Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the slasher horror feature HELL FEST (2018) by director Gregory Plotkin. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.”
A confession for those who do not know me: I love haunted houses. While I was a more sporadic visitor of haunts during my teenage years, I have been a frequent guest at all sorts of spooky events for the past ten years. The plot of this alone had my attention long before the fun began.
That is right, this film is a lot of fun. There is a lot of humor in the character interplays that had me giggling all along the way. Of particular note is Bex Taylor Klaus whose manic performance alone is a linchpin of the piece. Her movements and expressions are just as amusing as her dialogue. In fact, on a whole, the dialogue is quite funny as the characters constantly rib one another throughout their night of terror.
The horror is really rather interesting in this movie as there is a decent sense that the killer could be around any corner. Sure, it is usually rather clear where our masked maniac is as he stalks the grounds, but there are some clever moments that toy with the audience’s perception of where our antagonist could be hiding. To be honest, though, I found the moments where the killer was in plain sight more effective as the stalking aspect of his personality was really intriguing.
The use of the haunted event as the backdrop provides for some excellent set and character designs. There is so much variety provided that this feels like a real, lived in world that these characters have just stepped into. This level of detail gave the events that unfolded a certain legitimacy that gave even the more ridiculous kills a grounded feel.
One thing worth commenting upon is the fact that this is definitely an R-rated picture. It seems like it has been a while since we have had a good, teenage slasher flick that did not strive to achieve a PG-13 rating. I respected that they went full tilt after a harder rating as I could not have imagined the dialogue being nearly as effective if it had been watered down.
All in all, this is an effective, fun slasher flick that seems ripe for a sequel. One of the reason I say that is the fact that this world seems so legitimate that I honestly want to spend more time exploring some of the dark, hinted at shadows. Fans of movies like Scream (1996) and The Funhouse Massacre (2015) should definitely give this a look.