Review for Blood Fest
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of horror movies at the best of times, but over the last few years, I have reluctantly developed an appreciation of Rooster Teeth, a studio that eschews the traditional forms of entertainment distribution; instead concentrating on online streaming to get their product out there. I say reluctantly, as at first glance their output is the last thing I’d choose to watch. Red vs. Blue is machinima, using video game footage to create a narrative. Their imaginative interpretation of the Halo game shouldn’t work, but it is hilarious, and good storytelling as well. When I first heard of RWBY with its aspirations to be a US anime show, I scoffed, but then I watched it, and became hooked. Then they crowd funded a live-action feature film. It’s bound to be low-budget and naff, I thought. Lazer Team was indeed low-budget, but it was also quite entertaining, and has deservedly gotten a sequel. So when Manga Entertainment announced Blood Fest, a horror movie from Rooster Teeth, I didn’t think twice before requesting a check disc. Besides, it is October; it’s practically traditional to watch a horror movie, even for me.
Dax and his mother were watching a horror movie on Halloween, when an intruder broke into their house and murdered Dax’s mother, before being shot by his father. Somewhat perversely, Dax has grown up to be a total horror fan, and this year he’s looking to attend Blood Fest, a horror festival set across 900 acres of forest, celebrating some of the finest movies in the genre. His psychiatrist father has other ideas, destroying his ticket, and even his sister reckons that Blood Fest will suck, but Dax will do whatever it takes to get in. Sure enough, with his friends Krill and Sam, he’s front and centre for the opening of Blood Fest, when promoter Anthony Walsh comes on stage to make a statement.
Tired of modern, mass produced and normalised ‘safe’ horror, he wants to take back horror to the genuinely frightening and niche genre it used to be. He’s going to make his masterpiece at Blood Fest, the whole thing will be filmed, and all of the guests will be victims. He’s not kidding either, as becomes apparent when the chainsaws start slicing into flesh. As everyone flees in a total panic, Dax might just know enough in the way of horror movie tropes and clichés to get them out alive...
You get the film in something approaching 2:1 widescreen 1080p, with DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround English audio with optional English subtitles. The image is clear and sharp, detail levels are excellent, and the digital cinematography comes across well, other than a couple of jerky pans. By and large, the visual effects work is seamless, unfortunately all except for the climactic scene, the last place you want to be thrown out of a movie. The surround is really quite well designed, immersive and effective as it should be in a horror film, and the dialogue remains clear throughout. The subtitle font is a little small though.
After trailers for Achievement Hunter Season 1, Gen:Lock and Lazer Team 2, the disc boots to an animated menu.
In terms of extras, the biggie is the Filmmakers’ Commentary.
Otherwise you get a 1:31 slideshow of The Art and Design of Blood Fest, some before and after footage in Blood Fest VFX Breakdown running to 3:10, 2:58 of comedy in Gus Fest, 5:04 of deleted scenes, six in total, and the theatrical and teaser trailers for the film.
I had a good time watching Blood Fest, despite the fact that I was distracted by a case of “where have I seen him before-itis” for the duration. It turns out that I’d previously seen the film’s star, Robbie Kay in Heroes Reborn. But Blood Fest is an enjoyable comedy horror, one which in the vein of films like Scream parodies its own genre with knowing characters referencing all the clichés and tropes, and who are painfully self-aware about the hellish situations that they find themselves in. In terms of structure, it’s like a warped Truman Show, with a devilish director orchestrating the slaughter of thousands of attendees all in the name of his perfect vision.
While everyone else loses their heads (literally in some cases), Dax, Krill and Sam are savvy enough to stay one step ahead, have enough horror movie nous to stand a chance of surviving. So they gather a group of friends and hangers-on in order to escape, but in traditional slasher movie style, not all of them are going to make it. And Walsh throws all manner of horror icons at them, zombies, vampires, clowns and slashers. There is plenty of variety, entertaining twists and turns, and even a torture porn interlude Saw style. Blood Fest never lets the attention drift.
Low budget independent fare it may be, but it certainly doesn’t show on screen, with production values and acting performances that live up to the genre. The story is played tongue-in-cheek, and if the end result is more fun than it is scary, that’s no bad thing. The only real annoyance is just how predictable the twists were. They were so obvious that they felt more like spoilers after the fact. But if you’re looking for a little splatter and gore this Halloween, you could do a lot worse than Blood Fest.