To fully understand Hell Fest, I believe you need to understand the difference between
and. If in a film, screenwriter credits go to
Person A & Person B, it means the two writers wrote the script together. Now, if the credits say
Person A and Person B, the two did not jointly work on the script, and the movie is based on two scripts. This means two stories potentially were combined into one, or that Person A completely rewrote Person B’s screenplay. Either way, an
and can often be a red flag.
Hell Fest has two
ands, and that doesn’t include the
story by credits. That is a warning sign worth taking note of.
Released not long before the similarly themed Haunt, we follow a group of kids stalked by a killer at a haunted carnival. I cannot for the life of me recount anything else that fleshed out the plot. Young people; theme park; serial killer slashing them down without any discernible motive. Other than a deus ex machina epilogue (that very well could have been the sole contribution from one of the
ands), that’s about it.
The lack of a real story could be forgiven – Halloween managed well without one – had Hell Fest provided any kind of scares. I’m not convinced the writers or the director had any intentions of even trying, settling instead on a series of graphic kills.
What makes this all the more frustrating is that Hell Fest is a solidly assembled movie. The palette is saturated in lush colors, shot through a dreamlike lens by D.P. José David Montero. The visuals suitably echo both Italian gialli and American slashers, underscored by Bear McCreary’s eerie score. It is amazing that such a beautiful package can play so dull.
Setting the writing aside, director Gregory Plotkin – an editor behind classics like Happy Death Day and Get Out – has his cast perform so far over the top that it’s impossible to take their characters seriously. Of the ensemble, Reign Edwards as Brooke is the only one that comes off as likable, displaying an inkling of relatability. On the other side, you have Tony Todd looking mortified in his glorified cameo. No actor deserves to deliver these lines.
Why are we signing a waiver?
'cause liability is… a bitch. I mean, come on.
I initially wanted to call Hell Fest a mess, but I actually would have preferred a mess. A mess would have meant the crew at least had tried to achieve more than covering up an empty house with a pretty facade. I wasn’t all that into Haunt either, but of the two, it’s the one to watch.
More Hell Festing
There have been threats of both a sequel and a prequel to Hell Fest, though nothing has manifested yet. Seeing the movie made money in the theaters, I do think we need to prepare ourselves for the very real possibility that one or both will happen.
Letterboxd summary: On Halloween night at a horror theme park, a costumed killer begins slaying innocent patrons who believe that it's all part of the festivities.
Ratings from around the web
|One Star Classics||2/6|