Blood Fest (2018)
Love Horror Movies? Try Surviving One.
Horror isn't a genre for everybody. Sometimes, people prefer their spooks with a little bit of laughs as well. This is probably one of the trickier types of movies to look at - on part because humor is so subjective from person to person, but also because the plethora of movies out there that look at horror from a meta perspective or play things up for laughs already, such as Shaun of the Dead. More often than not, even the common horror flicks tend to have one character relegated to the roll of tension relief through laughs - but horror isn't the only thing this movie has to tackle. The last batch of Rooster Teeth branded movies I watched were the Lazer Team films, and although they could be enjoyed by a person who wasn't into the company's other content, it certainly didn't hurt to already enjoy their brand of humor to which those movies already played. So here we sit, ready to see if this one makes you bored or makes you, well, I'll let you finish the rhyme.
The plot of the movie on paper isn't particularly original, but it's one that still hasn't overseen it's welcome just yet - that of surviving the night through horror tropes. While not as elaborate or impressively woven as Cabin in the Woods, the movie fares more along a more blunt Scream anyways, where it's a bunch of people who are "in a horror movie" and know it, making judgement calls based around their horror movie knowledge rather than flat out just being a movie that looks at things in a large meta sense. In all honesty, that meta look is largely missing anyways - outside of some plot thread commentary on the effects of horror on a persons mental state and the likes. It really only uses tropes in the sense of how to go about things - being too loud in a graveyard raising the dead, or being a virgin getting you close to safe. Kid and friends go to a horror event, horror event ends up being pyscho-fed real, kids try to survive horror event gone foul by "playing by the rules."
Mind you, there are some interesting twists on the evils at play here - not the super large red flag villain or villain reveals mind you, I'm relatively sure that someone paying half attention will guess whats going on long before the quarter mark. No, instead I'm talking about the implementation of the "creatures" themselves. Most everything there gets explained away in a feasible manner, for the most part. Zombies? More like people hooked up with electrodes. Vampires? More like cheap foreign labor with filed teeth and a disease. Psycho killer? Well, that's pretty much face value there, but even that has an explanation that all makes it feel relatively logical. In fact, of all the horrors encountered, the only one that seems really potentially at odds is the Saw themed torture doll, who I suppose one could just call an animatronic if they really needed some form of closure. They do a pretty good spread of hitting a breadth of horror genre types there - slashers and clowns, zombies and dummies, vampires and chainsaws.
The environment itself ends up being somewhat just as diverse. Due to the setup of "theme park" party, it has plenty of distinct "zones" to it - such as a school or cabin, graveyard or woods. The color palette could be bit samey amongst these, but at the same time it does help to provide a uniformity to the environments as they change - and in part for exterior zones it's most likely down to the choice of using a color table to emphasis the night time of it more than anything else. In the long run, it'd be forgivable for a person to loose track of some of the changes however, as even though they do have these different sections, they never linger to far in a given zone - which does help as far as pacing goes, as it directs the feeling of a forced march to try and escape, which is pretty well thematically sound with whats going on in the movie.
Actors here do a good job, but it can be a relatively mixed bag. Sometimes an actor will deliver a line spot on, and other times they feel a little aloof or lost with an expression or delivery. Largely, it's still a pretty well done affair, and there are a few recognizable names in there even if you aren't familiar with other Rooster Teeth media. For those who are big into that, they will find various members thrown in around the movie - almost like Easter eggs more than anything else - beyond one of the main leads. The rolls at times can really boil down to some heavy stereotyping, although there are a few little arcs here and there. Most notable I'd wager is the character whom plays a slasher in the "movies," who sorts of grows on the impact of his movies and role after interacting with the main characters. The main character also sort of has a character arc about overcoming fear, but it really doesn't feel much more than generic on either of it's fronts.
That said, a lot of the side characters do a pretty good job of hamming up their parts in a sometimes serious way. The head lady vamp in particular entertains, and they use the imposing stature of the gardener-themed slasher quite well. The clowns laugh, the dummy rocks it's recorder-sounding Saw voice, and some of the random other extras sell their parts quite well also. For sure, if you are looking for something that tends to be more serious than jokey, this might not quite fit the bill for you, but those looking to have a good time and enjoy some ham should enjoy it well. Audio balancing for all the lines, good or bad, is done just right, so you never really have a hard time hearing things as they pop out either.
And of course, what would a movie like this be without effects? Some are... well, not so great. There's a handful in there that are pretty sad looking, I'll be honest. A good many are pretty passable or good - as long as you don't care about things being ultra realistic. It might not be anime over the top every artery and vein is hooked up to a compressor level of fake, but there is certainly a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to blood levels. Costumes tend to look quite good, and they seem to have picked their evils based around things that they could actually do as in a practical and budget-minded fashion - zombies and clowns, after all, are nothing compared to if someone wanted some twelve foot tall demon running around. The clowns probably have the most variation from actor to actor, which I do suppose makes sense, although probably the most impressive for myself is the arbor slasher, whose relatively simple outfit combines with the imposing frame of the actor to just stand out as a threat on a visual level. There's even a few explosions and projectile exorcist-style vomiting in there.
After the credits are done rolling and the movie has finished it's sequel-baiting, I got to say I wasn't disappointed. It's true that I didn't have any real expectations, but for a fun little romp it's pretty decent. At worst I'd call it middle ground, with most the moments of poor effects or questionable deliveries easily balanced out by the moments of good ones. There are jokes in there - I got a laugh out of one of them - but jokes are always a person by person thing. Perhaps first rent it to find out if it's really your kind of thing first, but I certainly feel you could do far worse.