It’s finally HORROR MONTH!
Now if you aren’t fully aware of what exactly this month entails for me, it’s a month where I watch nothing but horror movies every night and only horror. It also goes without saying that my film reviews will be nothing but horror movies as well. Hence a month of horror!
It’s pretty self-explanatory actually. I don’t know why I thought I needed to explain it further. Anyway…
To mix things up this year, I’m going to be doing something a bit different. Since I have a limited amount of reviews to write and so many movies on my list to watch, I thought it might be interesting to give a kind of weekly wrap up of all the movies I saw that week and if maybe they were worth checking out or not. I’ll be posting these weekend wrap-ups on Sundays all month long, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested.
And of course, here is the list of horror films I’ll be seeing. I’ve been hoarding up on them for a few months now, so there’s a lot here I’m dying to finally get to. Of course this isn’t a definitive list or anything, as I doubt I can get to everything, there are some on this list I had on years prior, not to mention the list is still growing. As I added two more titles to the list just yesterday. So this is more of a work in progress.
American Fright Fest
Evil Within, The
First Purge, The Ghost House
Ice Cream Truck, The
Lake Placid Legacy
Landmine Goes Click
Open House, The
Return of Killer Klowns from Outer Space
Strangers Prey at Night, The
Truth or Dare
Unfriended: Dark Web
They might be in alphabetical order but in no way will I watch them that way. Really it’s whatever that night I feel like watching. Like last night where I was in the mood for a slasher film. And it just happens a new slasher film is playing in theaters right now.
If you look closely at my list you might have noticed something. The word “fest” pops up a couple of times. That’s right, not one but two other films on my list have the word “fest” in the title, but they’re also about killers running loose in a fun house amusement park.
I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or bad thing for your unproduced slasher script set in a funhouse or not. I’m thinking bad?
Anyway, let’s get down to it as horror month waits for no man!
I’ve only even been to one scary haunted house tour, when I was maybe 8 or younger, I think I’ve told this story before, so I’ll only give the cliff notes.
The fun house ended up being one if not the most terrifying thing I have ever witnessed. And I sat through Jem and the Holograms.
Hell Fest is of course a theme park with ghosts and ghouls trying to scare you at every corner. Venturing into this haunted theme park are our 6 leads, three college girls and their three boyfriends. A perfect number for any slasher film.
The year before at one of these theme parks a woman was murdered and it took until the body started smelling until anyone noticed. So obviously that means the killer is going to return for more stabby stab fun time.
Seems Natalie and Brooke have had a slight falling out as of late, with Natalie being busy with school…
But she’s here to let loose and have some fun. Brooke even invited Gavin, the boy Natalie likes.
I think this also marks the first time Bex Taylor-Klaus has played a straight character as Taylor. I remember her from Arrow but she also starred in the fucking terrible Scream series on MTV, which I was only able to watch one episode of. Actually, I’m not sure I even got through the whole episode it was so bad.
She’s kind of the wild party girl in Hell Fest, the one most likely to die first. Her boyfriend is Asher, the jokey one of the group, actually now that I think about it, he is most likely to die first. RIP Shelly.
One thing I enjoyed about Hell Fest was the fact they set it in a theme park filled with people. Usually in a scenario like this they find some way to make sure it’s just our group of kids that get involved. Like in Funhouse where it takes place after the park has closed. Here in Hell Fest there’s always at least a 100 other people around.
I like that, you think you’re safer in a crowd but really it just makes you more vulnerable. Not to mention harder to tell where the killer is, he could be standing right next to you and you wouldn’t even notice.
As the group meets up at Hell Fest there is another person they don’t know about yet also joining them. I’m not sure he was ever given a name as nothing is listed on the film’s IMDB page. I thought maybe he’d get a moniker like Michael Myers does in Halloween, known as The Shape. As I’m looking at the film’s wiki page, it seems he might be known as The Other, so maybe I’ll call him that.
As the group meets, they get their VIP passes, allowing them to skip all the long lines and head right into the fun houses.
For a place so adamant about not allowing any kind of weapon into the park, they sure keep a ton of weapons just lying around. I kind of like the idea of the killer having to find things to kill people with, but then they immediately cut to him stealing a knife from the shaved ice vender. I mean, what shaved ice vender uses a buck knife to shave ice?
At one point he even finds a fire axe to use. It wasn’t in safety glass or anything in case of an emergency, it was just there with one of the props.
