Hell Fest – 2018

Director Gregory Plotkin
Screenplay Seth M. Sherwood, Blair Butler, Akela Cooper
Starring  Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Tony Todd, Matt Mecurio, Christian James, Michael Tourek, Roby Attal

There is a moment in the 2nd act of Hell Fest. We’ve already seen a masked killer in action in the introduction and now we see he is about to consume victim number two right in front of Natalie (Forsyth) has been convinced to attend this massive Halloween festival and is just starting to get the hang of it. Thinking the terror is part of the show, she dares him to just “do it” already.

The look on Natalie’s face is key to the moment. We see the doubt in Forsyth’s eyes, turned gradually into suspicion and then to the verge of horror. He kills the hapless victim, staring at her through his mask all the time. Did she see what she thought she did? The viewer knows the score. She’s about to find out it is not what she and her friends can consider part of the act they paid to see.

There is not much to this film. There are six teenagers in a teenage slash film. Why they are there are of no interest, and the film makers are aware of this fact. Who is the killer? Well, they haven’t touched on this either. We will though.

The fact that he has a mask on is pure marketing. If a movie is going to get a sequel, we need to have a mask. If you don’t know why, just look at the pre sale for the new Halloween film that started it all. One mistake is when you see too much of the mask. It happens here, unnecessarily so, but it doesn’t throw things completely off, by some miracle.

The acting is pretty bad for Natalie’s 5 friends. The one boy she has chemistry with, Quinn (Attel) doesn’t last long enough for my taste. Perhaps this is because the ones you want to die last a little too long. This is part of the charm of the film, though. We’re not going to see everything the way we’re used to seeing it. If they’d taken out Taylor-Klaus’ completely moronic miscalculation as they got just inside the park, it would have been too much screen time.

Forsyth is actually pretty good. Her engagement with the situation gives the viewer a feeling that there’s someone of real intelligence with the target on her back. I don’t have her on my shortlist for Oscar contention, but I don’t think I will forget her for at least a week.

The success of the scenarios with which the characters are dispatched varies. There are some pretty good scares and some surprising misses. Then there’s some dumb stuff to balance it out. Most important being in a place with literally thousands of people milling about, how come this guy always ends up in a room alone with his victims?

Whether this is good or not depends on how you think the good compares to the bad. For this viewer, the last scene wins points for originality. It’s creepy as hell, too.

(**1/2 out of *****)