Hell Fest

"...and then, at the end, Satan torments you for all eternity!"

The rare slasher film that’s not a sequel to or remake of a previous one, “Hell Fest” exploits the premise of a traveling Halloween carnival being infiltrated by an actual masked killer who avoids detection by blending in with the hired scarers. Directed by Gregory Plotkin (“Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension”) from a screenplay with five names attached to it, the film is free of subtext and provides only minimal backstory: College student Natalie (Amy Forsyth), her best friend Brooke (Reign Edwards), Brooke’s sarcastic punk roommate Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus), and their respective male love interests go to the Hell Fest amusement park on Halloween night, where they — but Natalie in particular — are stalked by a Michael Myers-ish figure. The scares are modestly effective, and the between-scares scenes of six lively young people horsin’ around at a spook alley are tolerable. The place itself is a vast theme park full of creative environments (this is supposed to be a traveling operation?), and it’s fun to watch the characters interact with them even when they’re not being killed. Horror stalwart Tony Todd (the Candyman himself) has a one-scene cameo as if to give the potential new franchise its bona fides. It could have used more themed kills — smashing someone’s head with an oversized “test your strength” mallet is all we get — but slasher movies are like trick-or-treat candy: You can’t be too choosy.

Crooked Marquee

B- (1 hr., 28 min.; R, a lot of harsh profanity, a lot of violence.)