LIONSGATE (2018)

 

Director: Gregory Plotkin

 

Starring: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Matt Mercurio, Roby Attal

Debutant director Gregory Plotkin’s Hell Fest arrives just in time for Halloween – another low-budget horror movie aiming to join the ranks of the unmissable go-to flicks for the Samhain season. The premise is simple – six teens attend a wild horror night at a local amusement park only to find that not everyone hiding behind masks are innocent actors. Death is in the air in the packed park and there’s nowhere to hide.

 

A simple premise bursting with promise – sadly, not executed all that well.

Once we get past the expository opening scene, we meet our six teens – Natalie (Forsyth), Brooke (Edwards), Taylor (Taylor-Klaus), Quinn (James), Asher (Mercurio) and Gavin (Attal) – who are surely destined to become five dead teens by the movies conclusion (because one always has to survive). We get a chunk of the movie watching them jape with each other and ascertaining the relationships. Everyone here is fun loving except for our lead girl who just wants to study dammit! All frivolous stuff really. When the gang gets to Hell Fest, things start to get interesting – in premise only.

 

The overall promise was frustratingly not built upon effectively as having a horror movie set within a horror night at a theme park should have been awesome, allowing for scares galore, creepy imagery and some twists/mystery along the way. What we actually get is all of the above, just largely watered down. In every area of the park, there are literally about 5 jump scares of people leaping from the dark or the crowds – and this becomes stale very quickly, pretty much removing the impact of any later attempts. The mystery is contained to just one guy in a mask (standard) whose identity is never revealed – however, his menace is restricted to moving very slowly and clenching his fists. It’s all a bit lacklustre and generic. In fact, most horror conventions are thrown in for good measure, but Winchester still holds the 2018 title for that.

 

If you’re averse to needles, the movies one real scare/gross-out moment will have you squirming all the way to Halloween and back.

 

The park itself looked pretty good, in terms of set design and crowd urgency. It felt like a real event and some of the themed rooms were inventive and effective (except for a very slow moving train that just lurched towards the protagonists in a very-Austin Powers type manner). At times, there’s a nice throwback feeling to the whole thing, the feeling of a low-budget 80’s flick. I’m guessing this was intentional, if not, hmm…

 

In a nutshell, Hell Fest is just most low-budget slashers decorated and thrown into an amusement park. It’s clichéd as hell, the attempted jump scares become tiresome quickly and the group of teens aren’t developed enough to really make us give a damn. Though the movie may not be great, I’d sure as hell be getting event tickets if Hell Fest rolled into my town – that place looks awesome!

October 2nd 2018

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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