Hell Fest (2019)
A masked serial killer turns a horror-themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.
Starring: Bex Taylor-Klaus • Reign Edwards • Amy Forsyth • Tony Todd
Some movies are just perfect to watch around Halloween. Hell Fest would definitely be one of them. I couldn’t wait until October though and treated myself this afternoon because there’s nothing better than a Saturday afternoon horror sesh in bed with the lights off.
Hell Fest isn’t truly original but it is fun and centers around six actually quite likeable young people, including Taylor (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus, who I loved in both The Killing (2013) and Scream: The TV Series (2015)).
When scholarship student Natalie (Amy Forsyth) returns home to visit her BFF Brooke (Reign Edwards), she’s bummed to learn that her former roommate has replaced her with Taylor, a girl she doesn’t really like. To cheer her up, Brooke persuades Nat to come to Hell Fest, sweetening the deal with talk of Gavin (Roby Attal), her long-time crush being there – and asking after her to boot.
Along with Taylor and their boyfriends, the six meet and agree a plan of action for Halloween Night’s activities – go hard or go home. Even Taylor and Natalie start to get on as they navigate the Hell Fest park, but Nat is a cynic and not easily frightened.
Things change when she witnesses ‘a murder’ that feels very real and the perpetrator, a very committed park employee (or is he?), starts stalking the group. Convinced something’s not right and that some of the effects are just a little too realistic, things take an even darker turn when Gavin disappears and one by one so do the rest of the gang…
What’s the mask-wearing stalker’s deal though and is most of it in Natalie’s head? *Spoiler – of course fucking not*
I thought the setting of this was fantastic and has forever cemented my resolve not to return to Shocktober Fest for the fourth year running (they wanted us to put sacks over our heads last time, nothankyouverymuch). It’s relateable because I can remember what it feel like to be followed onto the Haunted Hayride by a dude with a chainsaw.
There’s a special vulnerability to being frightened in the dark but also trusting that everything you see is an illusion – and then finding out that it’s all a lie – and I like the way this is used. There’s a really tense scene in a ghost train which I really enjoyed, it takes me back to all the rides I’ve ever enjoyed. And hated because they were shit.
The kills are imaginative and disgusting for the most part and as mentioned above, as I actually like the kids I care about them when they’re knocked off and cheer when they get away. I think the ending is interesting too in a sort of Michael Myers/unexplained mystery of the human psyche kind of way.
And of course, a cameo from horror legend (and my personal fave) Tony Todd could never hurt. I dug it – and will definitely be revisiting come October.
It’s already been added to my 30 Horrors list for 2019.
⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