American films

Hell Fest film review: vaguely passable horror by Get Out and Happy Death Day editor

This drab stab at reviving the slasher flick that John Carpenter’s 1978 classic started is short on shocks and gore, with just a few snatches of nasty surprises to keep the genre’s aficionados happy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 7:03am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 7:03am

2/5 stars

There’s only one film that matters to horror fans this Halloween and that’s the new Halloween. Hell Fest, a competent but drab stab at revisiting the slasher genre that John Carpenter’s 1978 classic started, might pass the time until that remake arrives, but it’s short on shocks and reticent when it comes to gore, featuring just a few snatches of the nasty bits that genre aficionados enjoy.

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Still, Hell Fest is such an unambitious piece of work there’s very little to go wrong, and the result is a vaguely passable horror, even if it needs to be far more frightening.

The idea of a masked killer running wild in a spooky theme park where his murders are thought to be part of the exhibits is right out of the 1950s B-movie playbook, although it would have been executed with more gumption in that decade.

The story starts with six teenage friends visiting Hell Fest, a sprawling Halloween theme park which has live spooks to thrill the audience. Early on we learn a girl was killed at a similar theme park a few years ago, and her body wasn’t noticed for a few days as the staff thought it was part of the show. It’s not difficult to work out how the film plays out.

The theme park is underwhelming and looks like it was thrown together on the cheap, and the producers have been careful to shape the characters to avoid copyright infringement, so the costumes are dull and generic. Director Gregory Plotkin edited the recent Happy Death Day , which was a very clever take on the genre, but the experience has not rubbed off on Hell Fest.

Hell Fest opens on October 18

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