Starring Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Roby Attal, Matt Mercurio, Tony Todd
Directed by Gregory Plotkin
One of the best things about the Halloween season is the throng of haunted attractions which spring up all over the country. They range from silly to extreme, and each is home to at least one thing that’s guaranteed to scare the proverbial pants off the eager (or sometimes chicken shit) thrill seeker. That being said… what if something goes wrong during one of them? At an event populated by many a horror, would you be able to tell fantasy from reality should something truly awful happen? That’s the main question Gregory Plotkin‘s Hell Fest asks, and it answers the question damned effectively.
In the flick several friends get together for a night of thrills, chills, and screams at the scariest traveling haunt on the planet, Hell Fest. What they don’t count on, however, is someone taking this ghastly gathering just a bit too seriously by using it as both camouflage for and an outlet to don a mask, grab a weapon, and go on a good old fashioned slasher spree.
You see, it’s not the plentiful environments and the “scaractors” who inhabit them that are the most deadly thing going bump in the night. As always, it’s the stranger, the one standing right next to you. The figure behind you. The one whose actions you cannot control that can bring on the true terror.
There are several stars that help Hell Fest to align and shine. The cast brings it. They are genuinely likable, and you’ll find yourself giving a shit about what happens to them – especially fresh-face genre favorites Amy Forsyth (“Channel Zero: No End House”) and Bex Taylor-Klaus (MTV’s “Scream”). The setting that is Hell Fest itself is as big of a star as any you’re likely to see. This place truly comes alive, and Plotkin uses every single bit of spookery to his advantage. In fact, Hell Fest would be a perfect double feature with Tobe Hooper’s 1981 classic The Funhouse or something more modern like 2014’s The Houses October Built.
Honestly speaking… I want to go to this haunt. Like yesterday. This place is friggin’ awesome. Watching it in action was the next best thing to being there, and Plotkin uses his signature timing which he honed during his time editing the Paranormal Activity franchise to create a good deal of tension, creepiness, and sinister brutality. Add on a killer score from Bear McCreary and the effortless scene-stealing ability of Tony Todd, and you have a winner.
The only place Hell Fest stumbles a bit is during its third act. A couple of the characters deserved a much better (or at least memorable) “send off” than they got. One more jaw-dropping kill would have pushed this one way over the top, but all is not lost as the last several moments of the film are as chilling as it gets and, quite frankly, the perfect ending to this tale of madness.
If you’re looking to kick off your Halloween season the right way… get your tickets for Hell Fest, grab your friends, load up on popcorn and snacks, and take this ride.