Hell Fest is a slasher horror film that was directed by Gregory Plotkin and written by several different people. It follows a group of teens who are stalked by a serial killer while visiting a travelling Halloween carnival.
Hell Fest is introduced as a horror theme park, which travels across the country during the Halloween season. A young girl is shown to be separated from her group during one of the mazes. There, she is confronted by a masked figure. She recognizes that he had been following her and her group of friends the entire night. The imposing figure attacks the girl, stabbing her in the gut before hanging her. The young girl’s corpse appears to blend in with the other prop bodies as he leaves the scene.
Natalie & her group of friends have VIP wrist bands for Hell Fest, meaning they can skip lines. The group arrive at a haunted maze where Natalie, her friends Brooke and Taylor get separated from the group. As Natalie is about to finish the maze, a terrified young girl appears, dishevelled and in fear, telling Natalie that a man is after her. Natalie assumes it is part of the park experience as the masked killer arrives in search of Britney.
The killer sets his sights on Natalie, who deems him as not being scary before witnessing him stab and kill the young girl. Natalie notes that the murder seems very real, and leaves disturbed. After meeting back up with her friends, she turns and notices that he is watching them. She notices him a number of times, complaining to her friends that she feels he is stalking the group.
Will Natalie & her friends survive their visit to Hell Fest?
Firstly, the best aspect of Hell Fest is undoubtedly the use of a horror theme park as the backdrop for the film. The aesthetic is fantastic, it gives this movie buckets of atmosphere. Also, the cinematography is hugely effective. It is shot in a way that you as the viewer live vicariously through the characters as they endure each attraction and all of their scares. It seemed to me like the actors were having a lot of fun simply being there. Their dialogue has a natural, realistic feel to it in terms of their reactions as well. However, a major negative is that their characters are extremely underdeveloped. I found them likeable enough but I didn’t feel much when some of them met their eventual fates.
Still, the entire scenario that they are place into is a great idea. Naturally, they question everything they see. Like you, it’s hard for them to know if something they are seeing is real or not. The effects used throughout the park are all really well made. Unfortunately, a massive misstep in Hell Fest is that it sometimes purposely shies away from showing gore. What you do see is a glimpse but nothing more before it pans away. I know this was likely to hide its budgetary shortcomings but still.
The ending leaves you with plenty of questions. Personally, I liked the reveal and mystery of it all. Although, some may be hoping for a twist of some kind.
Hell Fest is a really fun horror flick that keeps you on your toes. It’s a little mindless and lacks rewatchabillity but it’s good on an initial view. On the whole, it’s a bit of a typical, cliche slasher film but one with a fantastic set. Turn off your brain and you’ll find some enjoyment here. If anything, it really made me want to visit a horror theme park. Hopefully one that doesn’t have a serial killer in a creepy mask skulking around though.