Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Phil's Halloween Horror Watch: Phil sees HELL FEST at the Cinelux Tennant Station Stadium 11 - October 3, 2018

Welcome back to Day Three of my Halloween Horror Watch! Sometimes, serendipity finds you when you least expect it. So I was in Morgan Hill today, calling on one of my accounts when I look across the parking lot and see the Cinelux Tennant Station Stadium 11. And I thought to myself, "Man, I haven't seen a movie there in a long ol' time. I wonder what's playing there?" So I walked on over and I saw they're screening the new Lionsgate/CBS Films fright film HELL FEST!! And then I said to myself, "Holy shit!! I wanna see that!!" I then preceded to go inside, purchased a ticket, made my way to Theater 5, found a comfy chair and awaited the movie to unfold before my evil eyes.

The film's official synopsis: 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. College student Natalie (Amy Forsyth) is visiting her childhood best friend Brooke  (Reign Edwards) and her roommate Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus ). If it was any other time of year these three and their boyfriends might be heading to a concert or bar, but it is Halloween which means that like everyone else they will be bound for Hell Fest – a sprawling labyrinth of rides, games, and mazes that travels the country and happens to be in town. Every year thousands follow Hell Fest to experience fear at the ghoulish carnival of nightmares. But for one visitor, Hell Fest is not the attraction – it is a hunting ground. An opportunity to slay in plain view of a gawking audience, too caught up in the terrifyingly fun atmosphere to recognize the horrific reality playing out before their eyes. As the body count and frenzied excitement of the crowds continues to rise, he turns his masked face to Natalie, Brooke, Taylor and their boyfriends who will fight to survive the night.

I came into this screening dead cold, meaning I didn't know anything about the film. Now I had heard the title mentioned on a couple of podcasts that I listen to, but didn't have a clue. I walked out of that screening, thinking how much fun the movie was!

First, I really enjoyed the performances of all of the female actresses. Amy Forsyth was fantastic as out heroine Natalie. She looked and sounded like a real young adult in her 20's, not Hollywood's two-dimensional, cookie cutter caricature of one. She brings a level of believability to her performance, and I found it refreshing to see. Reign Edwards does her best to make her character Brooke not the token black person who gets killed first. At first, she doesn't believe Natalie's claims, but she sure as hell does when the killer comes for her. She's the goofy and lovable best friend and I liked that. Bex Taylor-Klaus's Taylor was the one I related to the most, because I saw myself in her. I'm that horror loving fanatic who loves to get scared, gets in on the celebration of the park, and thrives in its environment. And I know quite of few women who Taylor reminded me of as well. Together, these ladies keep the film grounded and made me emotionally invested in them.

Kudos to filmmaker Gregory Plotkin, who makes he directorial feature length debut with the film. It's visually beautiful, framed stylistically, and captures all of the awesome gore and kills. He also pays tribute to films of horrors past. There is a killer eye scene that is haunting familiar to the late, great Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE 2! The color pallet is very reminiscent to Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA. The killer's body language reminded me of both Micheal Myers from HALLOWEEN. The tone of the movie feels like an 80's slasher flick; it doesn't take itself seriously, the kills are bloody awesome, the tension was cool, and, I had a good time watching it. It's not going to change the slasher genre, or the face of the horror as whole, but it's contributing a rich legacy of movies that diehard fans love and does a great job of being exactly what it is.

Another contributing factor I really liked about the film was the ending. So I won't be spoiling the film, but it did not end the way I thought it was going to!! Holy crap I was not expecting this kind of ending!! It leaves the film wide open for a possible sequel, and I'm very interested of where it could go! Kudos to the entire cast and crew for making an awesome horror film!

HELL FEST is a fun-filled, gory, faced-paced, slice 'em and dice 'em, slasher flick that will entertain fans this Halloween season!! Again, it's not gonna change the horror genre, but will be remembered as one of the better horror films from Hollywood that isn't a remake or sequel! I hope this does become a new franchise, as there's so much potential for expansion! So go see this film on the big screen this month and just have fun!! 4 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

HELL FEST is playing in theaters nationwide, including at the Cinelux Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

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