What if you went to a horror movie fan event and the zombies and vampires were real? That’s the premise of Blood Fest, a feature film from world-wide-web super-site, Rooster Teeth. The film screened at RTX (Rooster Teeth Experience) Austin, a gathering for Rooster Teeth fans who include more than 45 million subscribers to its YouTube Network, five million unique monthly visitors to its RoosterTeeth.com hub, and three million registered community members.
Horrible and Funny
The film falls into that strange genre mash-up, horror-comedy. I was expecting to be amused, as Rooster Teeth excels at comedy. I was not expecting the film to be all that scary, but I was wrong. The creative team, under the leadership of writer-director Owen Egerton, managed to create a film with both scares and laughs.
Blood Fest opens with teenager Dax, played by Robbie Kay (Once Upon a Time, Heroes Reborn) in a conflict with his dad, played by veteran actor Tate Donovan (The O.C., 24: Live Another Day). Dax wants to go to the horror fan convention called Blood Fest. His dad, a psychologist, says it’s unhealthy and forbids it. With the encouragement of his girlfriend Sam, played by Seychelle Gabriel (Falling Skies), and the help of aspiring-actress friend Ashley, played by Rooster Teeth favorite Barbara Dunkelman, he gets in.
As the evening progresses, the thousands of fans in attendance realize that they have entered a real-life horror show. The mastermind of the fest, played by writer-director Egerton, has an evil plan. The gates get locked. The chainsaws, zombies, and vampires come out. The task of finding a way out for himself and a group of friends falls on Dax’ shoulders. Trapped teenagers fighting for their lives is a classic theme. Blood Fest plays that the theme like a symphony.
Fun to Watch
As the story progresses, between and often during the smiles and the screams, horror fans can appreciate the homages paid to classic horror films. At first, I tried to keep track. There were too many. References to horror favorites such as The Evil Dead, Saw, Halloween, The Exorcist, and even Jurassic Park, embellish almost every scene.
The film is enjoyable as comedy, horror, and tribute. Most importantly, it is a well written, acted and directed film. It has unexpected twists, reveals, a surprising ending, a cameo by Zachary Levi (Chuck), and creatures get chopped in half with an axe. Who could ask for more?
Fun to Make
Participants in the creation of Blood Fest sat in on a panel and a post screening Q&A for attendees.
An audience member said he ran a haunted house every year and wondered if the panelists had ever done that.
Writer-director Egerton suggested that a haunted house was a lot scarier than making a scary movie. “When you’re making a movie,” he said, “you do retakes. Sometimes an actor must react to something scary, that really was shot half an hour ago.”
Another fan asked if making the film was different from other projects they had worked on.
Robbie Kay said, “Well, we really had to keep our energy up. Owen did a great job at helping us do that.”
Barbara Dunkelman said, “This was definitely different.” Dunkelman is the star of Rooster Teeth talk show Always Open, and this was her first feature film. “I’ve never done anything like this, but Rooster Teeth is always trying to do new things. I think this is a perfect mix of Rooster Teeth humor and a new genre.”
A Cold Shiver
A fan asked Dunkelman if there was one scene that stood out in her memory.
“The shower scene,” she said. They had to reshoot this homage to Psycho. “When we went back to do it, the building was freezing cold, and so was the water. They had to bring in a fog machine to make it look like the shower was steaming.”
A fan asked her if she had patterned her role after anyone.
“Yes,” she said. “After every single blond in every horror movie ever.”
A fan asked Director Egerton about all the blood and special effects.
“We used more blood than any other movie ever made in Austin,” Egerton boasted. “Forty gallons.”
He concluded his remarks with the observation: “We’ve seen this film many times as we’ve taken it around the festival circuit. But this was the best screening ever. You are the people we made it for, and we’re as excited as we could be that you enjoyed it.”
The film will show nationwide as a Fathom special event on August 14 in the U.S. and Canada, and on August 17 in the U.K. It will open in theaters and on-demand on August 31. The DVD/Blu-Ray release, with a promise of a load of extras, is set for October. You can watch the trailer below.