocking is perfect for optimizing scares. The script is a little generic, but the theme park motif is brilliantly scouted and although the theme park conveys fun, it also adds creep-factor.

Anyone who has ever gone to a Six Flags horror event can empathize. Hell Fest is infinitely more horrific. The mood is portrayed with an eye to the dichotomy between festive and scary. When the young people enter the park, there are clowns that pose to take pictures with those entering the park. They are just doing their job, whooping it up and being silly, while suddenly the killer bumps into one of the clowns, a not-so subtle look and the killer puts on a mask. Yes, there will be some fun tonight.

Listen, the acting is not very good. The young actors are chosen because they look nice and they work cheap. The $5 million spent on this movie was used on props, visual effects, and sound design. I am most impressed with director Gregory Plotkin. Although he has made many horror films, with Happy Death Day including a slasher, I think this is his first attempt at trying to create a slasher franchise with the killer called, The Other.

I will not belabor the point. I liked this movie a great deal. I love the theme park concept. I like the idea of trying to create a franchise with this killer. I love the ending, which I will not spoil here. I enjoyed the unflinching kills. There is a lot to love here.

I give Hell Fest (2018) 4 out of 5 Grey Geeks for its overarching theme park idea.

All righty, you awesomely, gorgeous people, as always I thank you for reading our posts. Please comment if you will. Press the like button, if you can. We love you. See you. Peace!

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