“You’re the one who’s been following me around all night, aren’t you?”
Story: A college gal who’s more study than stupor heads back home to spend Halloween with her BFF. But BFF and her in-town pals have tickets to Hell Fest, a traveling spooky show. A few years ago some girl got slaughtered in one, and it took days to find her body. But I’m sure this one’s peachy keen. Who’s that rando in the mask that’s following us?
Scares: Lots of fun “what’s gonna happen next” chills.
Splat factor: Not much. Blood and after-effects of attacks. One head pulp. But think old-school slasher FX rather than torture-pr0n.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Nope, but that last scene is a great wholly original tidbit.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Original, but you can tell this film bows at the feet of 80s slashers.
Trick or Treat?: This film piqued my interest the moment I saw that 80s throwback trailer. So even though this film wasn’t screened for press (BOO), I headed to the multiplex to check it out. And you should too; Hell Fest is a whole lot of spooky good times.
I love that director Gregory Plotkin brought the editing A-game from his work on Get Out to this joint. Though this film clocks in at just under an hour and a half, it feels fully fleshed out, and doesn’t feel rushed or abruptly wrapped up in the finish. I love that the screenwriters wrote characters that I actually came to care about. Fest‘s main
course group of friends may be The Final Girl, Her BFF, BFF’s BF, The Bitch, The Bitch’s BF, and The Final Girl’s Crush, but these characters become more than their sterotypes. They do smart things once stuff starts to go south, they try to keep tabs on buddies that go missing, and at the climax the survivors really use their brains to try to evade the killer. It’s a lovely change from the vapid, half-baked characters I’ve seen over and over again in recent movies.
The solid performances from the cast – especially Reign Edwards, Amy Forsyth and Bex Taylor-Klaus – drive home the intelligence and loyalty these characters come to exhibit. Plus, great casting; the onscreen chemistry between these actors is fantastic, and lends a believability to their interactions. It feels plausible that these characters would hang out together, rather than just throwing cliches together. I gave a damn when these characters were in danger. When kills happen, I didn’t want them to. That’s the good stuff.
Check this one out while it’s still at the multiplex. Grab your usual goodies and have a good, spooky time.
Score: 4.5 out of 5 pumpkins.