This 2018 horror comedy has a few good moments and some refreshing self awareness about the genre, but it’s poor writing sinks the film in the end.
Currently streaming on Amazon, this movie follows Dax, a young horror movie fan who wants to attend a horror convention called Blood Fest. However when his staunchly anti horror psychologist father finds his convention pass, he forbids Dax from attending. With the help of his friends Sam and Krill, Dax sneaks into the convention. Once there, they discover that the convention is really a ruse to lure people into a real life horror movie. Convention employees begin murdering guests with chainsaws and knives living out their deranged horror movie fantasies. Dax and his friends must make their way through miles of their worst nightmares come to life in order to survive.
Every since Scream came out in 1996, all slasher movies have adhered to Scream’s winking self awareness. In some ways this is an asset. It makes the characters feel more real. They have seen scary movies and know what to do and not to do. Splitting up is always a bad idea. Having sex while a killer is stalking you isn’t a good use of time. However, it can also lead to a smug over-reliance on that fore-knowledge. The characters end up talking about the genre like they’re above it, but in the end they make all the same dumb mistakes and follow the same notes as every other horror movie just with a veneer of self awareness. That’s the line this movie walks, and it works for the most part. They walk the right side of that line for a lot of the runtime, but they do fall over into self aggrandizement after awhile. Toward the end, it just feels like they’re trying to be too clever for their own good.
The whole plot doesn’t make a ton of sense. The convention is run by Roger Hinckley, play by Chris Doubek. He wants to turn the night’s horrors into the words biggest and craziest snuff film because horror movies have gotten “too soft.” It’s a dumb argument. If anything, horror has gotten harder and more brutal in recent years. Also, the movie that could be made from the footage they are collecting would only be crap. It would be poorly lit go pro footage. His movie is going to suck. All that aside, there’s a big twist at the end about the true nature of the snuff film, who is behind it, and its broader implications. This twist is predictable, but it also screws up the motivations and logic of the film.
The film really succeeds or fails based on how much mileage you’ll get out of bloody violence and a self aware sense of humor. If that sounds like your thing, you’ll have a great time with it. For me it carried the film about to the halfway point. After that the issues of script and character started to weigh it all down. The characters are all serviceable. The story is just an excuse for the violence. This movie is really all about the gore and self aware commentary. If you enjoy that, this is an A. If you’re looking for anything more like I was when I watched it, it’ll end up a pretty enjoyable if forgettable time.
Half a cup of tea. C