Main cast: Amy Forsyth (Natalie), Reign Edwards (Brooke), Bex Taylor-Klaus (Taylor), Christian James (Quinn), Matt Mercurio (Asher), Roby Attal (Gavin), Tony Todd (The Barker), and Stephen Conroy (The Other)
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Hell Fest is one of those cheaply made horror flicks that can’t really go wrong in return of investment, unless the people involved suddenly went into a months-long bender or something. It has an interesting, if implausible, premise, and gorgeous set pieces. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have much of anything else.
The Hell Fest in the title is a traveling carnival with a main attraction that draws in fans of horror and curious people like lemmings to a high cliff: the Dead Lands, a large slice of the carnival in which the “monsters” called the Others in the attractions can and will touch the visitors. Sure, the movie says that visitors to the Dead Lands will sign a waiver, but the whole thing won’t last long in real life before it gets buried under a mountain of lawsuits, if you ask me.
Natalie, who is an obvious final girl even to novice of slasher flicks, comes back to town to re-visit her former room mate, Brooke, only to discover that, in Natalie’s absence, Brooke has taken in another room mate, Taylor. All three go way back, and these characters all have little depths. Natalie is the final girl, Brooke is the black best friend, and Taylor is the girl who wants to get laid all the time. Our final girl is back just in town for Halloween. Hey, Hell Fest is in town! Brooke’s boyfriend Quinn and Taylor’s boyfriend Asher are BFFs and they have a friend, Gavin, who manages to score all of them VIP tickets to Hell Fest. The boys are even flatter than the ladies, mind you, and I have to look up their names on IMDB just for this review.
At any rate, Brooke insists that Natalie joins them that evening, as it’s a great opportunity for them to catch up. Also, Gavin is single and so is Natalie, and the others will love to see whether these two will get along, if you know what I mean. Indeed, Natalie likes Gavin and vice versa. However, things quickly go awry when a man, dressed up as an Other, shows up to commit his annual Halloween killing spree in Hell Fest. You see, thanks to the Dead Lands, it is very easy to stalk, assault, and knife the hell out of people, as nobody realizes that a genuine murder has been committed until it’s way too late. This year, he realizes that Natalie is accidentally on to him, so that evening is going to become one to remember…
Right away, it is obvious that this movie is actually more of a theme park commercial than anything else. The set pieces, as I’ve mentioned, is gorgeous, and for way too long, this movie focuses on these bland, boring kids going around doing their thing and see those things. The killing spree starts way late in the movie, when my eyes are starting to glaze over. Some of the kills are pretty nice, but there are few kills all in all, and the physics of some of these kills require considerable suspension of disbelief.
The last half hour or so of the movie is a long chase scene that goes on and on interminably because the main characters keep making really dumb choices that get them into more and more trouble. Oh, the exit must surely be somewhere inside the reputedly most frightening maze ever, so let’s run inside there blindly when there’s a killer hot on our tail! The killer gains teleportation powers and sixth sense, it seems, as he seems to be always on to them and can catch up with them within a blink of an eye, and he also can’t be defeated despite being beaten and knifed and battered 24/7. Is this guy a robot? Oh, no, as the final scene tells me – he’s human. Therefore, this movie is certifiably dumb.
Hell Fest is probably best watched by fans of horror theme parks, but even then, there is no actual Hell Fest, and hence, there is no real life opportunity to visit that place. So what’s the point of the whole thing? Watch only if you are utterly bored and have absolutely nothing else to do.