Cinematic Releases: Suburban Slasher Unleashed: Hell Fest (2018) Reviewed

As the Halloween season starts off, audiences get the first new slasher film that attempts to kick start our October spirits. And this social media/cell phone generation horror hybrid crashes with a well defined thud so loud, I could hear the blood spatter across the room. 

Billed as the next great thing to hit the horror highway, Hell Fest is a no budget number that feels like a low dough VOD release that begs, borrows, and steals in an attempt to be the next big masked serial killer with a knife. Remaining super safe throughout, the movie is an empty treat bag that never offers up anything tasty, fun or new until the last few minutes of the film. Shot totally on digital, it lacks cinematic tone, blood curdling thrills, and any plot devices to set it apart from any one of the upcoming horror films we could enjoy in the comfort of our own home for a few bucks on any one of the genre streaming platforms. 

When a group of teenagers visit the local haunted amusement park, a series of murders begins to take place as a mysterious killer slices and dices their flesh for fun. As their friends go missing, they begin to notice that something is amiss. While there are a few cool kills, Hell Fest is like a greatest hits track of every other one of these movies we've seen before. The only difference being the new setting of an amusement park, which of course has been done before too. This is honestly one of those rare cases where I (a massive horror fan) began to wonder if there is anything new to be said in this genre. 

Typically these kinds of films rely on a few distinct devices: a great score, chemistry between characters, a well defined killer, and awesome gore. Yes, Hell Fest definitely brings a couple unique deaths, but the overall finished product is a ham fisted effort that has no real dynamic. It's so damn rushed that none of the players are fleshed out in the slightest. Other than some passing talk about taking a trip to Spain and some base line developmental discussion about knowing each other during their younger years, all the teens are one sided slabs of meat, ready for the kill. 

If you're looking for something cool to watch to celebrate the upcoming holiday, I'd strongly suggest seeing something else. This has been touted as some awesome retro revival. Sure, the lighting is sweet.  And it has some of the markers of better days but fails to realize how actually great it could have been. The script needed a rewrite. And the casting department should have done a better job. Plus, after all these years, I think teens have seen enough of these movies to realize they shouldn't be walking into dark hallways if they think someone might be standing at the end waiting to kill them.