SXSW Film Review: Blood Fest

Austin meta-horror lands GIF-able gags

Austin's Rooster Teeth is a powerhouse for web culture, a mass producer of online videos ranging from gameplay commentaries to animated web series. A handful of years ago, the studio branched out to feature-length films, and their latest is Blood Fest.

Blood Fest is the name of a Renaissance-faire-style horror festival – a secluded, outdoor gathering for the world’s largest gorehounds. Dax (Robbie Kay) has been obsessed with horror ever since his mom was murdered on Halloween night while they were watching White Zombie. His father (Tate Donovan), on the other hand, despises horror and forbids him from going to a festival that mindlessly celebrates gratuitous violence. So, naturally, Dax finds a way to Blood Fest, without his dad’s permission.

Directed by local Austinite and horror enthusiast Owen Egerton, the film doesn’t come without its setbacks. It’s a formulaic meta-horror movie that for most of its run time tries too hard, but there’s a sincerity about the movie that keeps it zipping along.

When Blood Fest takes a step back, there are shining moments that are genuinely funny. The video store banter (located at Vulcan Video’s former North Austin location) between Dax, Sam (Seychelle Gabriel), and Krill (Jacob Batalon) is upbeat and cute, and the opening scene between young Dax and his mom is sickeningly sweet, but charmingly so. These brief moments sprinkled throughout make up slightly for the times when a gag runs longer than it’s welcomed, like when Chuck’s Zachary Levi makes a cameo appearance.

But Blood Fest will find a place to thrive, and that’s in the online space. It’s GIF-able, and it winks enough at its core audience to satisfy. However, for those who don’t know who supporting actress Barbara Dunkelman is, or why it’s so funny that a group of gamers are stuck in a room playing a computer game that controls the park’s zombies, you might get lost.

Blood Fest

Midnighters, World Premiere
Saturday, March 10, 11:55pm, Alamo South Lamar
Friday, March 16, 8:45pm, Satellite Venue: AFS Cinema

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SXSW Film 2018, Blood Fest, Owen Egerton

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