Hell Fest (2018)

Longtime readers of my blog know that I hate crowds. In the past, dealing with crowds has made me uncomfortable and very self-conscious. I feel trapped and exposed and I would often get through by somewhat retreating inside of myself. People are scary in general. Other people are unpredictable because one can only read one’s own mind so you can never truly predict others’ behavior. So, dealing with another person is kind of inherently scary from a logical standpoint at least until you get to know them a bit. A crowd multiplies that unpredictability by a lot. You never know what all of these people might intend. More than that, crowds can act as natural camouflage for predatory people. We often hear about serial killers look just like everybody else and blend pretty well into crowds. Of course, none of this has any bearing on my unreasoning fear of crowds (which has gotten better from medication, age, and therapy).

I also never really enjoyed theme parks. Alright, that is not entirely true but I would often be nervous during those visits. I hate rides. The guy who watches over two dozen horror movies a year does not really like getting scared in person. The one actual rollercoaster I rode (The Scooby Doo coaster at Kings Dominion) gave me a nosebleed and really shook me as a young kid. I never rode another one but I still got nervous on kiddie rides. One of the most memorable experiences of my childhood was riding the Snow White dark ride at Disney World with my cousin. She and I jumped on board and I was soon scared out of my gourd. I spent the second half of the ride ducked down, covering my face. As we passed the witch on the ride, I heard her say “Don’t cover your eyes, sweetie!” and I nearly died from fright. Eventually, I let my little brothers ride the rides on family trips and I hung out on a bench until they were done. I learned to enjoy the games, shows, art design, and general atmosphere (minus the crowds) but I always hated the rides.

The first thing I noticed about this movie is the setting is spectacular. The whole movie takes place in a fictional horror theme park called Hell Fest. It looks way more expansive but I would compare it to events like Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. Everything is horror top to bottom and there is no safe space from getting spooked (except for the bathrooms). I found myself not wanting to go there but I did want to study its plans, look at its business model, and study all of the props and costumes. That is how real they made this place feel. It is a great setting for a horror movie. When you are at a Halloween attraction (even a singular haunted house) you feel paranoid and on your guard. However, at the same time, you know in the back of your mind that none of it is real and so it ends up being disarming. The effects of the various haunted houses were impressive and it gave the whole movie a different kind of feel. In a world where a lot of bad horror movies rely too much on jumpscares, this one throws a thousand at you so that you never know what is real. It really ratcheted up my paranoia.

Most of the victims are the usual gang of college kids, fleshed out but nothing spectacular. The standout for me was Bex Taylor-Klaus as that annoying friend we have all had who teases too much or acts up because they want our approval too much. I’m sure that she was meant to be a bit annoying but I liked her almost immediately. Amy Forsyth plays the main girl, somebody not really into Halloween who is the first to notice something might be wrong or is it paranoia? She really balanced fear with not wanting to not wanting to bother her friends too much. Reign Edwards plays the best friend who has more sense than most horror movie characters. The killer is played as an uncredited, non-speaking role and his power comes from how understated he is. You can get a lot of scares from just standing there calmly. There is also a nice, creepy cameo from Tony Todd (who we visited last week). Obviously, the actors in the park itself are great at acting like real scare actors.

Overall, I really liked this movie. The setting obviously did a lot for the movie and it was a gimmick that I have seen before but not on this scale. The premise is everything in this movie although I enjoyed the addition of the modern theme exploring the harassment of females. Nothing felt heavy-handed and it was just a fun romp through a horrible, scary environment which is refreshing sometimes. It felt a little bit like an old-school horror movie with a new school production style.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: