By: Hawk Ripjaw –
Slasher films—so easy to make, so easy to screw up. Hell Fest looks like it could go either way, but I’m leaning slightly towards “probably not great, but interesting enough to take a look.” Right away, the decision to use Tony Todd as the carnival barker hyping up the theme park is a great shot of old-school nostalgia. This movie seems to know where its roots are, and that’s already a good thing. The fact that this takes place in a theme park is even better, because that immediately opens up a lot of options for atmosphere, scares, and, best of all, kills. I think what will really determine Hell Fest’s effectiveness is whether it can effectively use all of the toys and possibilities of a horror-themed amusement park. With that comes all of the pitfalls of genre tropes and cliches. The best slasher films take the same core set of tropes that make the slasher subgenre so distinctive and work them into something that is thematically distinctive. At the very least, they follow them to be just plain fun without being derivative. Whether or not Hell Fest is smart enough to do so remains to be seen.
This movie looks bad. Not interestingly bad. Not bad in a funny way. Not bad in a way I can ridicule. It looks fucking bad. Full disclosure, I’ve never been a big fan of Kevin Hart. I really don’t care for his stand-up, and I don’t love many of the movies he’s been in (although Central Intelligence and The Wedding Ringer were fine). But he seems like a nice guy from his interviews, so I’ll give any of his movies the benefit of the doubt.
But Night School looks awful. I don’t believe there is a single joke in the trailer that I actually laughed at. Not even Rob Riggle’s lines are funny. There’s just something that seems really off about this trailer. There’s such a disjointed feel to the jokes, even in the trailer, that I suspect that there is going to be really ugly flow to the writing and editing in the actual movie. It doesn’t help that nearly every character appears to be a shrill, irritating stereotype that exists only to say silly things instead of be an actual character.
I’d rather watch Ride Along on repeat for an entire week.
My burning desire for the filmography and personality of Channing Tatum is contested by the fact that I really don’t have any interest in an animated movie about Bigfoot starring him. Smallfoot is a role-reversed Bigfoot story where the Yetis are the ones who are “normal” and the humans are myths. Pretty standard kids-movie stuff, starring voice actors too recognizable to be convincing as animated creatures.
The trailer looks okay. The animation is very pretty, some of the slapstick looks decent, and it’s clever how the movie conveys a language barrier between the Yetis and the humans. But I’ve heard some early positive buzz that mentions something really interesting. This is a kid’s movie that encourages children to question the status quo and look beyond what we’re merely told. That’s a pretty good message for the youngest generation, especially in the current social and political climate. I don’t have much interest in Smallfoot, but I might have to support something that’s a little more brainy than animated creatures getting smacked in the face.
As it stands, it looks like what will really make or break Smallfoot is the musical numbers. I haven’t heard any of them but I can’t remember the last time a non-Disney animated movie had good musical numbers.