Review: BLOOD FEST Is A Wink To It's Core Audience With Enough Laughs And Gore For Everyone
Blood Fest hit the festival circuit earlier this year and has been getting talked about a lot, which is bound to happen when a flashy looking genre flick dares to take the route of offering a meta commentary on the genre. Previous films that have done so successfully have gone on to become iconic and integral pieces of horror's lineage (Scream) while others have garnered massive cult classic status and community love (The Final Girls, The Cabin in the Woods.) It's a tricky narrative but when done right, it finds a loving home.
Blood Fest does things right.
Imagine Universal Halloween Horror Nights or Fright Fest but on an even greater scale, like literally hundreds of acres. In the film, Blood Fest is an actual horror festival that is Texas Frightmare on steroids. In a wide open field, well known horror maven Anthony Walsh has constructed a massive haunt that encompasses a handful of different genres, ranging from an Evil Dead inspired zombie cabin to a big top full of clowns and even an in-film franchise centered around Arbor Day and its central killer, The Arborist. Hell, it even has a whole basement area dedicated to torture films. When Dax and best friends Sam and Krill attend, behind the back of Dax's insanely protective father, things go south when the festival ends up being a killing ground for Walsh's next film.
As a hardcore horror fan, it's hard to not instantly fall in love with the movie. The production is sleek and glossy, just big enough to make the Fest seem feasible and real. Let's face it, if it were real, every one of us would be searching for wristbands to attend. Our three central characters are all various levels of horror fans, with our lead Dax the most invested and making references to legendary and lesser known horror films throughout, even hinging a number of the jokes on the genre.
"She didn't watch Seven because she hadn't seen the first six."
That joke is not meant to appeal to everyone and I applaud screenwriter-director Owen Egerton for never shying away from inside baseball jokes and references throughout. Being a Rooster Teeth Production, Blood Fest doesn't try to even hide the "comedy" side of it's horror comedy label. Even most of the violence is with a hard splatstick quality, drawing comparisons to Zombieland and The Final Girls is an easy feat, but that's far from a bad thing. Although the film is straddled firmly in a seat of humor, it's easily seen that Egerton is a horror fan all in his own right. The various different "lands" of the park are all incredibly fun and true to their respective niche, playing with coulrophobia, effervescent fog lit zombies, and Eastern European vampire vixens. A lot is played for laughs but Egerton and crew aren't afraid to get gruesome when it's called for; the zombies versus clowns scene is one for the books.
The cast is anchored by a fantastic cameo from Zachary Levi and the veteran Tate Donovan playing the overbearing psychiatrist father, Dr. Conway. Egerton is a full on triple threat with director and writer duties stacked on top of co-lead with his over the top and enjoyably maniacal portrayal of industry star Anthony Walsh. Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming) also steals most scenes in his endearing portrayal of proto-geek Krill. Robbie Kay handles lead duties just fine, though he's never quite able to step into the heroic final boy role he's written into.
Overall, Blood Fest is a blast. It has a plot that is astronomically unfeasible but it doesn't matter because you're having so much fun with the film. As a horror fan, it's a must see. As a casual moviegoer, it has enough fun and gore played with a glossy sheen that it's undeniably enjoyable. It's splatstick meets meta and once it hits the gas it never lets up.