It’s always fun to see what that first studio horror movie will be every Halloween season. Its usually something safe and something that is tied to some other, already established franchise. Releasing a horror movie around the beginning of October is a pretty safe bet but something strange happened over the weekend… a horror movie bombed. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a big title but I was still shocked to see something like Hellfest fail in its first week. I have been racking my brain all day and cant seem to figure out why. The marketing was on point, the time of year was perfect and there was very little for the movie to compete against. I guess you could chalk it up to bad luck, but I think it is something that us horror fans have to admit… we don’t have the numbers to truly support original (theatrical) releases. Hellfest is not perfect or groundbreaking, but I think that genre fans supported this movie. The problem was that your Aunt Brenda and your shitty cousins couldn’t be bothered. For those of us who did make it out, we were treated to a fun but disposable horror movie that harkens back to the old school slasher craze. Is it original? Fuck no! but is it fun? Yep!
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.
Hellfest is one of those movies that (most likely) would have done pretty well on a VOD service, but didn’t have that star power to bring in big crowds. Studio horror has been killing it (financially) with franchises like The Conjuring and Insidious, but those movies have a lot more going on. This movie is unique in the way that it presented a very simple slasher story set in a fun, haunted house setting. The characters are two-dimensional (at best) fodder for the killer, but that is enough for a movie like this. When I watch a slasher movie there is only one thing that matters… good kills!
Lucas Godfrey and his team put together a great array of kills that were both shocking and fun. The blend of practical and CGI were seamless, giving us all the visceral experience that we are hoping for. So often, these types of films cut away as soon as it gets good. Hellfest decides to lean into the gore and give one of the best scenes of ocular trauma since Fulci’s Zombie. I would be lying if I said there was anything else of real merit in the movie, but that is what makes it so much fun. I am sure that the box office numbers will pick up over the next few weeks, its still pretty early in October. I just hope that CBS Films gives it a chance to find its audience. Hellfest is currently playing in theaters everywhere.