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Blood Fest (2018)

Cinedigm
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/2/2018

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/20/2018

If there's anything that horror movie fans like, it's horror movies. If you've ever been to a horror movie convention or wandered into an online chat about scary films, then you know just how passionate these individuals can be. Therefore, it's easy to see why horror movies which are about horror movies and horror movie fans can be very popular. Movies like The Monster Squad or Fright Night make horror fanatics all aquiver, as they focus on the character's love for all things scary. Given that, a movie like Blood Fest, which is a horror movie about horror movies featuring horror movie fans who are in a horror movie, should be a slam-dunk, right?

Dax (Robbie Kay) is a young man who loves horror movies. His mother introduced him to scary films and he's used them to deal with a tragedy which befell the family. Unfortunately, his father, Dr. Conway (Tate Donovan), went in the opposite direction and now protests horror films. Despite this, Dax is determined to attend "Blood Fest", a huge celebration of horror movie presented by famed producer Anthony Walsh (Owen Egerton), as his best friends, Krill (Jacob Batalon) and Sam (Seychelle Garbriel), are going. Dax utilizes his friendship with budding actress Ashley (Barbara Dunkelman) to score a ticket. When Dax arrives a "Blood Fest", he can't believe his eyes. Walsh has transformed hundreds of acres into an enclosure which houses re-creations of many classic horror movies. Dax and his friends can't believe how realistic everything looks. But, they soon realize that in "Blood Fest", the line between fantasy and reality is quite thin.

Let's go ahead and address the elephant in the room. Yes, licensing, or the lack thereof, hurts Blood Fest. Obviously, this low-budget, independent movie could not secure the rights to real classic horror movies, so instead we get a selection of rather vague stand-ins. There are generic zombies, vampires, and clowns which aren't tied to any film in particular. There is also a scene which is clearly meant to re-create something from the Saw series. The only thing mentioned by name here is "The Arborist", a series of movies which exist in this universe. (And which take place on Arbor Day.) While the inclusion of real movies would have been nearly impossible for Blood Fest, the use of no-name monsters doesn't help.

As for the film itself, Writer/Director Owen Egerton certainly presents us with an interesting idea. But, he immediately bites off more than he can chew. The scope of the film is enormous and incredibly impressive for a project with a reported budget of just over $1 million. But, things quickly become too episodic, as the group runs from one cinematic threat to another. These scenes are intercut with footage of the team overseeing the carnage (which feels a lot like The Cabin in the Woods). There's also a subplot concerning a group of video gamers who think that they are watching and controlling a game which made little sense and added nothing to the movie. The big twist in the third act is easy to figure out and the finale is a mess. The other biggest problem with Blood Fest is the tone. The film comes from Rooster Teeth, a group known for making comedies and anime. There are certainly attempts at humor in this movie and there are some funny lines, but it also tries to be funny and gory. Balancing humor and horror is not easy and Blood Fest never truly finds its stride.

As a horror movie fan, I really wanted to like Blood Fest and I loved the idea of an attraction which is like "Halloween Horror Nights" on steroids. But, the lack of recognizable franchises and the scattershot nature of the film truly hurts it. The cast is appealing -- it's surprising to see Jacob Batalon go from Spider-Man: Homecoming to this -- but they can't overcome the thinly stretched material. If "Blood Fest" were real, I might go, I can't recommend that you check out the movie.

Blood Fest takes place in a universe where video stores still exist on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Cinedigm. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark and bright. The image has a distinct crispness to it, which creates obvious depth and detail. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action sequences bring us detailed surround sound and stereo effects. These effects help to place us in the middle of the action and highlight many sounds coming from off-screen. The stereo effects show nice separation and the subwoofer adds presence.

The Blood Fest Blu-ray Disc contains a handful of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Owen Egerton, Barbara Dunkelman, Editor Dan Hirons, and Executive Producer Matt Hullum. "The Art and Design of Blood Fest" (2 minutes) is a reel of concept art and character designs. "Blood Fest VFX Breakdown" (3 minutes) takes several shots from the movie and shows how visual effects were layered in. "Gus Fest" (3 minutes) is a short which shows someone named Gus Sorola at "Blood Fest". Are we supposed to know who this is? "Slashed Scenes" offers six DELETED SCENES. The extras are rounded out by a TEASER TRAILER and a THEATRICAL TRAILER.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long