At least it’s not the worst theme park centered movie this year.
Synopsis: A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show. (eOne Films)
Starring: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, and Bex Taylor-Klaus
Writers: Seth M. Sherwood, Blair Butler, and Akela Cooper
Director: Greg Plotkin
Rating: 18A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 89mins
For those who prefer not to think while at the theatre, this film may be for you. While that isn’t necessarily a problem, Hell Fest will surely test one’s resolve. Throw all the cliches and contrivances you’ve come to expect in horror films and you get this lazy, predictable, and pretty much stupid sub 90 minute adventure. Ultimately, the appeal may come from its young, good-looking cast but some will be unable to overcome their collective insufferability. This only makes the film a chore to watch and feel longer than its 89 minute running time.
Those who have seen any of the trailers already know what the film is about for the most part and mostly takes place in a Halloween-themed park named Hell Fest. Although there’s more subplots between the characters, they would not matter whatsoever to the plot. Natalie (Forsyth), Brooke (Edwards), Taylor (Taylor-Klaus), Gavin (Roby Attal), Quinn (Christian James), and Asher (Matt Mercurio) all just wanted to have a good time at Hell Fest until things inevitably turned for the worse as they became the targets of a masked serial killer who was just there for whatever reason.
Of course the big gimmick here was having a serial killer hiding in plain sight within a Halloween-themed park where no one would no what was real and what was fake. Maybe the filmmakers believed that we are unable to make the distinction ourselves. This gimmick wore away rather quickly as the ignorance on the part of the characters became irritating to watch. The film only got worse from there as the script led characters across the park for the sole purpose of triggering a series of lazy and predictable jump scares. For those wondering how the film earned its 18A/R rating, in getting those scares, the film turns to a few moments of gratuitous violence. Because of its predictable nature, the film was never scary as there was never any sense of danger.
As mentioned, all the characters were insufferable to watch and acting did play a part in this, however, the mediocre writing and direction were mostly to blame for this. The dialog was atrocious and cringe-worthy and the directing was okay. None of the actors had any chemistry with one another and it felt like they sleepwalked through the entire film. Seeing that they didn’t care, it was easy not to care as a result. The best part of the film was perhaps the set design, bringing all the different areas of the park to life, but it almost didn’t matter since the film was so dull to watch.
Overall, this was a bad horror film that was lazy from the top down with atrocious writing, insufferable characters, and uninspired scares that all worked together to make a sub 90 minute film feel much longer. Some will say that it has a retro feel, however, many retro horror films weren’t that good to begin with. Those who can turn their brains off may find enough to enjoy but it will surely test one’s resolve.