reviewed by Matt Hayden
Director: Gregory Plotkin
Premiere Date (Streaming): Sept 29, 2018
Hell Fest (2018) is an American horror slasher film directed by Gregory Plotkin, starring Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, and Bex Taylor-Klaus. The film follows a group of teens who are stalked by a masked killer when they visit a travelling Halloween carnival. Despite the retreaded ground of this description Hell Fest is aesthetically pleasing, and considering what gets released these days, the ending deserves a second film.
In Hell Fest, we have all the normal film tropes, with a final girl, someone who is reconnecting with school friends, trying to get with a boy that she has liked for years and the gentle ribbing from an old “enemy” turning “friend.” In the slasher genre, there’s nothing new here. And it’s still somewhat of an acquired taste. Still, there are two elements at work most of us probably rarely think about: a cliffhanger, and great visuals.
By placing the film in an amusement park, the setting constantly switches. When we spend time in the carnival for the first time, we instantly become aware of the number of workers, masks used to scare participants, and even a waiver form that has to be signed by those attending allowing for the hosts to touch them. As our group encounter the killer for the first time in a maze, the teens come to notice someone like him everywhere and following them.
Hell Fest as a whole is a film you can turn on at any point if you have seen a slasher film before and know exactly at what point in the film you are at, to its detriment. But the film delivers a story that could easily make the local news: a masked serial killer, who is able to hide the bodies of his victims amongst fake corpses at a travelling Halloween carnival, giving him the ability to kill without motive, and a range of potential targets all the time.
The manner in which we are given information and shown some of the deaths is interesting, but not ‘gory’ in the way that some people may have come to expect from films in this genre. As a whole I don’t think Hell Fest is a film that gives off rewatch vibes, but through its innovative pivot point, interesting killer plot, and the way in which the carnival travels, I think another film should have been explored as a film like this, will generally only generate significant profit after it is available on disk or VOD.