October is finally here, and among the fun ghoulish festivities that this month brings, going to see a promising new horror flick is one of the best ways to kick off the month. With the highly anticipated release of “Halloween” approaching, we were left to get a taste of horror with the only other horror flick coming out this spooky season: “Hell Fest.” Viewers and critics alike predicted to see scary thrills, creative kills and blood spills. However, all of these key ingredients ended up lacking in this mediocre film.
“Hell Fest” follows three college students, Natalie (Amy Forsyth), Brooke (Reign Edwards) and Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus from MTV’s “Scream”) as they visit the traveling horror-themed amusement park, Hell Fest. Upon arriving, the girls and their unimportant boyfriends are preyed upon and stalked, their fate in the hands of a masked serial killer.
From the synopsis, “Hell Fest” sounds like a truly intriguing concept and the plot itself had much potential. However, after seeing the film, it is evident that the filmmakers failed to reach the bar.
Every good horror film has noticeably good, gory kills. As a horror film enthusiast, I’ve seen enough of them to know what a good kill looks like, and this film did not deliver the gore it promised. Yes, the killing aspect was enticing, but the blood spilled wasn’t enough for someone to squirm in their seat. The film should have fully utilized its R rating and focused more on the deaths — it spent only a couple seconds on each one. Although the film did bring up good suspense, it just did not deliver the way it should have.
Not only was the gore not up to par, the casting was also below average. Besides the feisty Taylor-Klaus, this group of teens made the movie boring, awkward and, most importantly, slow. The actors showed little-to-no emotion; I was especially disappointed by Forsyth’s performance as the protagonist. In a standard horror film, the last girl alive is always notably fierce — this is not the case in “Hell Fest.” Main character Natalie is both amateurish and dull. If I were the casting director, I would have hired Taylor-Klaus to be the protagonist, rather than Forsyth.
Regardless of all of the cons of this movie, one of the redeeming qualities is the fun and frightening idea of the haunted carnival — I will give it to the producers of “Hell Fest” for putting that idea into motion. The cinematography, for instance, made it seem like the audience was navigating haunted mazes with the main characters, making the film seem more realistic and scary. The sets and props were terrifyingly real, and the setting itself made the ambiance of the amusement park exciting. It even made me become more excited for Fright Fest at Wild Waves, even though I am not a fan of it.
Another pro to this movie was the unexpected plot twist of an ending. No spoilers here, but this movie leaves you questioning the identity and the motive of the killer. I left the theater disappointed yet in awe of the ending.
“Hell Fest,” as promising as it sounded, only brought in $5 million during its opening weekend, leaving it at a whopping OK standing. I went to the theater expecting the best, and left feeling defeated. My advice? Wait to see “Halloween,” or just be old-fashioned and go rent a critically-acclaimed horror film that will give you a better bang for your buck.