2018 | DIR: GREGORY PLOTKIN | STARS: TONY TODD, BEX TAYLOR-KLAUS, AMY FORSYTH, CHRISTIAN JAMES, REIGN EDWARDS | REVIEW BY GLENN COCHRANE.
Hell Fest is a touring horror carnival, which attracts thousands of thrill seekers at Halloween. Full of devilish attractions such as ghost trains, mazes and horror-houses the event is a larger-than-life festival for those with a strong constitution. The movie follows a group of friends reunited for Halloween who attend the festival and find themselves stalked by a serial killer under the guise of a Hellfest staff member. It is as basic as set-ups go and on face value it leaves a lot to be desired, but the strength of the movie lies within its amazing production design and its dedication to gore.
The movie explodes on to the screen in a relentless kaleidoscope of neons colours. It has no interest in developing its characters as it hits the ground running and cuts straight to the chase. Within five-minutes we're already at the point that takes most slasher movies 40-minutes to arrive at. Pitted against a backdrop of hyped-up thrill seekers and twisted carny-folk HELL FEST is a feast for the eyes and a celebration of genre.
The cast are only as good as they need be. This isn't Shakespeare in the park, it's a slice-n-dice horror movie designed to inflict deliciously gory death upon each and every character. The kills are explicit and the camera never flinches. Director Gregory Plotkin (Paranornal Activity:The Ghost Dimension) knows the deal and what's expected. He exploits every cliché and trope to full effect, offering a bucket-load of blood soaks thrills. His approach is slick, using a hyper-coloured design with strobing shadows and lights, paired with an energised rock soundtrack to awaken the senses and hold the viewer's attention. Each set-piece is meticulously designed with various themes and ghoulish creations that never repeat themselves and offer new jump-scares with each passing scene.
The film was produced by Gale Anne Hurd, whose extensive resume includes Terminator 1-3, Aliens, The Abyss and The Walking Dead amongst countless others. She is a Hollywood producer who works at the heights of the industry, and with her experience at the wheel, HELL FEST is delivered as a cut above the rest. It has the look of a glossy Hollywood chiller, similar to the Dark Castle movies of the early 2000's (13 Ghosts, Ghost Ship etc) but it delivers the graphic violence of the torture-porn era that followed. However unlike grisly titles like Saw or Hostel, the kills in HELL FEST are swiftly dealt with, as to move on to the next kill, followed by the next etc.
For production value and its clever way of working within the confines of convention, HELL FEST earns high praise. Non-horror fans will fob it off as just another generic slasher movie, but seasoned genre fans and gore-hounds alike will relish its wicked ways and lap up its vibrant carnival atmosphere. I had a great time with it and cannot wait to do it all over again.