Director: Gregory Plotkin
Cast: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus
Release Date: January 8, 2019
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
A group of friends are bound for a horror-themed Halloween event at a local amusement park — a sprawling labyrinth of rides, games, and mazes that travels the country and happens to be in town. But for one visitor, the ghoulish carnival of nightmares is not the attraction — it is a hunting ground. On the night the friends attend, a masked serial killer turns the amusement park into his own playground, terrorizing attendees while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. As the body count and frenzied excitement of the crowd continues to rise, who will fight to survive the night?
‘Hell Fest’ accompanies a group of friends that have found themselves fortunate enough to have acquired tickets to one of the most noteworthy haunts around, a traveling, one night only event that is nearly impossible to locate, let alone actually get your hands on tickets for. Although unfortunately for this group of college kids, a random masked serial killer is also attending ‘Hell Fest’ this year and has set his sights on them. As their friends begin to fall victim to the killer and their disappearances begin building, the survivors quickly realize this is far more than part of the show and their night of fun and enjoyment quickly transforms to terror and a fight for survival.
Directed by Gregory Plotkin (Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) from a screenplay by Seth M. Sherwood (Leatherface 2017), Blair Butler (TV’s Attack of the Show!) and Akela Cooper (TV’s Grimm) from a story by William Penick and Chris Sey, Plotkin does a more than competent job at the helm of ‘Hell Fest’ which marks his sophomore directorial effort, smoothly guiding along the stylish, bloody fun. The film features a cast comprised of a few familiar faces and some less familiar ones and includes Amy Forsyth (TV’s Channel Zero), Reign Edwards (TV’s Snowfall), Bex Taylor-Klaus (TV’s Scream: The Series), Christian James (TV’s Freefall) and Tony Todd (Hatchet) along with more, the majority offering decent enough performances for the most part in each of their respective roles, even if some may be noticeably better than others at times.
‘Hell Fest’ is a fairly by the books slasher flick that keeps things largely to the basics we genre fans are quite familiar with and doesn’t contribute anything exceptional or noteworthy along with it, yet even so that tends to be one of the film’s biggest strengths. Never attempting to reach for something grander or to trying to get clever with a heap of unnecessary twists or turns, it keeps things simple and in the process serves up a thoroughly entertaining ride with its share of fun and bloody kills (even if most of them we’ve seen before). Keeping things short and sweet (clocking in at less than 90 minutes including credits) and benefitting significantly from the traveling horror event location which makes for a perfect setting that repeatedly offers some colorful visuals, props and other visually welcome elements in which to center the deadly fun. I would certainly encourage fellow horror movie fans that enjoy a simple yet fun slasher flick that doesn’t try too hard to make a point of giving ‘Hell Fest’ a whirl at least at some point in the foreseeable future. It may not be the horror film event of the year but still brings enough solid and occasionally mildly gory fun to the table to make it worth a watch, and quite possibly the price of a rental as well for those who are already notably intrigued by it.
Overall, ‘Hell Fest’ is fun slasher flick with a perfect setting that offers enough bloody fun and excitement to keep horror fans satisfied for the most part throughout. While it certainly isn’t perfect and may not offer anything overly original, I would still recommend ‘Hell Fest’ especially to genre fans. Even while following many basic trends of the genre and borrowing heavily from some other similar films, ‘Hell Fest’ still delivers enough bloody excitement and simplistic fun with gorgeous scenery around every turn to make it worth taking the time to check out. If you can go in expecting nothing more than an easygoing and simple yet no less entertaining slasher flick there’s a good chance you’ll end up having quite a bit of fun with this one.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hell Fest’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty fantastic as a whole and provides a sharp, detailed and vividly colored presentation from start to finish that holds up impressively even during the various darkly lit and heavily populated sequences throughout, never resulting in anything on screen ever becoming negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a rather great high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that looks clean sharp every step of the way and shouldn’t disappoint fans of the film in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release features a DTS: X (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA presentation. This multichannel soundtrack makes a wonderful compliment to the onscreen fun and delivers a crisp, clean and notably aggressive audio presentation throughout. It constantly takes advantage of all seven available channels in order to send music, screams and a great deal of crowd chatter and other background effects zipping throughout the various speakers with regularity, and never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible along the way. Overall, this is a fantastic DTS: X (DTS-HD MA 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that sounds consistently great and should easily please fans and first time viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hell Fest’ doesn’t offer a great deal in the way of supplements, but it does include one behind the scenes Featurette ‘Thrills and Kills: Making Hell Fest’ (running approximately 16 minutes in length) which features some behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with members of the cast and crew, plus more. The ‘Theatrical Trailer’ for the movie (running approximately 1 minute) is also included.