pumpkin person rating: 4/10


The killer in Hell Fest wearing his very uninspired mask

(this review contains minor spoilers, but honestly there’s nothing to spoil)

A bunch of coworkers and I went out to see Hell Fest (directed by Gregory Plotkin) last night.  The concept was good but unoriginal:  a masked killer slashes people at a horror themed amusement park and gets away with it because most people think it’s part of the show.  The film could have been made in 1981 in that it followed almost every one of the tropes of the 80s slasher sub-genre (masked slasher stalks & kills young people one by one until the heroine battles and subdues the killer, only to discover the threat has not been vanquished, cue sequel).

The main difference is that this film had higher production value than 80s slasher films, it relied on CGI for at least one of the graphic kills, the cast was much more racially diverse (a black girl and a guy who looked to be of Filipino descent were among the main characters) and the lingo was much more up-to-date (“dude” now refers to guys and girls, and “dope” is no longer just a noun that refers to drugs, but an adjective to describe anything positive).

If you watch slasher films from the early 1980s, late 70s, you’re lucky to find even one non-white as even an extra in the background, let alone in the main cast.  By the 90s you got a token minority in the cast, but the joke was that the black guy always gets killed first.  We have now reached the point where there are not one, but two non-whtes, and one of them could very well be the lead character.  Sadly, not everyone welcomes this change.

The film could have been a lot better if they put a bit more creativity into the killer’s mask, and maybe told us a bit more about him.  There was a twist at the end, but it wasn’t good enough.

Would I recommend this film?  There are so few old school slasher films that if you’re a hardcore fan of this sub-genre, I guess it’s worth the time and money just for the atmosphere, but if you’re only a casual horror fan, don’t bother.