Hell Fest: a fantasy film for Haunters.
Let me clarify that headline.
By “Haunter”, I’m referring to anyone who works or has an interest in the Haunted House industry. There are a lot of us out there, and whether we dabble in the creation of haunts or just appreciate them, we’ve all fantasized about what one could do with an unlimited budget. I know Chris from Thirty Knapp Road and I have certainly had those conversations. Director Gregory Plotkin’s Hell Fest exhibits not only a plot revolving around haunts, but some satisfying concepts for the theme park itself. Monsters and mayhem to suit every taste. Haunters will thrill at the sheer amount of concept work here. Through some movie magic, the park presents concepts that would even exceed the film’s budget. Rides, special effects, make-up and animatronics all creep through the scenes of this horror tale. This is the no holds barred haunt event of our nightmares and though it is a bit unrealistic for the plot (it is supposed to be a traveling event), I think most audiences would happily suspend disbelief when they see some of the gorgeous and gory scenery. Though not Plotkin’s first feature as director, that would be Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, Hell Fest is unique enough to become the Get Out editor’s calling card.
Outside of the fantastic park itself, Hell Fest is also a solid contemporary slasher film. The film looks great and I was surprised to see that the budget was only 5.5 million dollars. Plotkin’s editing skills truly come into play and he has the audience convinced that Hell Fest is a sprawling theme park, instead of the few sets it likely took up. This is a nice relief from some of the low budget slashers of the last few years.
Hell Fest looks like a movie made with care. That is important through the last shot.
The script is solid and had many contributors, such as horror maven Stephen Susco and former G4 contributor Blair Butler. I’d normally list all of the writers but, holy crap, there are many. This results in a script that has a few rough patches, it’s not all Shakespeare, but the film never grinds to a halt. The vibrant cast often saves the momentum and I can’t honestly say that the dialogue in even the best Friday The 13th films is really any better. While the film does not contain any mind-blowing moments, some of the kills are quite unique and there are enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. Outside of one moment near the end, I can’t think of anything that stuck out as notably ridiculous either.
Hell Fest is far from a perfect film, but it is a fun one.
It is also one that I suspect will have a cult following in years to come.