A bland and formulaic slasher with little worth recommending, Fright Fest is a profound disappointment even for genre fans.
If you’re going to make a film titled Fright Fest and screen that film at Frightfest 2018, you’re going to be subject to a little more scrutiny than usual. One might admire the gumption of that cheeky titling, but in the case of Ante Novakovic’s film, it’s more like stupidity. Drawing more attention to Fright Fest only serves to highlight how terrible it is.
The setup is a familiar one. Dylan Walsh plays Spencer Crowe, a disgraced but prolific horror director employed by the Mayor of Somertown to oversee an interactive experience that’s a bit like those seaside haunted house tours, only on acid. This, by the way, is to earn the support of the public in the upcoming election, although I’m not sure frightening the voting public half to death is a sound strategy for policymakers – and that’s before the murderers show up.
Yes, Crowe’s Fright Fest is complicated when a busload of prisoners crashes into the attraction – which is being staged in an abandoned asylum, naturally – and the particularly nutty one gets loose. Cue lots of mask-wearing and axe-swinging and suchlike, interspersed with pilfered scenes and genre elements that you’ll recognise from many other, better films.
Here’s Crowe, for instance, observing the carnage on a bank of monitors while steadily getting off on the majesty of his own creation. Here are some touristy types getting a bit of a shock when the murder they just giddily observed turns out to have been real. And here’s a fellow prisoner, who’s definitely nuts but not quite as nuts as the psychopath one and is therefore kind of a hero. But can you trust him? More importantly, do you care?
The only potentially noteworthy thing about Fright Fest is the weird, old-fashioned circus aesthetic, where women are scantily clad and there to be ogled while a literal dwarf runs around for entertainment. It’s probably mean-spirited enough to be offensive if you’re the type to be upset by such things, but really it’s just another profoundly misguided stylistic choice in a film of nothing but. Fright Fest will enjoy a DVD release courtesy of Frightfest Presents later this year, where the look-at-me title will have even less cache, and you can look forward to rolling your eyes at the cover and never bothering to watch it. I make these sacrifices so you don’t have to.