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Monday, June 24, 2019

Hell Fest (2018)




The Slasher marathon continues with a new movie that came out just last year. I had some hope after hearing some good buzz about this masked killer stalking victims at a giant haunted house/amusement park. What a great setting for a slasher movie! Did the movie live up to the hype? Spoiler… it did not.

After an opening with an annoyed girl being bothered by a masked guy in a haunted house who eventually kills her, we get introduced to our main characters. Natalie is back in town visiting over Halloween and has plans to meet up with her best friend Brooke. It is then that she finds out Brooke has a new roommate, Taylor, whom she really doesn’t like. The three have tickets for Hell Fest and are heading out with some boys, including one that Natalie has a crush on.

Now that we have the setup done the six of them head off to Hell Fest, which is a giant amusement park/haunted house with multiple mazes and masked actors to scare them. by accident Natalie gets the attention of the killer, called the Other, who starts following the group around. Eventually as they separate, he begins to kill them off until he is exposed, and security is called. Of course, they don’t catch him, and we are given what I think was supposed to be a spooky ending that I really didn’t care for. Movie over.

This has missed opportunity written all over it. The setting was amazing, and they do a great job creating a creepy atmosphere. The different mazes and costumes were fun to see, and we even get a tiny cameo from Tony Todd as the emcee of a public execution. There was so much potential here. But the story gets bogged down showing us so much of the park and the characters being silly that the killer never gets established and the story never starts rolling. The movie is heavily backloaded on the kills which makes for a very uneven pace. That brings me to another issue with the plot and writing.

The killer does look creepy
While I liked the idea of him hiding in plain sight and the sense of isolation created in spite of the victims being surrounded by hundreds of other people, they manage to spoil that by having him chase someone into the crowd. Follow my logic here. The movie goes out of its way to establish our killer as being very careful to pick his spots for the killings waiting until they are isolated and easy to murder. He also wears a mask, so no one knows who he is. Yet for no reason they have him chase a girl into a crowd and not only kill her but another person that comes to help. Why? Based on what you have established he should just fade back into the crowd and wait for another chance. I get that sounds picky, but the movie created its own logic and I want them to stick to it. I consider this poor writing when they ignore their own character’s motivations.

But the most absolutely disappointing part of the movie has to be the kills. We get one memorable on screen kill and the rest suck. Four people get stabbed in the gut, one gets a mallet to the noggin’ (offscreen), and another has a needled shoved into his eye. The last one is the only decent kill and is shown on screen. Not only is six deaths a bit light for a movie like Hell Fest, but for the most part you see nothing. There is more gore on television cop shows then you get in this one. I found that very disappointing.

Clearly this isn’t a recommendation from me. Hell Fest fails on every level and doesn’t manage any real scares or gore that is worth a rental fee. And I guess the audience is supposed to be freaked out that the killer turns out to be a normal guy with a family… Have you watched any serial killer documentaries? That is almost always the case, so your big twist is also garbage. The only hellish thing about this movie is that I spent my time watching it.


© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer



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