Hell Fest follows a group of friends (including Amy Forsyth’s Natalie, Bex Taylor-Klaus’ Taylor, and Reign Edwards’ Brooke) as they make their way to the title horror-themed amusement park, with chaos and violence ensuing as it becomes increasingly clear that the pals, but especially Natalie, are being stalked by a sinister, masked figure. It’s clear that the novelty of Hell Fest‘s very existence (ie a 1980s-style slasher) carries it for almost the entirety of its appreciatively brief running time, as filmmaker Gregory Plotkin does an effective job of initially establishing the somewhat irresistible premise and raft of typically one-dimensional characters/victims (although, having said that, Plotkin has at least selected a relatively strong selection of actors to inhabit the movie’s stock protagonists). The less-than-dense narrative is generally alleviated by an ongoing emphasis on decent kill sequences, including, in what’s ultimately the picture’s highlight, a captivating interlude detailing one doomed figure’s encounter with the killer and a malfunctioning guillotine. It’s a shame, then, that Hell Fest takes a palpable turn for the tedious in its final third, as scripters Seth M. Sherwood, Blair Butler, and Akela Cooper, having seemingly run out of things for the surviving characters to do, deliver a climactic stretch that primarily details cat-and-mouse shenanigans within an oppressively dark locale (ie it’s all just so repetitive and underwhelming). And although the movie concludes with an admittedly effective twist, Hell Fest has long-since confirmed its place as a disappointingly half-baked slasher that could and should have been better.
** out of ****