Escape rooms and haunted attractions are arguably at peak popularity right now. Horror filmmakers haven’t missed this trend either. In the last few years, we’ve seen The Houses That October Built and Hell House LLC, with their respective sequels, cash in on the craze. Now this week Lionsgate and CBS Films release their Halloween park slasher film Hell Fest to select theatres in North America.
What Is Hell Fest About?
Hell Fest boasts a lean and simple story. A group of young and attractive college-aged friends pay a visit to a horror-themed amusement park on Halloween. When a masked man silently follows them through the park, they chalk it up as all part of the show. But when a real dead body turns up, the line between entertainment and reality becomes blurred.
Who’s Making It and When Does it Come Out?
Promotional materials for Hell Fest are hyping the connection to The Walking Dead via legendary producer Gale Anne Hurd. But there are a few warning signs prospective audiences should note. Director Gregory Plotkin previously helmed Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension. This was the final Paranormal Activity film, which has the dubious distinction of being the worst of the series.
The number of writers credited for the story also raises some alarm bells. In total, five people have some writing credit on Hell Fest. Perhaps the most recognizable name on the screenplay is Seth M. Sherwood. Among his writing credits, Sherwood helped pen the Leatherface screenplay. That may or may not be a good thing depending on your feelings about that Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel. On the bright side, Plotkin has served as an editor for a few top-notch horror films including Get Out and Happy Death Day. Hell Fest is getting a small theatrical release across North America.
Who’s In It?
Hell Fest wisely follows the casting principles of teen slasher films. Most of the cast is populated by young, attractive actors you may recognize from soap operas or bit roles. Relative newcomer Amy Forsyth appears to be the lead ‘final girl’. But Bex Taylor-Klaus, from Scream: The TV Series, anchors the young cast. Taylor-Klaus was a standout in the Scream series, and has also impressed with guest roles in Arrow and The Killing. Horror royalty Tony Todd is also listed, but genre fans shouldn’t get too excited. It’s not unusual for promotional materials to exaggerate the role of a bigger name genre star. For my money, I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of Todd in Hell Fest.
What Do The Promotional Materials Tell Us?
To be honest, the promotional materials for Hell Fest have been sparse. Neither the regular trailer nor the red band trailer below offer much insight into what horror fans can expect. Hell Fest is obviously a slasher film, and the red band trailer promises some gore. But none of the marketing materials say much about tone or just how much gore we can expect. Lionsgate Films are letting the catchy premise and time of year sell tickets.
See It In Theatres Or Wait For It To Hit Streaming Platforms?
This is a tough one. My gut instinct is that Hell Fest will be more Truth or Dare than Happy Death Day. That is, I am expecting a rather forgettable, generic teen-friendly slasher that offers a handful of decent jumps and kills. But we’re also almost into October and there a are a few weeks before Halloween is released. Horror fans looking to get into the season likely want something to hold them over. For my money, between its premise and some nice creepy visuals, Hell Fest should prove to at least make for some harmless horror fun.