Blood Fest (2018) starring Zachary Levi, Tate Donovan and Seychelle Gabriel. Directed by Owen Egerton.
Blood Fest opens with a mom and her kid watching the old black and white classics on a Halloween night. When mom decides to go to the kitchen for some milk she gets butchered by a masked killer, only for dad to arrive and shoot the killer dead.
The film then jumps to the kid (now 18 or whatever) waking up in his bedroom, which has horror masks and posters everywhere, you know, like Tommy Jarvis in The Final Chapter.
As the opening credits roll, we get an advertisement promoting a horror festival; which will take place on a ‘700 acre ranch in the middle of nowhere’ and will be divided into zones, with each zone having a specific theme, like Disneyworld except we get Clowntown, Living Dead Land, Tortureville, Vamp Camp and, well, you get the picture, each zone represents a subgenre of horror.
Now the movie makers probably couldn’t get the rights to the real life franchises, so instead the film gives us made up franchises, like Arbor Day and Hell’s Nest.
Well, turns out Grown Up Kid is a true horror freak and has his ticket to the festival, but dad (a prominent psychologist forbids him to go because it was, ‘these kinds of movies that drove my patient to kill your mother,’ and cuts up his Blood Fest Pass! Luckily, Grown Up Kid works in a video store and is friends with an actress from Hell’s Nest who promises she can get him into Blood Fest!
And so Grown Up Kid and his group of friends (which includes the fat one from Spider-Man: Homecoming) get inside the festival. Once inside the gates are locked and a famous horror movie director tells the crowd that they will all die because all the masked lunatics from the movies are real! And so the movie gets underway, with Grown Up Kid and his friends trying to employ the various rules of horror movies in order to survive the night, just like in Scream. They run through a zombie infested graveyard, get holed up in an Evil Dead style cabin and get stuck in traps like in the Saw movies.
The film also shows us what’s going on behind the scenes, with the director and his camera crew releasing monsters and trying to orchestrate the carnage just like in Cabin In The Woods.
The problem is, this all sounds better than the movie actually is. It’s like someone had a great idea for a movie but it just feels a little lacklustre, like they’re going through the motions. It doesn’t really feel like the filmmakers have any real passion for the many horror genres referenced in the film. The film wants to be a self-aware horror fan’s wet dream, with in-jokes and kill scenes coming at the audience left, right and centre. The problem is, the jokes aren’t funny, the characters aren’t engaging and the special effects are all crappy CGI. Also, having to invent a bunch of horror franchises when the film badly needs the real franchises just hurts the movie, it’s difficult for the audience to engage when the many scenes in the movie are filled with horror icons they’ve never heard of. As far as I could tell, the killer in Arbor Day is supposed to be Victor Crowley from Hatchet, but I got tired of trying to work out who was supposed to be who and gave up. Just a whole bunch of meh!
That spoiler thing I do:
Anyways by the end of the film it turns out that Grown Up Kid’s dad is the mastermind behind the whole thing! His plan was to give horror movies such a bad name after slaughtering everyone at Blood Fest that horror movies will be banned outright, forever! Even Grown Up Kid’s sister is in on the act.
Cue final showdown between Grown Up Kid and his dad, with the obligatory hand punching up through the ground, Carrie style, to leave it open for a sequel.
I left this film feeling it could have been so much more, stick some practical effects in there please! Also the film tries to cover too many genres, leaving the scenes to feel rushed, like the filmmakers were too concerned with trying to show us how knowledgeable they are on horror instead of giving us a streamlined, tight movie with even pacing. I would have preferred fewer genres and longer scenes.
It’s not horrible, but it’s not great either. File under: whatever.
Steve Barnard lurks in the Stygian swamps of South America. He divides his time between scouring ancient jungles for the lost City of the Monkey Children and watching horror movies. Literally any horror movie he can get his hands on. Especially Japanese ones.