We love horror and are constantly looking for ways to be entertained through fear. Especially as fall arrives, there’s nothing quite like watching a scary movie, listening to creepy tales, or visiting horror-themed amusement parks. Even when those experiences feel real enough to truly scare us, we can take comfort in the fact that none of it is actually real.

But what happens when the frightening stuff meant to entertain becomes reality? That terrifying question is the premise of Hell Fest. The film pits a group of friends against a killer roaming a theme park designed for horror aficionados. It’s like Six Flags, but with ghosts and monsters – one of whom, in this case, is horrifyingly real.

With a stripped-down approach, Hell Fest aims to refresh the ever-evolving genre with a clever premise and a vicious killer.

An Ill-Fated Break

[Credit: CBS Films]

College can be stressful, and going home may be exactly what some people need to relax. Natalie (Amy Forsyth) thinks a trip is exactly what she needs. Unfortunately, that might not be what she gets. The stressed-out student takes a break from her studies and heads back to her hometown to visit friends Brooke (Reign Edwards) and Taylor (Bex Taylor-Klaus). Little does Natalie know that her visit will soon turn into a nightmare.

Prodded by her friend’s boyfriend, Natalie and her crew head to a haunted theme park called “Hell Fest.” It’s a popular spot for horror fans, but a dark cloud looms over its history. A year ago, a young woman was murdered and hanged in the park. Her body wasn’t discovered until days later, having initially been mistaken as part of the frightening attractions.

That story only increases the allure of the part for some attendees. So the friends all head to Hell Fest, eager to be scared and have some fun. Unbeknownst to them, however, the story isn’t just true; the mysterious killer is roaming the park again. The murderer is on the hunt, using the attractions as cover, and soon sets his sights on Natalie and her clueless friends.

A Memorable Villain

[Credit: CBS Films]

Unique villains are one hallmark of slasher movies. Audiences want gory and suspenseful stories, but a special focus on a memorable antagonist is always important. Most killers in slasher movies have a unique trait or tool. Freddy Krueger can travel through dreams; Leatherface loves his chainsaw.

Hell Fest embraces the genre’s signature gruesome elements and creates a singularly vicious killer for the characters to battle. His weapon isn’t a knife or a mystical power – it’s the park itself. This baddie takes advantage of his surroundings, hiding his grisly acts behind the same attractions people are so eager to be scared by. Park workers mistake the killer’s actions as another part of the park, inadvertently giving him free reign to kill.

Yikes! That inherent advantage makes the killer even more terrifying and turns him into an incredibly dangerous adversary. While overcoming killers in slasher movies is never easy, we feel like Hell Fest‘s main antagonist has the potential to become one of the strongest villains in the genre.

Hell Fest opens on September 28.