02nd Apr2019

‘Hell Fest’ DVD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Bex Taylor-Klaus, Reign Edwards, Amy Forsyth, Tony Todd, Courtney Dietz, Michael Tourek, Christian James, Matt Mercurio, Roby Attal, Elle Graham, Alicia Rosato, Brooke Jaye Taylor, Mason Pike | Written by Seth M. Sherwood, Blair Butler, William Penick, Christopher Sey, Akela Cooper | Directed by Gregory Plotkin


Hell Fest is the latest simplistic, conventional, horror film from the depths of the money-grubbing Hollywood machine. Helmed by director Gregory Plotkin, only his second feature after highly successful stints as an editor on numerous productions, ranging from Jordan Peele’s Get Out to the Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams comedy Game Night. Plotkin is most noticeably and well known to have been a longtime series editor on the long-enduring and softly effective Paranormal Activity franchise, even helming the fifth entry Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, with little to no acclaim or credit. He returns back to the director’s chair with his latest venture in Hell Fest, with what most definitely be a divisive response from audiences ranging from loathing or loving.

There are three main positive attributes from Plotkin’s film that stops the whole venture from being DTV failure. Firstly, the editing is competent and effective, granted it does gleam in the success that James Wan and his conjuring franchise has successfully implemented, but is utilised in an eerie and haunting fashion far more being a tonal and conventional disaster. Sequences aren’t afraid to focus in and not cutaway from highly gory moments, as well as creating a space to build a moderately strong haunting mood.

Secondly, to its credit Hell Fest implements a believable and often likeable dynamic between the group of characters present on the screen. However, that being said, little to zero characteristics or development is squeezed out in the running time in order for the audience to really care or engage with the story, ultimately waiting and cheering on the inevitable – an element most undoubtedly unintentional. A factor from perhaps having five writers and therefore an influx of a multitude of voices that are trying to work or evoke a sense of companionship on screen. Even going as far as saying I suspect these writers are most definitely a decade or even double the age of the characters themselves and it shows wholeheartedly with disappointing and poor fashion.

Lastly, without intentionally spoiling anything Hell Fest has a stunner for a final scene. A stinger that hits deep and harshly to the core. As harsh as it sounds this forty-five-second scene saves the entire production from being an unglamorous bore. It’s the simplistic genre conventions and tropes, ironically, that Hell Fest fails to deliver. The basic and cliched genre is so bizarrely flat with so little self-reassurance, that results in a complete lack of potency and energy. If the complete basics of a horror production are not met with little gore, blood and simplistic exciting entertainment. What hope does that install for an audience? Little to none for sure. Perhaps it will be the third go around for Plotkin that will prove to be the success, for that, I’m hopeful for a director who clearly has talent.

Hell Fest is out now on DVD from Vertigo Releasing.


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