That might be my first complaint about this film, this only has about two creative kills in it, everything else is just him stabbing people. Him having to improvise I think would have made this a bit more than just an average slasher film. The two creative kills… well, two and a half were really fun and gory. Everything else was slightly lackluster.
I’ll get into more detail about the kills when they happen.
Right now though, we need some character development. Mainly Natalie and Gavin’s budding romance. As they go deeper into the park they run into a girl getting chased by a masked killer. Another complaint I have would be how bland The Other’s mask is. It might not be as bad if not for the fact he is surrounded by hundreds of people wearing way cooler masks. Hell, at one point I’m pretty sure they ran into Dr. Satan from House of 1000 Corpses.
The Other’s mask just looks like a burn victim. About as boring as a mask gets.
One scene I really liked was when the killer walks in on Natalie as she’s found herself slightly bored by the jump scares, so when The Other shows up, ready to kill the girl he was chasing, she’s slightly annoyed, egging him on to hurry up already and stab her.
After that encounter The Other is obsessed with stalking Natalie now.
As the group heads over to try out some of the games and none scary things, The Other is spotted following them, of course Natalie is the only one who notices.
That is until he steals Natalie and Gavin’s photo booth kiss pics.
Like a moron, Brooke chases after the guy down a dark alleyway.
So another thing, I’m not sure how I like it or not but the killer hums. He hums pop goes the weasel. We do later find out he sings it to his little daughter, which I guess makes it slightly creepier but really I think I could have done without the humming and just have him completely silent like Michael Myers.
Instead of Brooke getting introduced to the stabby end of a knife, we are treated to a jump scare, something thankfully we don’t get too much of in this film. You’d think setting this in a horror themed amusement park you’d have to deal with nonstop jump scares like the IT remake, but no, it was pretty well contained.
Instead our first victim is Gavin. Yeah, the lead’s love interest. I honestly didn’t see that coming. Since he sucks at ring toss, embarrassing himself in front of Natalie, he slips off from the group to try and steal a stuffed doll she wanted.
As he sneaks into the locker room where the toys are held, The Other shows up and squashes his head with a mallet on one of those test your strength things. It’s the goriest of the kills this evening but it’s over in a flash, you blink and you might miss it entirely.
I like that this isn’t some PG-13, watered down garbage like Happy Death Day, something made for the Riverdale crowd. However, this film I felt could have been bloodier. It earns its R rating but it doesn’t wear it proudly enough. We very rarely get slasher films in theaters anymore and when we do they are always PG-13.
The group heads off to the part of the park where the performers are allowed to touch you. That’s when they run into several others in the park wearing the same mask as our killer.
He could be anywhere!
Actually he’s on stage right now with Taylor and Tony Todd, who I guess is playing himself. He is playing the ring master of the carnival. He judges Taylor as being too sinful and must be punished. Off with her head!
The killer has double masked himself, disguising himself as the executioner, strapping Taylor down to a guillotine. Natalie just had a really scary run in with The Other in the bathroom, so she’s genuinely freaked out right now.
She notices the executioner is wearing the same boots as The Other, so she tries her best to stop the event. I was really hoping to see her head get loped off but no dice. The blade was too dull to cut her head off, giving Taylor a bad cut.
The only other gruesome kill is when Taylor’s boyfriend Asher gets stabbed in the eye, Zombie style. All the other kills now are just stabbing, which is slightly lame now after seeing a man getting his head sandwiched by Gallagher’s melon smashing mallet.
Taylor gets away but is chased down in the crowd, stabbed in the back. Running to her safety is Brooke’s boyfriend Quinn who immediately gets himself stabbed to death.
Now it is down to just Natalie and Brooke. They corner themselves in one of the mazes in the park, The Other following them in, trapping them.
At this point the park is shutdown, with the police on their way. All Natalie and Brooke have to do is survive long enough for the police to show up.
They do manage to trick The Other and injure him, making it safely to the exit where the police finally arrive. Unfortunate, The Other got away. Which is good because it now means we can get sequels.
I really enjoyed this movie. I was looking for a fun slasher film and damn it, I got one. It wasn’t revolutionary to the genre by any means, but it did what it set out to do. To just be fun.
That’s why Hell Fest gets a SEE IT rating. I say we are off to a pretty good start.
Want EARLY access to our videos, uploads, and movie/script reviews? Members get them FIRST! Follow this link to our Discussion Forum.
And be sure to check out our Notes Service, where I give my detailed thoughts and suggestions on your script.