Sunday, 25 November 2018



Once upon a time, horror movies were mainly full of dumb Americans who'd never seen a horror movie in their lives and kept wandering into darkened rooms and getting killed because they didn't know any better. Then Scream came along and suddenly horror movies were full of dumb Americans who knew all about horror movies and how to survive them but still kept wandering into darkened rooms and getting killed. Now suddenly horror movies are full of dumb Americans who not only know and understand horror movies on the nerdiest of levels, but spend their Halloweens wandering around horror theme parks in which people dressed as monsters and maniacs actively leap out at you and chase you round generic, non-copyright installations - and still keep on wandering into darkened rooms and getting killed. How meta and postmodern and fourth wall ironic are we going to get?

In just a few years it's become as much of a subgenre (Ruin Me, American Fright Fest, The Funhouse Massacre, and Hell Fest, easily the best of the bunch) as the original slashers it's riffing on, to the extent that they're already blurring in the mind: a bunch of idiots visit a theme park full of actors dressed as generic, non-copyright screen maniacs, except that one or more of the maniacs is actually a real maniac and that's a real knife and no-one's going to believe the kids until it's too late. Sadly Blood Fest overeggs the recipe by upping the body count into the hundreds and layering on an absurd conspiracy plot, the mechanics of which are far-fetched even by wacko horror movies. Facing off against "vampires" engineered with drugs and surgery, "zombies" realised by corpses fitted with remote controls and "slashers" who are actually genuine homicidal maniacs unleashed against the guests, a handful of teens must face off against a mad film director creating his (ugh) found-footage masterpiece by editing the park's surveillance feeds. But who's really behind it all?

Two things are immediately apparent. Firstly, killing dozens of extras off doesn't make for a better film. We don't know them, we don't care about them, they're collateral damage. They don't matter any more than the innocent drivers mown down in the last Die Hard movie, the doomed prom night revellers at the end of Tragedy Girls or (worst example) the train passengers in the tiresome Wanted. What the hell, let them all die. Secondly, given the amount of blood and splat on show, the 15 certificate is absurdly lenient even by the BBFC's own frequently wonky standards, when less gloopy and graphic films are saddled with the dreaded 18.

Briefly on the list for this year's FrightFest but withdrawn after it showed up in advance at other cinemas, Blood Fest is mostly dull, despite the stupidity of the plot and the bloody excess. I'm usually a sucker for no-brain bloody slasher movies but this doesn't cut it.


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