Hell Fest(Review)[Weirdo Wednesday]
have been waiting to see this movie since I first heard about it. The setup is campy but I dug it. A travelling haunted theme park has pulled into town, where the many actors and attendees are all dressed up, getting drunk, and performing acts of debauchery. The last time this park was set up though, they discovered a real dead body was being used as a prop in one of the mazes.
It’s a simple approach where we have one person taking advantage of the Halloween season to act out their most heinous impulses. They use the mazes to their advantage, where the authenticity of the murders aren’t even thought of until after the deed is done. When the killer stalks a select group of friends, the fun goes to uncomfortable levels very fast – especially at the 2nd half of the film when everyone goes to “The Dead Lands”, a section of the park where you must sign a waiver because the actors can touch you and anything can happen.
Where the film falls is in the development of the characters and the acting. The acting itself is good enough to get the job done, but nobody is going to win any awards for this thing. The characters themselves are presented as hollow tropes (like a traditional slasher movie), giving you easy reasons to love or hate our characters. At times I was rooting for the victims, and at times I was rooting for the killer. Mixed emotions indeed.
Where the film succeeds however is in the set design, the build up of tension, and the violence. I didn’t think this film was going to get as graphic as it did, and the effects seemed practical to me, and that was a very pleasant surprise. The director has a lot of sneaky tricks up his sleeve to build tension and to fool you and misdirect you just to return with a graphic surprise. The set pieces of the Park itself – and all of the mazes within – are very well designed and created. They are beautiful on camera, they flow like a real haunted house, and they have the feeling of being a real location. Hell, I’d love to go to Hell Fest.
This movie isn’t for everyone, and there are certainly better slasher films available, but this one was fun. It surprised me (both as a story and with select events), and I laughed as much as I said “whoa” to the intense violence that came out of nowhere. If you're looking for a new kind of slasher to watch this Halloween season, this one pays respects to its origin while trying to do its own thing.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra