A group of friends get more than they bargained for when attending a celebration of all things horror in Owen Egerton’s Blood Fest.
Self aware horror has become a genre unto itself with many examples of projects that seek to play around with the associated tropes and explore them through affectionate mocking. Standouts in this subgenre include Scream and Cabin in the Woods with many others doing the same sort of thing. It’s a well worn idea and it’s hard to imagine there’s any more to say about the formulaic nature of horror movies considering how many of them there has been and how many deconstructions there are.
Unfortunately this film brings nothing new or interesting to the conversation. The point the film lost me personally was very early on when one of the main characters asks the others if they have noticed that horror movies contain certain rules that always crop up. Considering the obsession the main characters have with the genre there is no way that they have never discussed this before yet the film plays the moment as if they are talking about it for the first time. It’s actually a microcosm for the film itself as it too plays out as if it’s first in line to create a self aware parody of the horror genre.
The story involves Dax (Robbie Kay), Krill (Jacob Batalon), Sam (Seychelle Gabriel) and Ashley (Barbara Dunkelman) heading to “Blood Fest”; a massive horror celebration that turns out to be a real life house of horrors when the host (Owen Egerton) releases his own home made menagerie of villains and creatures on the unsuspecting crowd turning a night of fun into a desperate struggle for survival.
It’s not bad as ideas go but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. The problem with pointing out horror tropes is that it has to be followed by subverting them in an interesting way or otherwise offering some kind of comment that stands out otherwise what you have is something that actively talks about how cliché it is. This happens repeatedly throughout this film with repeated mentions of not splitting up, not wandering into dark enclosed spaces and other such examples of stupid things characters do in horror films before meeting a gruesome end without doing anything clever afterwards. Characters end up doing those things because they see no other way out and the end result is as predicted. If the aim had been to prove why these predictable tropes are necessary in an impressively meta way then I could have seen the purpose behind pointing them out but all the film does is make the audience aware of what cliché is about to play out before letting it happen so it is constantly unclear just what the film is trying to say about the horror genre other than “it’s really predictable a lot of the time” which certainly doesn’t take 90 minutes to get across.
This would have been somewhat forgivable if the characters were engaging or likeable. Dax and Sam fare the best out of who we follow but they couldn’t really be considered interesting or deep as they are mainly defined by one specific trait that carries them through the film. This is itself a cliché associated with the genre that the film fails to subvert or play with. One thing that does work about them is that their interactions feel real with a connection between them that feels lived in. Out of the entire cast they definitely deserve to die the least and Robbie Kay shows some leading man potential through his performance even if he doesn’t have an awful lot to do.
Jacob Batalon’s Krill is fairly insufferable throughout as he is saddled with making the inappropriate comments designed to be endearing in a socially awkward sort of way. Something between how he is written and how he is performed means that this doesn’t really work. Faring worse than that was aspiring actress Ashley who is an aspiring actress who has so far managed to secure the part of “Topless Girl No. 4”. Her performance in this film exhibits all the range associated with that sort of role which makes her the least interesting member of the cast. Once again the actor can’t necessarily be blamed for that as Ashley is written to be as shallow as the other characters say she is so the script does her no favours.
There are other characters here and there that are barely worth mentioning and there is a bizarre cameo appearance from Zachary Levi that is clearly supposed to be a lot funnier than it is. There is also a twist associated with a particular character that can be easily predicted from very early on.
Some clever ideas do exist within the missed opportunities. I was impressed by the justification for having Zombies, Vampires and other such creatures in a world where they don’t actually exist. The explanations did make sense within the context of what the film was trying to achieve and they are used to decent comedic effect in some cases. Some of the individual set pieces are entertaining enough in their own right as well though never rise to the point of becoming genuinely scary.
An unoriginal misguided attempt to make a self aware horror movie. In order to do this successfully a film has to point out these clichés and then do something interesting with them to justify making reference to them but this never happens so all that happens is that they are proven to be things that happen in horror movies. The characters are similarly unengaging with some coming better off than others but none of them really being enough to carry the film. There are a handful of good ideas such as the justification for having fictional horror mainstays such as Zombies and Vampires used to attack the crowd and a handful of the individual set piece moments are entertaining in their own right but these aren’t enough to save the film from being anything more than another dull, repetitive and formulaic horror movie.
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