1 October 2018 | RforFilm
Hell Fest may be a typical, slasher, but it's haunt and park imagery is really cool and atmospheric
October is upon us again! This means that along with the beautiful autumn colors that emerge, the spooky season of Halloween also returns. Along with the jack o' lanterns, fun size candy, and parities, this is also when the often popular haunts come to town. These haunts cater to those that want something genuinely scary, as if they've stepped into their favorite horror movies...without the serial killers of course. I've only been to a few and have had more laughs then fears. This is because I more appreciate the haunts in a similar way a stage show is pulled off.
So why are there dedicated fans that keep going further with mazes where they tough you (yes, they can do that)? Again, it's a part of the Halloween atmosphere that a part of the escapism people desire. We already know were going to survive the night, but we love to see if our internal suspension of disbelief can activate and put us in the fear we want. I can understand it can be too intense for a lot of people, but again, it's all a part of the season. It's nice to see a movie like Hell Fest to set a slasher within a haunt park.
A young college student Natalie (Played by Amy Forsyth) is visiting her former roommate Brooke (played by Reign Edwards) and classmate Taylor (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus). Not only are they going to the haunt park Hell Fest, but their meeting up with friends, including Gavin (played by Robby Attal) who got everyone V.I.P. passes (which means no line waiting). Along with the various people coming in, they see that Hell Fest of full of scare actors, several mazes to explore and even an entire land called "the Deadlands" where the actors are allowed to touch and go further with their scares.
The problem? An unnamed person enters the park and into the mazes and starts randomly killing off guests. Our heroes don't see anything wrong until this guy acquires a mask and starts to stalk them around. At first they dismiss him as a really good actor, but when friends start disappearing, they got more uneasy. Even when they try talking to security (who tells them that he can arrest someone for doing their job), they don't seem to have a lot of options. The further they get to the Deadlands, the more they feel like they've descended into hell.
So by reading this, you can already tell that Hell Fest follows a lot of slasher tropes that we've seen before; the group of college kids, unresponsive authority, walking along somewhere, killer with a mask, and such. This will definitely not appeal to those looking for a new kind of horror movie (like Hereditary). This seems to be more proud that it's trying to be a typical slasher. Because of that, I didn't mind it. A lot of it has to do with it's setting and atmosphere.
Hell Fest is full of theme park-like Halloween imagery that looks really cool. I was afraid they would try to pull off haunt mazes that only Hollywood effects teams were capable of. Instead, each maze has the right balance of over the top gory, but also over the top fakery. This feels like something that would be built at Knott's Berry Farm or Universal Studios. Part of me really wants to visit this place...without the killing of course. Even the scare actors seems spot on with some coming up to them at random points, and some in full makeup hosting scary shows about guillotines.
Story is minimal as the what's served is an excuse to show off the park. The main actors like Amy Forsyth and Bex Taylor-Klaus do fine in their parts. Their interesting enough that we'd want to visit the park with them. Even when they are eventually chased by the killer (I swear, I don't even think they gave him a name), we do want to see them survive. Also like a lot of slashers, without giving anything away, it does tease for a potential sequel in a trope manner we've seen before. I'd, however, would love to see this continue.
I'll give this seven tickets to Knott's Scary Farm out of ten. Hell Fest may be a typical slasher, but it's so atmospheric, that those that have been to these haunts will probably like it fine. It's hard to phrase it or be critical as it's also short, running no more then eighty-five minutes. It's a fun watch. So see it and understand it's all a prt of the show.