SXSW 2018: Blood Fest Review – An Uneven Love Letter to Horror
Starring Robbie Kay, Jacob Batalon, Seychelle Gabriel, Jacob Batalon, Barbara Dunkelman
Written by Owen Egerton
Directed by Owen Egerton
Hailing from the YouTube giant Rooster Teeth, Blood Fest is a horror comedy that is obviously made by fans of the genre, especially when it comes to meta horror. Clearly inspired by Scream and The Cabin in the Woods, Blood Fest has a lot of heart but it also comes with some glaring issues.
The film follows Dax (Kay), a young man who, years ago, witnessed the murder of his mother. His father, played by Tate Donovan, is on a mission to prove that horror movies cause violence in society (a topic we hear all too often), and, as such, will not let Dax attend Blood Fest, a massive event in the middle of nowhere the celebrates horror by mixing a country carnival with haunted attractions as well as panel events and more. The catch is that people start dying at this event…for real. Now it’s up to Dax and his friends Sam (Gabriel), Krill (Batalon), and Ashley (Dunkelman) to somehow make it through the fairgrounds in order to escape Blood Fest.
The great thing about Blood Fest is that they take a tried and true concept – people dying in a haunted house/amusement park/whatever where bodies can easily be hid – and flip it on its head by making the reveal happen right away. The whole point of the film is that it’s pure chaos, so the “festivities” start early and they go hard. People are chainsawed in half, flying daggers penetrate skulls, and general mayhem ensues.
Dax and Co.’s mission is to go through the various themed locations, like a zombie-infested graveyard or the clown-ridden circus area, in order to make it to the back entrance, where they hope Krill will be able to override the key card-protected exit and escape to freedom. Obviously, they encounter a great deal of resistance along the way, orchestrated by the evil Walsh (Egerton) whose primary goal is to stealthily film all the violence to create his own intense, unflinching horror movie.
Moving along at a steady clip, Blood Fest never overstays its welcome and it is undeniably entertaining and fun. There’s more than enough gore, violence, and horror visuals to please any fan of the genre but the issues arise when you look at it from a technical perspective.
The story is littered with plot holes, some of which are so large and unexplained that it is impossible to overlook. Additionally, the editing can be pretty spotty, resulting in scenes that have an uneven flow. And when it comes to the homages and nods to other horror films, there is no subtlety whatsoever. In fact, the film shoves them in your face to the point that you want to say, “Okay, I get it already.” Also, why does the film expect me to believe that Dax and his friends are the only people at a gigantic horror extravaganza who are well versed enough in the rules of the genre so as to survive? The idea that no one else is on their level is rather absurd.
If you’re able to look past these flaws, or simply accept them, Blood Fest should certainly please a great many. Played right, it could become the party horror film of the year.
Blood Fest is made by horror fans for horror fans. However, while it’s thoroughly entertaining, it’s also chock full of plot holes that are far too big to pass off.