REVIEW: Despite a nice concept, ‘Hell Fest’ feels largely generic

Want to visit a haunted attraction but have none close by? Well, you can always check out the latest horror film “Hell Fest.” Actually, don’t do that, because “Hell Fest” isn’t all that impressive.

This film follows a group of six college students who get together for a trip to Hell Fest. Basically, Hell Fest is a traveling horror amusement park that does the scary stuff better than anyone else in the business.

The characters include three women, Natalie (Amy Forsyth), Brooke (Reign Edwards) and Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus), as well as three guys named Quinn (Christian James), Asher (Matt Mercurio) and Gavin (Roby Attal). While apprehensive to the horror environment at first, Natalie starts to have a good time at the event. However, after a short time, she starts to get followed by a masked man (with no credited actor). While they first think it’s just an event performer, the group soon learn that the masked person is actually a murderer.

The idea behind “Hell Fest” isn’t a bad one, as a haunted attraction is a pretty good setting for a horror movie to take place. However, this picture doesn’t do much with the idea. When all is said and done, it is a run of the mill slasher flick.

The problem is that about 65 to 75 percent of all the scare attempts in the movie are fake, as they end up simply being props in the haunted attraction. It’s understandable that the filmmakers wanted the audience to feel like they’re in a haunted house, but it never really catches on. As a result, it’s never all that frightening.

Maybe it could’ve worked better if the park was supernatural, so the props that come out of corners and such actually have a payoff in the scares they’re featured in, rather than being a simple jump scare. Or, have the murderer use more of the props and attraction set pieces for the kills. It may have upped the camp factor a bit, but this type of movie, taking place at a theme park, could have benefited from that.

Instead, all an audience is left with is a generic slasher . Sure, the set pieces and costumes look good and deserve credit. A nice, creepy atmosphere is built thanks to those aspects. Yet that’s not enough to elevate this feature.

It also doesn’t help that most of the characters here are unlikeable. They’re all so poorly written and the dialogue gets downright insufferable after a while. The worst is Taylor-Klaus, who can get on a viewer’s nerve quite quickly. Now, I’m not asking for characters with a significant amount of depth in my horror movies, but maybe make them a bit more enjoyable to follow.

As previously stated, there was potential with “Hell Fest,” but the final product was rather flat. The slasher element brought few thrills and most of the characters were a pain. I’m feeling generous, though, so because of the set and costume design, as well as its appeal to horror/slasher fans in general, it gets a 2.0 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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