• Hell Fest (Lionsgate Entertainment) 4k UHD/Blu-ray Combo Pack Review

    Released by: Lionsgate Entertainment
    Released on: January 8th, 2018.
    Director: Gregory Plotkin
    Cast: Amy Forsyth, Reign Edwards, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Christian James, Roby Attal, Matt Mercurio, Tony Todd
    Year: 2018
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    Hell Fest – Movie Review:

    Natalie (Amy Forsyth) has been away at college but has taken a break to visit her old friend Brooke (Reign Edwards) only to find out that she's rooming with Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus), a girl she didn't really get along with in her younger years. Not to worry, however, as Gavin (Roby Attal), a nice guy with a bit of a crush on Natalie, has arranged for them all to head over to Hell Fest. In fact, he’s even arranged VIP tickets for everyone, including Brooke’s boyfriend Quinn (Christian James) and Taylor’s beau Asher (Matt Mercurio).

    So, what is Hell Fest exactly? It’s a travelling horror show of sorts, involving different haunted house-style attractions and scary mazes to wander through. Despite the fact that it seems a little ravey in spots, it looks like a lot of fun. The group of six meet up at the gates and head inside for what they assume will be a night of spooky fun, and that’s exactly what they get… at first. Soon enough, a creepy guy in a creepy mask is stalking Natalie through one of the mazes and then stealing the photos that she and Gavin took in the photo booth. Brooke tries to chase him down and get the pictures back but it’s no use. Eventually the group decides to head to the more intense area of the park, the Dead Lands, but Gavin has his heart set on winning Natalie a stuffed animal and so he stays back. When he doesn’t return, Natalie starts to worry and soon enough, the group realizes that the creepy guy who was stalking them wasn’t just an actor or employee…

    Hell Fest doesn’t bother much with character development, and honestly, that’s okay. We spend literally about ten-minutes at the beginning of the movie to establish the different character types and then from there, it’s straight into the park where director Gregory Plotkin (who directed Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension) starts to build tension pretty much immediately. Sure, at first, it’s playful stuff – the Hell Fest employees jumping out and scaring people, monster-ish creatures poking about, but it works. It sets the tone effectively for what’s to come. We don’t really need to know the six main characters any better than we do.

    The performances are fine, the cast made up entirely of younger actors with more experience in television work than film. Amy Forsyth (of Channel Zero) and Roby Attal are both likeable enough to compensate for and Taylor-Klaus (of Arrow and Scream: The TV Series) and Matt Mercurio’s more obnoxious characters. That’s not to slam either actor, they play their parts well, they’re just written as over-the-top and goofy. Reign Edwards (of the MacGuyver reboot) is good as the ‘middle ground’ between her two very different friends, and Christian James (of Freefall) is fine as her boyfriend. A cameo from Candyman’s Tony Todd as a ringleader of sorts is noteworthy – he looks cool in the part, even if it is a small one.

    Really though, it’s the pacing and the set decoration that makes this one work. The movie might not be deep but it does have some effectively creepy imagery and move at a very quick pace. The use of color is fantastic and the sets that were created for this, meant to replicate different rooms in the various mazes and exhibits that the characters wander through, are wonderfully morbid and frequently grotesque. The end result is a very entertaining watch, a movie that puts the fun back into the genre in a big way.

    Hell Fest – Blu-ray Review:

    Hell Fest arrives on 4k UHD from Lionsgate framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and presented in 2160p with Dolby Vision and HDR in an HEVC / H.265 encoded transfer. Shot digitally, there’s clearly no grain or print damage to discuss. Detail is quite strong here, depth and texture as well, but it’s the colors that really stand out. This is a beautifully lit film that makes use of a lot of different primary colored lighting and it is reproduced really, really well here. Reds, greens, yellows and purples often bathe the characters and the sets and it helps to create a really interesting look for the film. Black levels are very strong as well, there’s no crush to complain about and shadow detail remains impressive. Skin tones look nice and lifelike and the picture is free of compression artifacts.

    The English language DTS-X track on this disc is also really strong. There’s frequent surround activity used throughout the movie to help build suspense and give a bit of punch to some of the film’s well-timed jump scares. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to understand throughout while the score and sound effects show nice depth and range.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English, English SDH and Spanish. Optional English 2.0 Dolby Audio™ Optimized for Late-Night Listening, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Audio and English Descriptive Audio options are also included.

    Aside from a trailer for the feature, the only extra on the disc is a seventeen-minute behind the scenes segment made up of cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage and footage shot by the cast members on set using their cell phones. The six main cast members are interviewed here and all speak quite highly of their experiences while Plotkin talks about the importance of creating likeable characters for the audience to latch onto and some of the maze set pieces. We also hear about how the production avoided CGI in favor of practical effects, how they used a real amusement park for some scenes and sound stages for others and how Plotkin tried to keep the cast engaged and frightened during the shooting of certain scenes. It’s a bit of a fluff piece but worth checking out once.

    Menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc. As this is a combo pack release, we also get a Blu-ray disc containing the same extras as are found on the UHD, and an insert card for a digital download of the film. This release comes packaged with a slipcover.

    Hell Fest – The Final Word:

    Hell Fest is a blast, a visually impressive and creative looking picture that moves at a brisk pace and that features some solid scenes of suspense. Lionsgate’s UHD/Blu-ray combo pack is light on the extra features fans might have wanted, but it looks fantastic and sounds really good too. Lots of fun to be had with this one – recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Hell Fest Blu-ray screen caps!