Horror Club: Hell Fest
It's officially October - the one month out of the year where our obsession with death, skulls, blood and gore don't seem so out of the ordinary. In theaters October 2018, movie goers can go see some of the most iconic films of the year like The Nun or the to-be-released Halloween film, but excitement has also been growing around an additional movie that just hit theaters this weekend: HELL FEST. Directed by Gregory Plotkin (who directed Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension and edited Get Out and Happy Death Day), Hell Fest follows the story of six young adults who snag tickets to a every Halloween-lovers dream festival called Hell Fest; it's a traveling horror theme park that features everything a Halloween festival should include: classic carnival games and food, mazes, actors running around in masks and costumes, alcohol, and of course, the haunted houses. But Hell Fest truly becomes hell for the group of friends who venture into the ginormous horror festival as Natalie (played by Amy Forsyth) begins to believe that she is being followed around the park by a strange, off-putting masked man who she originally runs into inside one of the houses where, unbeknownst to Natalie, she witnesses the man actually murder another young woman right before her eyes. As her and her friends travel throughout the park, the same masked man eerily pops up everywhere she goes, and she begins to believe that she is being fucked with by the actor. Before you know it, the chase is on as the masked slasher - known as "The Other" - hunts down each of the friends - one by one - and kills them in entertaining, creative and surprisingly gory ways.
Right off the bat, it's worth noting that the trailers that were released for the movie don't really do the film justice. And honestly, after seeing it I can kind of understand why it might have been a little difficult to piece together a trailer for this movie without actually spoiling any of the highlights of the film. So if you're just judging this movie based off the theatrical trailers released, I definitely want to stress that the movie is better than the trailers make it out to be, and I'm sure many will understand what I'm saying after checking out Hell Fest for themselves. With that out of the way, Hell Fest turned out to be an overall awesome film! While the story may have a few plot holes (especially towards the end, but in an attempt to not totally spoil the film I'm not going to say what), the story was actually really well written and flowed really nicely. A killer roaming around inside of a haunted house - dressed like a dozen other characters you'll encounter inside of the haunt - cutting up a group of friends on Halloween night - how could you go wrong?! The team behind Hell Fest didn't do much wrong with their take on the slasher genre, and it's a pretty fun, unique chase through haunted ride-along dark rides, haunted houses, and scare zones. Sure, it's not anything you probably haven't seen before nor is Hell Fest a groundbreaking, genre defining flick by any means, but don't be so quick to brush it off: it's filled with a very likable, fun group of friends and the chase it's self is wildly entertaining.
Story and action aside, the visuals in Hell Fest are nothing short of amazing: there's plenty of footage of both new and old haunted house elements and themes, and the houses the friends enter look SICK. I can't say I've ever been in a haunted house that was big enough for you to run around in or give your friends piggy back rides in, but that's besides the point: these haunts are the types of scares Halloween enthuasists dream of, and you get to see plenty of awesome scares as the friends work their way through each haunt, each getting progressively scarier and even physical. The acting was pretty authentic feeling and enjoyable, which added to the fun factor of Hell Fest. Oh, and it has Tony Todd in it - while his appearance is brief, it's fucking awesome. But let's talk about "The Other" for a minute... this dude is downright disturbing. The mask that the Other rocks is an empty eyed, crooked face that is so unsettling just on its own. Throw in his eerie silence and the hood that he dawns and you have the making for a pretty memorable villain. There are scenes in the movie where you see his creepy nature and it's pretty awesome - again, nothing we haven't seen from other films like The Strangers or even the classic Halloween or Friday the 13th films, but definitely not the worst I've ever seen.
For a movie that almost just feels like an ode to classic slasher movies of our childhood combined with an appreciation for Samhain festivals around the country, Hell Fest delivers enough that I'd say go check it out, especially if you're looking to kick-off October and get yourself into the horror mood (if you're not a year-round fiend like ourselves!). If you're watching this in the middle of June, yeah, you might not appreciate it as much as you would these next few weeks but it's definitely not a bad movie by any means. If anything, it at least helped set the tone for the rest of the month as we build up to haunted house season and the reason for the season all together: Halloween! While it may not be a must-see, it's a fun flick that will at least make you happy October is finally here.