By Joseph McAleer
NEW YORK (CNS) — With “Hell Fest” (CBS Films), director Gregory Plotkin serves up a decidedly unoriginal film filled with screams, sickening gore and a masked serial killer wielding an ax. It’s an extreme parade of mayhem moving toward a perverse conclusion and, as such, unsuitable for viewers of any age.
The traveling horror carnival of the title has arrived in town, and on Halloween weekend three couples head out for a night of “fun.” Sensible Natalie (Amy Forsyth) has a crush on equally levelheaded Gavin (Roby Attal); Natalie’s best friend, Brooke (Reign Edwards), has hooked up with Quinn (Christian James); and wild girl Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus) fancies similarly zany Asher (Matt Mercurio).
“Fear is an aphrodisiac,” Taylor tells the group.
With VIP tickets in hand (enabling them to skip the lines), our randy sextet eagerly enters the park. Hell Fest lives up to its name with its ghouls and goblins, haunted houses and mazes, displays of disemboweled naked corpses and a zombie nun.
But there’s also a real-life, unnamed murderer (Stephen Conroy) on the prowl. We meet him in the first scene when he stabs a comely lass and adds her body to one of the gruesome tableaux, hanging it from the ceiling. The macabre amusement park, replete with weirdos, proves the perfect venue for his slaughter spree.
Poor Natalie becomes the object of the predator’s desire, and he stalks her around the attractions. Along the way, heads are smashed and eyes gouged.
Predictably, there’s no reference to the Bible nor to the true meaning of Satan’s playground. This version of “Hell” is simply a cool place to visit with a warped idea of fun.
Except, of course, for those unlucky few with a one-way ticket.
The film contains graphic bloody violence with gore, images of nudity, sexual banter, two obscene gestures and pervasive profane and rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.